So I'm not saying anything much new here. A lot of breeders I know have a page on their websites dedicated to trying to educate people who think breeding hedgehogs might be a fun or profitable thing to do here is an example from Fair Haven Hedgehogs https://www.fairhavenhedgehogs.com/breeding.
Everyday on Facebook I see posts asking how to start breeding in various hedgehog groups. I had a woman contact me who breeds dogs and owned a hedgehog once. She couldn't understand why no hedgehog breeder would help her get started. Well Here is why. I don't know you, and I have no clue about your level of commitment and if you already sound blasé, you just failed my first level of vetting.
I get it baby hedgehogs are cute and hedgehogs are awesome!~ and you want in on that awesomeness. I suggest getting a pet hedgehog from a reputable breeder and spoiling the crap out of it. Take a billion pictures of you and your hedgie. Breeding is not required to enjoy all the spiky hedgehog goodness.
Ask yourself (honestly): Could I watch my hedgie that I love, die due to birth complications? Can I accept that a mother hedgehog, if feeling threated might cannibalize her babies? Can I deal with dead and mutilated and abandoned babies? Can I handle the fact that no pairing is a sure thing? Am I willing to make a huge commitment of time, money, technology (breeding program database is a must), and learning? along with an emotional investment that is going to hurt sometimes more than any outlay of cash could?
If you do not want to be part of making hedgehogs better and healthier companion animals. If you can not wrap your brain around the fact that hedgehogs are exotic animals that are difficult to breed, just don't.
If you have any hesitation you should not consider breeding hedgehogs, for any reason.
And now I can tell you about my day, because I am a hedgehog breeder, and if despite it all you ever decide to breed hedgehogs, one day you will have a day like this, don't say I didn't warn you.
It is currently 2AM EST my spouse and I are sleeping in our hedgehog room taking turns getting up and feeding baby hedgehogs.
Now there is no denying that these little nuggets are cute. The problem is they are newborn hedgehogs in my hand. They have no business being there for about two more weeks. Yet here we are trying to save the last babies from a litter I was super excited about.
Laxmi is a sweetheart, she has an awesome temperament. I had no reason to believe she would not be a good mother. She comes from excellent lines. Not to mention this litter was already completely reserved up to five hoglets. You get my point I wasn't concerned. Isn't that always when you get kicked in the ass??
I notice that Laxmi looks to be getting ready to have her babies or is having them around 2 this afternoon, well yesterday afternoon. I decide to check back in on her a bit later. At 3ish I see there are newborn babies in the nest. YAY. Tracie and I have a cup of coffee in our hedgehog mugs and toast our new litter "Taurus"
Here is where things get bad. Laxmi is moving the babies around a lot. She is agitated she won't stop moving. She doesn't flop down and nurse her litter. If they get close she raises her spines. I reach out to other breeders with the question of how long to give her to settle down? I wait and watch a bit. I wonder if she has another baby stuck in her. I give her as long as I dare 3 hours. Then I decide I will move all the babies close to her with a spoon, after consulting another breeder. She is laying turned away from them they are peeping. I initially thought I saw three or four.
So I get ready to make this intervention in as unobtrusive a way as I can.
Right away I can see something is wrong, the birth was difficult. How did I know? the dead baby that appeared to be the result of Laxmi tearing him/her out of herself. There is quite a bit of blood. OK a difficult birth explains the behavior, but now what? There are (I believe) two or three babies left. Laxmi is still pacing while I find the babies. I put two together then I find the third, Laxmi has killed it.
I am seriously bummed and wonder if I should have intervened sooner. Normally I would not have intervened in any way at all this early, but I beat myself up anyway.
Laxmi is sniffing the other two babies and not in a motherly way.
I decide to remove her, it is then when I look Laxmi all over that I see a marble sized red ball protruding from her rear.
That was my "Oh Shit!" moment. My mom has a birth injury or a stuck baby. It looks like a prolapse.
Everything has gone to hell, just...like...that.
The Exotic vet is an hour away we call, pack up Laxmi and what is left of Litter Taurus and drive like hell.
Once there the vet confirms Laxmi's uterine prolapse, After x-rays its determined that there is not another hoglet stuck in there. A spay does not seem necessary at the moment because the prolapse is back inside and everything looks OK and is treated. The babies are examined and declared to be of a good weight and healthy. We are given all the info on hand raising Team Taurus.
My beautiful Laxmi's breeding days are done. She can never have another litter, This girl I love to snuggle with and went to Arkansas to get. Good news though she has lived to have more snuggles and love. Again, I feel guilt for putting her through this and sadness that I have lost her wonderful lines and temperament, she will never be a mom (ironic it's mothers day) She is both an investment and a beloved pet, this is why breeding isn't for everyone. I've lost my investment, and paid a big vet bill, I can live with that. I would have been devastated if Laxmi died because I didn't notice things weren't right, because then I would have failed a beloved animal companion.
On the way home I lobbied for nest cams.
I'm Just hoping for these little girls to get through their first 24 hours while making sure Laxmi is OK as well.
It's 3:30AM we just finished a feeding, the babies are active and take their 1ml of food. I use a q tip to stimulate their genital area hoping tomorrow I might see poop! I get one drop of urine from the larger girl - YAY! This will be my life for the next two weeks or until both girls lose their tiny battles to live.
Do you still want to breed hedgehogs?