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Hedgehog FAQ [7/7] - Wild Hedgehogs
Section - <12.3> Feeding and caring for orphan baby hedgehogs

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
With the number of hedgehogs killed on roads, and from other reasons, it's
not surprising that orphaned babies do occur.  

If you come across baby hedgehogs wandering about on their own, during the
middle of the day, there is a good chance that they are orphans.  That said,
don't simply collect them and take them home to care for them.  Unless they
are obviously in dire straits, it's best to give them a day or possibly two
to see if mom does return.  If she hasn't within that time, you should
probably consider taking action.  Of course, if they look to be in serious
need of help, then don't wait -- if they've already been on their own for a
while, they might not have a couple of days left in them.

What you feed them depends on their age, and this will be largely a judgement
call.  If they are old enough it might be possible to feed them canned cat or
dog food (or the recipe above [12.2]).  If they are too young, take a look at
the suggestions for nursing replacements outlined below.  Basically, these
are the same formulas as used with baby African hedgehogs and will work well
for baby European hedgehogs also -- only the quantities will likely be quite
a bit greater (the 'hog' part of the name isn't there for no reason...).

Generally, the rule about avoiding or limiting cows' milk for adult hedgehogs
also applies to babies, only even more so.  Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant,
and cows' milk will likely cause diarrhea, resulting in dehydration and
further problems.

Robyn Gorton, who was studying hedgehogs in New Zealand, passed along the 
following information on caring for babies.

    I find that caring for the young is simple enough as long as you have a 
    good milk to feed them.  I have discovered that sheeps' milk is the 
    closest in composition to hhog milk and acts as an excellent substitute
    when mixed with raw egg.  It may for the first few days cause swelling of 
    the anus, but as soon as they start teething (3 weeks) you can add mashed 
    banana for fibre and their problems clear up.  It's a very high protein 
    diet but one must watch for a vitamin B deficiency which can be caused 
    by too much raw egg.  I had my two hoglets suckling on a syringe for the 
    first week and 1/2 until their teeth erupted (this takes three days for a 
    full set to emerge!!) then simply start using a saucer and they will 
    naturally feed from it themselves.

I've also heard of using goats' milk, similar to what Robyn suggested above,
though I trust her research as far sheeps' milk being closer to hedgehog
milk.  I do need to caution, however, about the use of raw eggs, as they can
cause problems of their own [6.2] -- this, however, may be one situation
where bending those rules is worthwhile.

What do you do if you don't have a friendly goat or sheep, or can't easily
find sheeps' or goats' milk?  Many pet stores and pet supply stores carry KMR
(Kitten Milk Replacement).  It's usually in powdered form, which makes it
handy for the small quantities you will need.

I've also heard of Esbilac (human baby formula) being used successfully, to
offer yet another option.  Anja van der Werf pointed out to me that when you
are trying to use human formula, make sure it is soya-based rather than based
on cows' milk.


One thing to watch out for in feeding baby hedgehogs, is that after each
feeding you must stimulate them to defecate and urinate, otherwise their
bladder and bowel will swell up and can even burst.  To do this, simply
stroke along their tummy towards the anus, which simulates a mother licking
and grooming her babies.  You can also do this with a warm damp tissue or
cloth.  The idea isn't to squeeze anything out, just to stimulate the baby to
do it's business.


Remember that hand raising baby hedgehogs is very difficult, and if you try
and meet with tragedy, remember that you gave them much more of a chance
than they would have had without you.  Whatever happens, don't give up and
decide that hedgehogs are bad, or that it's not worth helping hoglets -- it's
just hedgehog nature, and next time may well be nothing short of magical.


Another thing you can do for orphaned hedgehogs, is to contact one of the
organizations that provide sanctuaries or assistance (such as St.
Tiggywinkle's [11.4]).  They can often provide information or assistance, and
may even be able to provide a home for the babies.  This also goes for
injured or sick hedgehogs that you might happen across.

User Contributions:

Rio
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
Hi, my hedgehog started running around her cage squealing so I took her out to see what was wrong. Her genital area was inflamed and she had open sores all around that area. I gave her a bath, but I'm really worried about her. Do you have any idea what this could be?
Thank you!

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [7/7] - Wild Hedgehogs
Previous Document: <12.2> Caring for visiting hedgehogs
Next Document: <12.4> Hedgehog housing

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