The Algerian hedgehog is found in Northern Africa and Southern France as well as several islands around that area. The Pruner's hedgehog is found in Central Africa. Hedgehogs are opportunistic feeders and many were trapped around garbage dumps.
Try to simulate the natural environment if you wish to have happy hedgehogs that will breed well in captivity. They do not like bright light and will try to get under feed dishes if they do not have a place to hide.Environment
I have been very successful raising them in airline animal carriers. I know of some people who raise them in wire cages, Rubbermaid containers, etc. I will give you an idea of what works for me.
I use a Kennel Cab II medium, (14" x 14" x 24) taupe color with epoxy painted doors. I put clean pine (not cedar) shavings in for bedding, a 4" PVC sewer pipe 10" long with a cap on one end for a tunnel, a divided feed dish in the door and an automatic watering system. A guinea pig water bottle with a stainless steel ball drinking spout works fine also.
I nail a 2 foot piece of 2" x 2" on each wall, 4" off the floor for the bottom layer of crates. I screw two 2" x 4" on top of this, one at the front and one at the back from one wall to the other, for the bottom layer of crates to sit upon. The front 2" x 4" is about 1 inch lower than the back so that the cage is lower on the front end. This in done in case there is a water leak in my automatic system. Holes are drilled in the bottom of the front of the crate so the water will drain out instead of soaking the hedgehogs. I brace this with vertical 2" x 2" 's every 5 cages across. I put the next layer up the same, approximately 1" above that row of crates. I keep my crates six high, and have to use a step stool for the top two layers.
I keep my room between 75 and 82 degrees. I use a de-humidifier in the room to keep the humidity under 40%. I keep the room well ventilated with an exhaust fan and circulating air.
I keep my animal containers scrupulously clean, removing debris, damp shavings and feces daily. Entering every cage every day, helps me to be aware of any problems, such as:
Reduced appetite Missing babies Lethargy
It also helps to gentle the animals so that new mothers are not so apprehensive when babies are born.
A high quality dry cat food is a must as part of the diet to help prevent PERIODONTAL disease (dental problems). I also use Bil-Jac frozen dog food on all pregnant and lactating moms as well as newly weaned babies. I substitute Kal Kan Pedigree Dog Food mixed with Cottage cheese when Bil Jac is not available, however, some breeders are successful in raising hedgehogs on high quality cat food alone. I do not recommend live food for females. Meal worms can be fed if desired.
I use an automatic watering system on all cages. In the past, when I only had a small number of hedgehogs, the water bottle worked fine, but did take a lot more time to fill and clean bottles. Occasionally, a leaking bottle emptied in a few hours. No matter what type of system you use, I would suggest drilling several holes in the front of the floor in the crate in case there is a water leak. I use 3 gallon buckets to hold the water which are on a shelf 12" higher than the crates that are being served. One line can be used to service about 40 crates. Each bucket has a main exit valve with a shut off. The line is run from the bucket to each row of crates, where it T's off to the individual crates. I use cup hooks on the top of the highest row of crates to hold up the tubing. I use fence staples on the 2"x4" to hold the line above each crate. I place the valve in the clip, and attach it in the bottom of the door, on the hinge side of the crate. Occasionally a valv! e will leak, and I usually just replace it and fix it later. The valve can be replaced by kinking the tubing and removing the leaking valve and replacing it with a new one.
Hedgehogs are not difficult to breed. I recently sold (3 months ago) 3 pair to one of my 4-H kids who is 12 years old. I sold her 2.5 month old pairs, and she has just weaned three litters this week. Although she is an exceptional girl who loves animals very much, if she can do it, you all can do it. She is saving for her college education with her profits. She paid for her three pair in 3 months, plus had $500. left over and an extra female to add to her herd.
I keep about 1 male to 3 females. You can keep a lot fewer males but you will have to be juggling males around and may overwork them. I often use younger males on experienced females, and experienced males on young females. I keep a list of my 'sure-shot' males who I call my 'stud muffins' and any male who I see breed. He may breed but not settle a female. If I have a female who is not producing, she gets to have a date with one of the stud muffins. A female who is not producing after a couple dates with a stud muffin should be sold as a pet.
Breeding records are a necessary evil for several reasons. If you are serious about being an efficient operation, you cannot afford to have animals that are not producing, or that are producing tiny litters. The mother, as in all animals determines the size of the litter depending on the number of eggs her ovaries produce. It takes two "X" chromosomes to produce a girl and one each "X" and one "Y" chromosome to produce a boy. The sire has the ability to determine the sex of the offspring by having both "X" and "Y" chromosomes, since the dam only carries "X" . Lots of times it could be the 'luck of the draw' as to what sexes a litter has, but if you have male who is consistently producing females, it could be that he is producing more chromosomes that carry the "X" factor. Color also, is an important factor in keeping records. Certain individuals throw spontaneous mutations more often, resulting in the color variations we are seeing today. I have found that the Alge! rian hedgehogs throw lighter colors than the Pruners.
For normal animals, I place the male and female together for two days, and repeat this in two weeks. For problem breeders, I suggest the following schedule:
In with male for two days No male for two days Repeat this three more times Palpate female for pregnancy at 30 days, and if not bred, repeat using a stud muffin different male.
Wild female hedgehogs ("pygmy" species) may breed as early as three months of age. So will captive females but they probably should not be introduced to males for breeding until they are fully developed and have reached maturity.
R-Zu-2-U Animal "Terms"
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