SOME MORE INFO ON HOGLETS
If you have never looked after baby hedgehogs before and they are this young, please contact your nearest vet, wildlife rescue centre or hedgehog carer by ringing 01534 734340 in Jersey or 01584 890801 if you live in the UK. When they are very young they cannot empty bladder or bowels themselves so unless helped to do so they will die, quite apart from the risk of dying of starvation or from the wrong milk.....NEVER FEED THEM COW'S MILK
Hoglets are born blind, deaf and with a fluid-filled membrane covering their spines, which disappears soon after birth, the first spines are white and quite soft, there are about 90 of them (they say, haven’t counted them!) If you admit more than one from a litter, mark the spines with nail varnish, so you can tell who is who, the “big” one can become the “little” one overnight! DON’T MIX LITTERS, keep families together on their own.
For the first few days they should be fed 2 hourly and toiletted at every feed of course. They are kept warm on a heat pad with very soft fleecy bedding, Esbilac (or Royal Canin Babycat or Babydog) milk replacer is mixed 1:2 with warm water, once mixed it can last 24 hrs, but I usually make small amounts and mix fresh every few feeds, they seem to go off it when it is more than 12 hrs old. I add vitamin drops 1 per baby (Abidec) and probiotic powder to the milk.
CALCULATING HOW MUCH TO FEED: don’t over feed them, it can cause dreadful stomach problems and bloat which can sometimes be fatal. Mixing fennel tea into the milk replacer can prevent this happening. The German literature recommends feeding ¼ of bodyweight per 24 hours. 1ml =1g so a 48g hoglet would get 12ml of feed over 24 hours, say 6 feeds of 2ml each. Milk replacer is best taken warm ie body temperature, they often refuse it if it has gone cold. If the hoglets are too cold, ie off the heat pad for too long, they will probably not feed either.
TOILETTING: As with other baby mammals, you need to stimulate them to urinate and defecate, until they are able to do it for themselves, it varies how long this takes, it can be after the eyes are open, some are faster than others, but check every so often, so urine and faeces do not build up inside, they won’t feed if they are full the other end. Massage the whole tummy to get the internal organs working. They poo for themselves earlier than they wee, so you will go on tickling them to make them pee for several more days, boys take longer than girls, they enjoy it I think!! While they are very small you can see the milk and faeces through their skin, so you can see how much they have inside them.
We always wear disposable glvoes to handle hoglets now this was taken before we did, we all got ringworm from NOT wearing gloves so be careful!
CLEANING: It is obviously very important to keep them clean, especially when they start defecating themselves, and there are several of them, they do it on each other. On replacement milk normal faeces are pale green and formed, if they turn dark green or beige, give them antibiotic drops (Synulox), anyway ask a vet! Or a smidge of Norodine/ Diatrim 24% if you feel brave enough to inject them so small! Wee should also be colourless and clear and not dark. After each feed, wipe them with warm, damp cotton wool and dry them well, especially behind the back legs in the fold of the skirt. If they develop nappy rash I find Weleda Calendula Nappy Cream, very good, I use Vaseline on the cotton wool or cotton bud to toilet them rather than water. Use whatever works for you. Some people recommend almond oil.
Trying to roll up around day 9 or 10 - how do I get those legs tucked in?
LAPPING FOR THEMSELVES: If they are really strong and hungry, you may be able to get them lapping from a flat lid for themselves, you will still have to toilet and clean them up, but it is easier if they will do it. Usually I have to wait until their eyes are open, but this family started when their eyes were still shut, it happened on the same day as they could all roll up. But what a mess they made not sure it was a good idea don't usually do it!
EYES OPEN - DAY 14 - this is the big day when the eyes should start to open, first one then the other, I don’t think they can see anything at first! You can now move to 4 hourly feeds. Then you can calculate how old they were when they were admitted, it is the only good way of working this out really! By this stage they are much greyer in the skin and have many more brown spines. As soon as you feel the teeth under the gums with the syringe when you feed them you can very gradually add some sort of meaty jelly, puppy mousse, Hills A/D or pureed kitten food or even ground up kitten biscuits like Royal Canin Babycat, especially if you find that the milk on its own is not giving them enough nourishment. You will know this if you weigh them at the same time every day, and always at the same point in the routine, either after or before the feed and toilet. As soon as the weight stays static, add some extra protein, but only very small amounts, and stop if it upsets their digestion.
Sometime between 2 and 3 weeks you should be able to stop toiletting them, they will let you know by staying rolled up when you try to tickle their bits! Check the bedding for signs of wee and poo to be sure and go on trying to toilet them for a few more times as they often seem to need it every 12 hours or so for a couple of days while they are getting the hang of it! Girls will get independent before the boys usually!! Typical! Boys just like being tickled!
IF YOU ADMIT AN OLDER HOGLET EVEN WITH A FURRY TUMMY AND OPEN EYES WHO IS YELLING (IT'S USUALLY THE BOYS!) HIS HEAD OFF, THEN DO TRY TO TOILET HIM EVEN IF HE LOOKS TO OLD TO NEED IT. I HAVE FOUND THAT THIS IS SOMETIMES THE MAGIC BULLET WHICH SHUTS HIM UP AND HE WILL START FEEDING AS SOON AS HE HAS EMPTIED HIS BLADDER/BOWELS. If you try some Ceporex (0.1ml per 100g) for 5 days he may pee for himself after a few times of being toiletted. Remember having a full bladder will kill them. They should splay their back legs for you if they need to be toiletted when they feel you trying to stimulate them. But sometimes it takes a bit of time for them to get the hang of it, your cotton bud or cotton wool ball is going to feel very different from Mum's tongue!
Self anointing: one other thing to mention is that babies will often self anoint if fed or handled by a new person or if offered different foods to try - they will lick the new food or person until they produce a lot of froth and then proceed to anoint themselves all over their backs with this froth......it seems to be their way of getting to know a new taste or smell - if they are determined to do this you won't be able to get their attention to feed them, you have to just let them go through the process!
This little one was being re-introduced to her finder who came to visit her (I didn't give him any gloves as I hoped she would self anoint for him!)
TEETH ERUPT - AROUND DAY 21 the next big step is when the first teeth come through. This is when weaning can begin. This can be a difficult period, getting the balance right for them and getting them onto solid food. Use either kitten or puppy food, add some pureed into the milk very gradually, and encourage them to lap from a flat lid or small saucer, once they have the hang of feeding themselves, you can breathe a sigh of relief! Gradually add more and more meat to the milk, resume hand feeds if they are not gaining weight, just enough during the day to ensure they are getting enough nourishment. Soon you will be adding milk to the meat, rather than the other way round. You can continue to offer a little saucer of milk replacer and a dish of water, for a few days when they are eating meat. They will decide for themselves when they no longer need any milk at all. Milk = Esbilac or whatever you have been feeding them up to now not cow’s milk. Royal Canin Babycat and Bogena Mynah Bird food can also be offered as a dry alternative to wet food.
Faces are now more pointed and faces are furry.
WEEK FOUR: By week 4 they look like miniature hedgehogs and should eat for themselves, we keep them inside until they weigh 450g in summer and 600g in winter and then put them in an outside enclosure until they are 600g+ in summer and 750g+ in winter when we release them. See the other notes on orphaned hedgehogs for later stages of care.
PROBLEMS: this all sounds easy, but most babies will have some sort of antibiotic treatment and be wormed before release. They should not need worming before 6 weeks of age, but may be infected via the placenta - they can get worms from Mum, there are no rules on this but we think they do. Worm them if you think they need it, you won’t see eggs or larvae in the poo until they are older and the worms themselves have had time to mature and have young! For worming guidelines go to Endoparasites
Glop: Some youngsters with teeth are not going to feed for themselves so will need hand feeding longer than they would if they were well. Synulox is a good antibiotic for problem babies. (0.1ml per 100g) for at least 5 days - you will feel confident to inject them at this stage! or you can give them Synulox palatable drops if not. Vit B 12 injections also get them going.
TO MAKE UP GLOP TO FEED BABIES SCOOP SOME CAT OR KITTEN FOOD INTO A BEAKER, THE AMOUNT WILL DEPEND ON THE NUMBER OF HOGLETS YOU ARE FEEDING. ADD SOME WARM WATER. ADD ONE DROP OF ABIDEC VITAMINS PER HOGLET PER 24 HOURS. WHISK WITH HAND MIXER - MIXTURE MUST BE LIQUID ENOUGH TO GO THROUGH THE SYRINGE, BUT NOT TOO WATERY EITHER! POUR SOME INTO YOGHURT POT USE 2ML SYRINGE.
HOGLETS WHICH SHOULD BE FED GLOP ARE NOT EATING FOR THEMSELVES AND HAVE MOST OF THEIR TEETH. IF THEY ARE NOT EATING AT ALL THEY SHOULD BE FED ¼ OF THEIR BODY WEIGHT IN ML PER 24 HOURS (1G = 1ML). IF THEY ARE EATING A LITTLE FOR THEMSELVES, THEN GLOP CAN BE FED DURING THE DAY TO GIVE THEM AN EXTRA BOOST, THE AMOUNT SHOULD BE REDUCED TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO EAT FOR THEMSELVES, BUT NOT SO MUCH THAT THEY DO NOT GAIN WEIGHT. IDEALLY HOGLETS BEING HAND FED SHOULD GAIN 4g A DAY AND THOSE EATING FOR THEMSELVES 10g A DAY (according to the German literature.)
There are now puppy mousses on the market or Hills A/D which can be mixed with water and used instead of home made glop, they are more easily digested by young tums.
Once they are weaned and eating well for themselves it should be plain sailing! Good luck! contact me on email@example.com if you have any queries or comments