It Is Not Always Fun Being a Breeder

Mar 19, 2014 by

It Is Not Always Fun Being a Breeder

Breeding Hedgehogs is Not Without Risks

  • The highlights of breeding and its allure often blind individuals to the potential risks, downfalls, and expenses that can occur.
  • The possibility of losing a pet due to breeding complications or illness is very real and the resulting bills from veterinary care can be quite sizeable.
  • Baby fatalities are relatively common. One must have the ability to withstand birth complications and the corpses of dead, mutilated baby bodies.
  • A breeding adventure can quickly turn to disaster without proper planning and preparation.
  • Even with the best-laid plans, changes in market and new laws can quickly put a breeder out of business.
  • For every animal breeder in there are hundreds of other breeders who are no longer in business.

“I will never understand moms some times. One of my girls has been fostering this Yolo daughter for almost three weeks. She had four legs two days ago. Now mom’s gnawed one away.” Kat Martin Happy Hogs

This baby was alive with its spine exposed.
Megan Gump

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The veterinarian cost for 1 x-ray and an office visit was $130.00. The x-ray was necessary to ensure no additional babies remained inside the mother.
Diana Douglas Poky Balls Quillery

This baby died from a rectal prolapse.
Megan Gump

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“This is my first cannibalism as a new breeder. All the other babies were fine, she scalped him and left him aside. I went to discard him but saw he was still breathing. He chirped for me a few times before he passed after about 2 hours. Very heartbreaking!” Marina Valentine Jezebelle’s House Of Hogs

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This baby is bloated. The blue on him was paint from trying to foster him but the foster placement was unsuccessful. Megan Gump

 infectedThis baby has an infected quill base.  Several rounds of antibiotics along with medicated baths were required to make her better.

Infected skin made this little girl very uncomfortable. Medicated baths were needed to make her better. Megan Gump

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This baby had infected quill base. Several rounds of antibiotics along with medicated baths were required to heal the infection. Megan Gump

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The mother bit her back leg. The leg stump healed fine. Megan Gump

The mother bit this little boy’s penis and it became infected. A round of antibiotics cleared the infection and he is 100% normal. Megan Gump

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A quill went through her eye and required antibiotic eye treatment. She is alive and missing one eye. Megan Gump

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Deceased female hedgehog who had a baby stuck in the birth canal. Ashley Williams, Peek a Boo Hogletry

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This is an underdeveloped fetuses born 11 days early the female appears to be ok but this is what she pushed out last night. ..it’s not always cute fat babies sometimes it horrifying.
Jason Safcik. Peeps N Paws

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She was only a couple months old when I got her. I had her for 5 days and that happened. I rushed her to emergency vet and they wanted 1000.00 to try to fix it. I declined and paid 150.00. So I got some medicine, including a fluid I had to put on it every hour. I stayed up all night with her then took her to my vet the next day. He had to push it back up and stitch closed. No guarantee. Then at the vet I paid another 150.21. I took her home and hoped for the best. She is still with us. It has been a few months now. She will never be bred b/c it could occur again. So she is just our pet now. Angie Clements of Clements HedgeHogs.
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Underside and leg of cannibalized baby. Eleanor Sferle, Tennessee Hedgehog & Rescue

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This is a first time mom, Heidi. She had a litter of 5 but ended up with 2. Heidi did not seem to want to be a mom and found every opportunity possible to try and escape her cage by climbing over the hide. The 2 remanding babies reached it to 4 weeks old. Then, one day I come to the facility after running errands in the afternoon and look in horror as one of the babies was killed with its face mutilated.  Adam Goll, Hedgehogs By Adam

Litter of cannibalized babies. Amy Gilroy, Motor City Hedgehogs

Jason and Grace first contacted me because their “male” hedgehog that they bought at a pet store gave birth a week after they brought he/she home.  Combined with other family circumstances this surprise was very overwhelming for them.  They were very afraid for the safety and well-being of both momma and babies.  By lifting up the clear Steralite tub they were able to see 8 babies.
Jason: So were having a bit of an issue right now. After our normal playtime with the hedgies everyone was settling back in and now Sebastian is having fits, shes chewing at one of her own teats, has vomited twice, and we really don’t know what to do. Both of our vets are out, and I cannot find any information on the web about this sort of behavior. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Sore teat
At this point in time I, Gail, had never experienced an issue like Jason is describing and I suggested they take her to an emergency veterinarian.
Grace: Jason and I took Sebastian to the emergency veterinarian.  Sebastian was diagnosed with mastitis in her topmost right nipple.  There is some bleeding there because she was biting herself, but the concerning part of this is swelling and a small lump in the area from the under the skin infection.  Also right around the time she went absolutely nuts last night (around 7:30pm) she had very loose and green stool and vomited what looked to be froth.  She only vomited once, but the loose stool lasted on and off until we went to sleep.
This morning the stool was firmer, but still dark green.  I’m of the opinion the vomiting and perhaps some of the loose stool are side effects of the stress and pain of her infection and self mutilation. This morning she was calm and not biting herself.  In fact she was nursing the pups whenever she was checked on prior to Jason leaving to work around 10am.The vet gave us several medications.  One anti inflammatory, 2 antibiotics and a probiotic to offset.  I very carefully watched the vet tech administer the anti inflammatory last night and it seemed quite simply.  However when I went to administer the antibiotics this morning Sebastian was having none of it.  Not at all.  Struggle, attempt to run, huff, quill, more huff, more quill, no interest in being bribed with treats.  I think she ended up with more on her muzzle than in her.  I ended up leaving the probiotic mixed with some mashed banana and am just hoping she eats it.  It was a very trying experience.  So we learned not all hedgehogs like treats.  Hedgehogs can get mastitis.  And I think we learned that severe pain may cause vomiting for no particular reason, but I’m still not sure on that point.I watched a couple of videos today showing once again how best to administer the oral meds and unlike the vet tech last night, they all recommend going in at the side of the mouth instead of the front.

Along with the meds I’m going to try warm wet paper towel compresses over the area to help loosen up any dried milk that there may be and also to help keep the area clean because she really did bite the heck out of herself.  I’ll let you know how things go.  I know the warm compress really does help with under skin infections drawing the infection to the surface where it can drain off.  I had to do it for my oldest cat for a few weeks and it worked wonders in tandem with antibiotics.

If I can’t get her to be still long enough for a compress I’ll have her just walk through an inch or so of warm water every evening until this clears up.  She really needs to be kept as clean as possible.  I’m not a vet, or a breeder, but some things are just common sense.  Dirt and infections and open wounds just don’t mix well.

You can see not only is the teat itself red and irritated but also the swollen flesh and redness up and around the teat.

As I said, last check in around 10am momma was relaxed, if not ok.  And the pups are good to go so far.

Also the vet indicated that if Sebastian does not show improvement over the next 24-48 hours she wants to do blood tests.  Given that there are pups involved I requested we hold off on this unless it was considered absolutely necessary.  Had there been no babes, she would have been left with the vet overnight for a whole round of testing.

Note: the hoglets traveled like champs sleeping most of the way and not really taking much note of the goings on.  Sebastian did most of her self biting and fussing away from them both in the pen originally and in the cat carrier we had to use for travel with the babes all tucked into a carefresh nest in a box in the carrier.  Accessible, but not underfoot.

I’m so thankful she did this in our presence and not at 3am.  She had no signs of swelling or anything when she was flipped over yesterday morning, and when we picked her up last night for play we didn’t flip her.

Here is hoping this experience adds to your treasure trove of knowledge and also if any of this tickles a random hedgie care memory please let me know.  Once again we find ourselves on the edge of panic over our prickly little child.

Update:

I attempted to bathe her in cool water but yet again she was having none of it. She refuses to be still for me even though she received wonderful compliments on her behavior with the vet and vet techs last night.  She isn’t raising her quills or anything, but she will simply not be still at all for bathing or meds or even cuddles.  The good news is she still seems calm unless she is being held and I did in fact come home to a calm momma hedgie nursing her pups.  Just none nursing on the sore teat.  She is keeping that one out of reach which may present a problem with healing.  I have no idea how I’m going to get her to be still long enough for a compress.  But I will try and I will also attempt to massage the sore area gently and hopefully “milk” her a little to help to release some of the toxins that are built up in there.

She did eat 3 mealworms.  They were her first and I take this as a good sign for future bribery.

Primary Author: Gail Miller, Millermeade Farm’s Critter Connection

Thank you to the many breeders who have contributed to the creation of this article.  Photos and experiences are recognized within the article.

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