How to Hand-Feed Baby Hedgehogs

Three baby hedgehogs

Hand feeding baby hedgehogs

If you’re raising baby hedgehogs (also referred to as hoglets), rescuing orphaned hoglets, or bringing a young hoglet home as a pet, you may find that you need to hand feed them at some point. This could be because the babies are being neglected by their mother, the mother is sick, or there is no mother at all. Hand-feeding baby hoglets is a delicate matter, as the health of the babies can be compromised pretty easily. Further, hand-feeding doesn’t really make a difference in how social the babies become with humans.

If a foster hedgehog mother is available, then that’s the best option for feeding baby hedgehogs. Babies who are fed by another hedgehog have a greater chance of survival than those fed by hand. If no foster mother is available, however, then you’re going to have to give hand-feeding a try and hope for the best.
Here’s what you’ll need to properly feed your hoglets:

  1. The right kind of cage. For babies, a shoebox is usually just fine. Put a soft cloth in the box for bedding. Then, set a heating pad on low heat and put it under the lower half of the box. Hoglets need a source of heat, because they can’t generate their own.
  2. The right kind of food. Do NOT feed cow’s milk to hoglets, as they can’t digest it. Instead, use kitten milk replacer or goat’s milk. If using kitten milk replacer, mix some lukewarm chamomile tea into it to aid in digestion.
  3. The right kind of feeding technique. Hoglets have TINY stomachs, so don’t feed them with anything larger than an eyedropper. Put the eyedropper to their lips and squeeze one drop into their mouths at a time. If a hoglet doesn’t start to suckle, stick the tip of the eyedropper in his mouth to encourage him. Don’t give a hoglet more than 2 to 3 mouthfuls of milk during any feeding session, or you might accidentally kill it with overfeeding. Feed the hoglets every two hours, or whenever they start to squeal, whichever comes first.
  4. The right digestion stimulation. Hedgehog mothers lick their babies’ bellies to stimulate digestion. You’ll need to approximate this by taking a Q-tip or cotton ball and gently stroke the hoglet’s body from chin to rectum about 20 to 30 times following each feeding. This is VERY important!
  5. The right weaning time. You can usually start the weaning process when the hoglets are about 3 weeks old. Start mixing some dry food with warm water to make it moist and leave it out for them to feed themselves between hand-feedings. At about 5 to 6 weeks of age, you can start leaving out unmoistened dry food for them all the time.

If your baby hedgehogs do well with the hand-feeding, they’ll be out of the most dangerous period of their lives, and have a much better chance of living to see adulthood. Not all hoglets who are hand-fed make it, even the most carefully cared for hoglets. Hand-feeding hoglets is a chance we take to give the babies a better chance at life than they had before. If you come out the other side of hand-feeding, you can look forward to your hedgehogs growing up healthy and strong!

18 Comments on "How to Hand-Feed Baby Hedgehogs"

  1. Dottie(hedgehog) | 03/05/2009 at 3:43 am |

    WOW!!!!cool thanks!

  2. Dottie(hedgehog) | 03/05/2009 at 3:49 am |

    ok its late (sorry!) can’t sleep

  3. natalie | 03/02/2010 at 9:22 pm |

    I purchased an 8 week old baby last week. The breeder gave us a small bag of kitten food that she had been feeding her babies. He has not been interested at all in the food and does not appear to be eating at all. We have been giving him some babyfood and some pedialite through a dropper. The past two nights he has not been active or awake. We are waking him up every 2 hrs to give him 1/4 tsp. of babyfood (pears). He just barely stays awake through feedings. We have a heating blanket under his container.His stool is very green, and mucus like. Is there anything else you can suggest for us to do to keep him alive? I am afraid he is beginning to shut down. I was surprised to see he made it through the night last night.

  4. Marlee Schiappa | 17/03/2010 at 2:40 am |

    Where do you sugjest hedgehogs to be bought? I really want one and I need Advice on where and when a hedgehog can be found. Could you give me some sugjestions please? Thank you! 🙂

  5. thanks for the info.. im planning to raise some hedgehog…but i dont how to start could you give me some information or advice?thank you and god bless

  6. Hi there,

    Hope u can give me some info for our hedgehog. I am not sure always how much food we should give him. We feed him with meal worms and give him about 6 – 10 at a time and after the worms we feed him about 4 crickets. At first we made sure he eats 3 times a day until someone said we are feeding him to much now we only feed him once a day, but he seems to be always hungry. We do have a warming light in his cage as well as a heating pad under his mat. How long should we leave the light and heater on so that he does not get cold.

  7. how do you care for a 9 month old baby hedgehog? just asking because I’m getting one Friday and have to learn to care for it

  8. I want a hedgehog!!!

  9. i want a hedgehog but unfortunenately its not present here in philippines i would b willing to adopt some of your extra hedge hog plssss…depending on your price

  10. Marlee- Best place to get a hedgie is directly from a licensed breeder.
    Tiffany- I know you probably already have your hedgie by now, but basically a 9 month old hedehog is just about the same as an adult.

    Just found this site by the way, nice.

  11. I rely won’t one but there not available in Vietnam. Dose anyone know where to get on and not from a breeder. We’ll maybe a experienced one

  12. Feathers | 16/01/2012 at 6:16 am |

    im planning to get a hedgehog soon but i dont know where and i cant find a breeder. where should i look?

  13. Hi there do you feed baby hedgehogs a night ? i think theyr about 8-10 days old.

  14. I thought Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. How come they can drink goats milk then?

  15. Tristan | 25/08/2012 at 9:31 pm |

    I have a 5 week old hedge hog I think hedy sick can I take him to the vet

  16. I want a hedgehog but am 2 young so cute learning as much as can about them when are they considered adults? my family is annoyed because i am always talking about them

  17. ONLY hand feed of absolutely necessary! If you do it just because you want to, you could kill it.

  18. Natalie – A 8 weeks old hedgehog is weaned from the mother and should be eating solids aka. kibble and insects. They stop drinking milk around 5-6 weeks.
    A 8 weeks old hedgehog should be 200 grams before being sold to a new owner. You should NOT wake up a 8 week old hedgehog every 2 hours to feed it pears?

    Belinda – A hedgehogs primary diet should be cat kibble, a good quality kibble with 8-12% fat, 25-35% protein and a first ingredient of meat, prefered chicken.
    You can feed crickets and mealworms as supplements, 3-4 crickets or 6-7 mealies a day.
    As for the heat, you should be using a CHE (Ceramic heat bulb) without lights in it, and have it on a termostate so that the cage is always 22-28 celcius. You should not use a heatingpad for hedgehogs since it can hurt them.

    Tiffany – A 9 month old hedgehog is NOT a baby, they stop being babies when they are weaned from the mother at 6-8 weeks of age. After that they become teenagers and at 6 months they are mature to get their own babies. They CAN produce babies at 6 weeks+, but shouldn’t do so before they reach 6 months at the earliest.

    Evie – If you handfeed hoglets, you feed them EVERY 2 hours, that means at night as well. And you keep them warm at all times.

    Tristan – You should always have an exotic vet on your phone book before purchasing a hedgehog.

    Tori – They are considered adults at 6 months.

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