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Hedgehog Babies

Home Forums Carers / rescuing a hedgehog Hedgehog Babies

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    I have 2 baby hedgehogs about the size of tennis balls (150g each) that my vet has asked me to look after — their nest was disturbed. (I’m a registered carer with BHPS and a local animal sanctuary).
    They’re both in good health and are able to lap puppy milk from a jam jar lid, but don’t seem interested in puppy food. I’ve worked successfully with very young hoglets before (right from birth) and with adults. But not entirely sure how I should be treating hogs of this age? Also, unsure of the ethics as they are both in good health. Does anyone have any thoughts please?


    Mix AD or Royal Canin kitten/puppy mousse with the milk to make a slop
    If they had been in the nest still they aren’t properly weaned


    I have a baby who is 130g he is just about lapping milk- when should he start on food?
    Do I still need to hand feed him at this weight?


    I found this on hedgehog bottom- A rescue centre. If in ANY doubt about the baby call a specialist hedgehog rescue like this.

    It looks very complicated to raise a hoglet. This is what was on their site but the pictures aren’t coming up. You can do a search if you want to see these too

    If you have come to this page never having dealt with baby or juvenile hedgehogs before, or having had failures before, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE contact a rescue with a track record of success. Don’t try to look after them yourself without correct support.

    Hedgehog Bottom

    Babies and Juveniles
    Hoglets should be fed with a milk substitute such as Esbilac which contains all the fats, vitamins and minerals they need. Under no circumstances should you give them cow’s formula which will kill them. Goat’s milk with Goat’s colostrum may be used for a short period of time if nothing else is available.

    Products such as Cimicat are acceptable for a short time with the very young hoglets but are not substantial enough to make the hoglets grow. We have found that Shirley’s Lactol, Welpi, Canilac and most Kitten milks, as well as human baby formulas, are completely unsuccessful and will always advise you not to use them.

    You will need:

    a sterile syringe, 1ml, 5ml or 10ml – depending on the size of the feed required.
    a short piece of rubber tubing such as a cannula, or a Catac teat ST1, also sterile.
    a food warmer to keep the feed at body temperature
    Milton Fluid or a steriliser to clean all the equipment between feeds
    Fennel Tea – bags are easiest
    The powder milk substitutes need to be mixed well so that everything dissolves and we use the Fennel Tea to make it up rather than water as we’ve found it helps with bloat issues. For some time now we have made up enough feed for a whole day the night before it’s required, stored it in the fridge and remixed it the following morning. Don’t use an electric whisk or blender as it adds too much air.

    Refer to the list below for amounts and frequencies. Heat up only enough feed for one sitting and warm it to body temperature. Test it on the back of your wrist as you would for a baby. We use a bottle warmer with a dish in the top to keep the food at the right temperature throughout feeding but others use food warmers with tea lights.

    baby hedgehog being syringe fed on its feet
    Place the baby on a warm towel on your lap, on a heat mat, or wrap it in a warm cloth and hold it upright, different hoglets prefer different methods.

    NEVER feed the baby on its back as it may inhale the feed and drown.

    Put the tip of the syringe, or rubber tube if it’s a very young hoglet, under the lip and gently squeeze out a drop. Some hoglets will instantly attack the syringe and gobble the lot down, others take a while to get the idea. Feed slowly, do not be tempted to press the plunger hard.

    The youngest hoglets (pinkies) will need to be toiletted when they come in. If you haven’t seen them passing urine or faeces by themselves then you MUST do it for them. A cotton bud dipped in almond oil then gently but quickly tickled around the genital area should do the trick but the tinies have paper thin skin and you can make them very sore.

    NB. Weights given are a guide only. Once hoglets are a week old there can be a significant weight difference between litter mates and the more there are in a litter the lighter they are likely to be so weights are not given for anything from 1 week – 4 weeks.
    Weigh the hoglets at the same time each day and make a note of it. This will act as a guide to growth.
    In addition, weigh before each feed and again afterwards. For every 1ml of feed the hoglet has ingested, an increase of 1g weight should be noticed. Do not note these weights down or you will confuse or scare yourself silly. Use your daily weights to track progress.
    Make sure the hoglets are kept very warm. If they are cold they will use most of their energy trying to keep warm and will not gain weight. Most rescues recommend around 35c for the first couple of weeks until they can maintain their own body temperature.
    Hoglets should be fed up to 25% of their bodyweight daily split into multiple feeds

    Do not overfeed. A distended tummy means bloat. Stop feeding immediately and give rehydration fluid instead

    NB. When hoglets first come in DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED THE FULL AMOUNTS mentioned below. They feed on demand with mum. We are forcing them to eat on our terms. They need time for their tummy to adjust.

    Premature & Newborn
    Completely pink
    Approx weight 7-19 grams*
    Spines are beneath an outer skin. If the babies are born with spines mum may well end up with stuck babies and need a vet IMMEDIATELY.
    *Hoglets weighing under 12g may be premature. ALL hoglets will struggle if they have not had a first feed from mum.

    If you have never dealt with these before we STRONGLY recommend you work with somebody who has. These babies are tiny and often highly compromised. The first couple of days are crucial and of you get it wrong nothing you do afterwards will save them. This is not a competition. Let experience help the babies.

    Birth to three days old
    At birth the hoglets are blind, deaf, pink, bald
    Approx weight 15-25 grams*
    At one hour, white spines start to push through the outer skin
    At 36 hours a second coat of dark brown spines begin to emerge. The hoglet starts to jump if disturbed

    Once you have established a regular feeding pattern, give 1-2 ml of milk substitute every 2 hours. DO NOT GIVE ANY MILK CONTAINING LACTOSE

    Mum feeds round the clock for the first few days, never leaving the nest. At 3-4 days she will start to come out at night to feed and water herself.

    Three days to one week
    Hoglets are blind and deaf
    Darker spines are starting to come through
    Approx weight 25-30 grams
    Do not leave more than 6 hours between feeds
    Hoglets may jump if disturbed. Great care is needed not to drop them.

    Feed 1-2ml of formula every 3 hours. The last feed should be around midnight to 2am

    It is often a good idea, especially if this is he first time you have dealt with them, to sit on a low stool or on a carpeted floor so the hoglet has less of a distance to fall.

    One to two weeks old
    At one week – the hoglets are still blind and deaf.
    They can be very vocal when hungry, frightened or disturbed
    The white spines are still longer than the brown ones.
    Whiskers start to emerge
    At 11 days old hoglets start to curl

    Feed 2-3ml of formula every 3 hours

    Hoglets should be steadily gaining weight, if not, increase the frequency of the feeds to every 2 hours for a few days

    Two to three weeks old
    Two weeks – More second coat spines.
    Fine hairs like stubble on snout
    Eyes and ears begin to open
    Third coat of larger and stronger spines start to emerge

    Feed 3-5mls of formula every 3-4 hours
    Hoglets should be steadily gaining weight, if not, increase the frequency of the feeds

    Three weeks old
    Few white spines left, almost replaced by third stage spines
    First incisor teeth start to appear
    Dense covering of short brown hair

    Feed 5-6mls every 3-4 hours and leave a small, shallow dish of feed to encourage baby to lap

    Four weeks old
    No longer has the rounded puppy appearance to the snout
    skin completely covered by fur
    Should weigh between 84-130 grams

    Start to give solid food as the new teeth should have erupted. It’s often a good idea to wean the baby by intially liquidising some puppy meat and mixing it in with the formula

    Five to six weeks old
    Resemble miniature adults
    Should be walking without wobbling
    Fast forward, no brakes!

    Phase out hand feeds and give small dish of formula and liquid food mixed together
    Hills Prescription A/D or Royal Canin Recovery RS are ideal first food choices and are normally well accepted by hoglets
    Six to eight weeks old
    Give tinned puppy food
    Make sure a very shallow dish of fresh water is available at all times
    Shallow is very important as a hoglet can drown in very little
    Eight weeks old
    Give dog or cat food
    Should now weigh 350 grams
    Please be aware that hoglets are not straight forward to care for. Many things can go wrong along the way and even with the support of a good vet, it’s extremely easy to lose the little ones.

    No matter how much you believe you can raise them, I would beg you to seek expert advice. If you go to a good carer they will normally assess the hoglets and then agree a care regime with you. It does not automatically mean you will have to give the animals up. It may be they will be given straight back along with a care sheet, or possibly kept at the rescue for a few days and then returned to you if that’s what you want.


    Thank you. I am booked onto the Vale Wildlife course later in the year so hopefully I will feel more useful.
    Thanks again.


    Hope it goes well but in the meantime I guess any of the hedgehog rescues would be happy to advise what is best for your 2 little ones. Let us know how they do.


    The hedgehogs should be kept warm with supplemental heat if needed. Offer kitten milk replacer in shallow dishes, not too deep to prevent drowning. Try softened high protein kitten foods. Handle minimally to reduce stress. As registered wildlife carers, follow regulations and professional ethics on when to return healthy orphaned wildlife to the wild. Consult wildlife rehabilitator resources or veterinarians for more complete, evidence-based guidance on optimal temporary care and release timing for these orphaned juvenile hedgehogs.

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