I think it is time for breeders to speak out on the actual costs, time commitment and emotional commitment involved in breeding.

There seem to be many people wanting to get into breeding and I'm not sure they realize just what they are getting themselves into.

Financial outlay:
- vet costs for healthy animals
- vet costs for mites and common illnesses
- vet costs for emergencies, spays, infections etc.
- day to day expenses for food, housing, bedding etc
- anything not mentioned above

Time Commitment:
- daily cleaning feeding etc for healthy hedgehogs
- time commitment for sick hedgehogs, ie: syringe feedings, meds etc
- time commitment for handfeeding babies
- anything not mentioned above

Emotional drain:
- tell us about the heartbreak when mom cannibalizes her newborns or kills her older babies
- when mom is unable to care for the babies
- loosing handfed babies
- when mom has birthing problems or worse yet dies
- anything else that you can think of.


Nancy said:

I decided to breed because of my love for these little creatures and because of the fact that there were so few hedgehog breeders in my province. After the death of our first little guy we could not find a breeder within 5 hours of us.

At the time I decided to breed we had 10 pet only hedgehogs and had been owned by our hedgehogs for 10 months.

After much looking I found my first pedigreed female and male. Her first litter was cannibalized. This was devastating as I was so excited about my first litter. Luckily mom was ok.

Months later we tried again. This time she delivered 7 tiny dead babies that were born too early. She lost an immense amount of blood and was so weak she could not even lift her head. The vet said there were no remaining babies, put her on antibiotic and gave her sub-Q injections as well as iron and calcium. She did not hold out much hope for her as she was so very weak and sick. I had to syringe feed her every 3 hours. She had 3 more sub-q's over the next 5 days when the vet felt she was finally strong enough to survive surgery. At this point she still could not walk although she did have enough strength to try fighting me when I fed her. She was spayed. She came through her surgery well but still would not even attempt to eat on her own for the 10 days. We were feeding her a liquid diet from the vet that is given to sick and recovering animals. Finally she started to nibble at food and is back to her normal self although she now attempts hibernation very easily which I feel is a result of her illness. Luckily I run my business from home so was here to be able to care for her round the clock. Had I worked outside the home, this would not have been possible. Sleeping for more than 3 hours at a time did not happen for almost 3 weeks. The emotional toll was the worst. Every time I went to check on her I expected she'd be dead. My daughter and I sat in tears with her many an evening because she was so very sick and helpless and we were so afraid of losing her.

I got off really easy at the vet. We were given a discount because she sees all of our other animals. All told for her infection and spay it was just over $500. She also became a pet so I lost her purchase price for breeding.

I don't spend a great deal on bedding as mine are all on liners except for the pregnant girls. Shavings is a minimal cost of probably $10. month.
Food is expensive, probably $50. per month.
I spend about an hour a day just cleaning cages. Add wheels to that and its another hour easily. Then add playtime which I do while cleaning and will on the computer.

I had another girl who died when her baby and a foster baby were 3 weeks old. She quit eating and developed FLD. We don't know if she had a uterine infection causing her to quit eating, or what the reason but despite our and the vets best efforts, we lost her. That was close to $700. Thankfully the babies survived.

Finding baby body parts when mom has decided to cannibalize is heart breaking and not for those with weak stomachs.

There is always the risk of uterine infections, prolapsed uterus's, stuck babies, uterine hemorrhage, FLD. Having a good experienced vet both during the day and after hours is imperative. When things go wrong, it happens fast.

Often mom rejects the babies and the success rate of hand feeding babies is low. They can survive for weeks and just up and die. Hand feeding is round the clock, every two hours which means babies go to work with you and basically control your life for the next 5 weeks.

The time commitment with babies is large. I spent an hour numerous times each day handling the babies. I spent most of my evening handling the babies, cleaning, feeding and also talking to prospective new owners. I would spend close to an hour each morning just checking everyone and making sure of warm tummies, clean water and food.


pekodinky said:
After having a surprise litter me and my husband were thinking about breeding from our female purposly the next time round because where we live doesn't have many breeders and sadly because of the money involved we thought it was too tempting but after reading Nancy's advice and her unfortunate stories I don't think I will at all.

I am going to keep her as a pet which is why I bought her in the first place. With breeding your hedgie you won't be able to play with mom for several weeks when babies are young, this is what I've found most annoying, as she is my new pet and now I can't play and bond with her as planned until babies are old enough to be handled.

So far our current baby hedgie's are looking well, when mom will let us see them, but usually she is hiding them under her tummy and the other night I went to check on them and one baby was about 10 inchs away from mom crying. Their only 3 days old. I left them but came back a couple of hours later and baby was still away from mom crying not as active and I worried mom had abandoned her so I got a spoon and placed her back with mom and she hid her straight away and now their all fine and well again.

The pregnancy wasn't planned but I am proud of the litter but personally I don't think breeding is for people who worry easily, I do and I can't sleep terrified that I'll wake up and find them dead in the morning or that mom has eaten them. Also I am going to cry and get so depressed so much when I have to give babies away.


Written by jandshyne:

Hedgehog Breeding

Hedgehog breeding can be a very rewarding experience but it can also be heartbreaking and very costly. Hedgehog breeding should only be undertaken after some important points have been given the utmost consideration:

Most importantly are you USDA Licensed?? Are you aware breeding hedgehogs requires a USDA License? Do you live in a legal state?? Do you know if your state Game and Fish or your local animal control require specific licensure to breed hedgehogs?? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you’re not quite ready to breed, breeding without the proper licensure or in an illegal state puts both you and your hedgehogs at risk. Hedgehogs can be seized and destroyed and you can be fined so please be sure you have covered all of your bases with the proper licensure.

Hedgehogs should only be bred with the intention of improving the breed and producing top quality hedgehogs of superb health and temperament. It should never be undertaken for monetary gain.

Pet store Hedgehogs, rescue Hedgehogs, and other Hedgehogs lacking a traceable lineage should never be bred. A Hedgehog should only be bred when you can be certain you are not furthering a line full of possible genetic diseases and undesirable traits.

Take care in purchasing your initial breeding stock, many breeders (myself included) get so wrapped up in buying Hedgehogs they make the mistake of buying animals with undesirable traits or incomplete pedigrees. This is a costly mistake I can assure you! You may spend more money buying high quality animals at the inception of your breeding program but in the end it will be worth it to know that you are breeding the best stock you possibly can for the right reason.

There are mentors out there. Find a mentor, their experiences and their guidance are invaluable when it comes to breeding quality animals.

As the numbers of animals in your breeding program increases so will your veterinary costs, feed costs, equipment costs, etc… You must be prepared to spend the money required to care for your animals. Many breeders purchase a large number of animals and then discover both the quality and quantity of care and supplies diminishes and becomes cost and time prohibitive. This is irresponsible and inexcusable; the animals should always come first.

Breeding is a long term commitment, do not undertake it if you are not absolutely certain. Many breeders burn out in a short amount of time and this usually takes its toll on the animals who are then sold to another breeder who’s may be in the same boat in 6 months. It’s a vicious cycle. Please do your research and be fully prepared.

Losing your Hedgehogs is devastating. Losing those you’ve fought to save, been up with round the clock, syringe fed, ran back and forth to the vet clinic with, lost sleep over, etc… is absolutely heart breaking and I can guarantee you if you breed it will happen at some point. You have to be prepared for that eventuality. It won’t just be hoglets you will lose, you may lose your adult Hedgehogs as well and nothing quite compares to sitting up for 12 hours with a Hedgehog only to have them die in your arms. The more Hedgehogs you have in residence the more Hedgehogs you run the risk of losing. Ask yourself if you are fully prepared to lose your entire herd. On the flip side of that ask yourself if you are willing to do what’s necessary should a parasite, fungus, or bacteria take hold of your herd and present you with the need to spend thousands of dollars identifying, treating, and eliminating the problem. As a hobby breeder to lose 1 Hedgehog is a major blow but to lose 12 is devastating.

Ask yourself if your lifestyle and geographic region supports your choice to breed. Do you often spend long hours working away from home? If so how will you hand feed a hoglet every 2 hours when necessary or administer syringe feedings to a convalescing Hedgehog every 2 hours? Do you like to travel? If so who will take care of your Hedgehogs while you are on vacation? Can they really be trusted? Are you willing to forgo any future vacations with your family in order to stay home and care for your Hedgehogs should you not be able to find a competent pet sitter? If you do find a pet sitter are you willing to trust them with the lives of your entire herd and their offspring? Do you have access to an emergency veterinarian? Most Hedgehog emergencies happen in the off hours and on weekends, it’s Murphy’s Law and it will eventually apply here. Are you willing to pay the excess for an emergency charge when necessary? Do you have the space to house any offspring for an indefinite amount of time should they become un-saleable? Female hedgehogs can only breed for a certain amount of time, when they are done they are done. What will you do with your retired breeding hedgehogs?? Do you have the space, time, determination, and will to house, care for, and feed any offspring for an indefinite amount of time should it not be a seller’s market? Do you have a customer base available to you? Can you ship your babies to other parts of the country or even the world? Are you willing to take in rescues? If you breed you will eventually be presented with rescues that can be very time and cost prohibitive. Are you willing to offer a money back guarantee for the life of any hoglets born of your breeding? Are you willing to take back a hoglet and possibly offer a refund should a buyer decide they’ve made a mistake and a Hedgehog is not the pet for them?

Are you willing to learn what it takes to breed the best of the best? Are you willing to possibly limit your lines to a reasonable and manageable amount so as not to sacrifice quality, health, and temperament for quantity and the simple pleasure of breeding for those unusual colors?

Are you prepared to keep the necessary records to ensure you are not inbreeding, to track hereditary diseases, to manage the accounting side of Hedgehog breeding? Do you know enough about running your own business to keep accurate financial records? If you do not keep accurate financial records it could get you in to serious trouble with the IRS and other agencies. Breeding also ensures you will have to keep track of all receipts for any supplies, food, animals, travel, etc… so you can accurately file your taxes. It will also mean paying a little extra at tax time when the tax preparation service in the mall has no clue how to help you file as a breeder.

Are you prepared to educate and guide pet owners and potential breeders? Are you prepared to answer calls and e-mails at all hours of the day and night 7 days a week, 365 days a year when a stranger is given your name by your hairdresser and she has a problem with her Hedgehog and she needs your help? Better yet, are you prepared to receive e-mails and phone calls from people who are unfit to provide homes for these magnificent creatures?? Do you have what it takes to tell a potentially bad owner you will not sell your baby to them?? Are you willing to make sure your babies go to loving homes no matter what you might have to do or say?

Finally, and in my opinion the most important, do you want to be a large scale mill or a hobby breeder of pet Hedgehogs?? Hobby breeders have a duty to uphold themselves to a different standard than millers. Millers have hundreds or even thousands of animals. To a miller the loss of one Hedgehog who may have eventually been tossed in a bin to die once bred out, is no big deal. To be a hobby breeder is to put the animals and the pet owner first and foremost. Before profit, before pride, before the show, and before even your own self. To be a hobby breeder is to take on an overwhelming amount of responsibility and to give your self heart first to the animals and to finding them the perfect forever home. Please make that distinction in your mind and in your heart before deciding to breed.

There are MANY more things to consider. These are just a few of the things that immediately come to mind and that other breeders or myself have had experience with.


Written by Michelle

I started breeding hedgehogs because there weren't very many breeders in my area and I was afraid that people who wanted hedgehogs would be forced to get them from substandard pet stores. Now some of the things I face every day as a breeder are:
1. Cost, I spend about $50 a month on quality food, whether or not I have any hoglets to sell, so when they are not producing it gets expensive. The vet charges $50 per visit, and if you get an outbreak of mites, it can cost over $100 per hedgehog to treat.
2. Commitment- I can't just easily go away for the weekend or go on vacation, because I have to find someone willing to take care of my hedgehogs. If I'm at a friend's house and it's getting late, I can't just stay over because I have to come back and make sure all the hedgies are fed and happy.
3. It can be traumatizing to find dead babies and/ or body parts. Sometimes if a mother hedgehog is being rough with her babies, you have to stay up all night to keep an eye on her, and this can be exhausting.
4. When the hedgehogs get too old for breeding, you either have to try to find space for them while you bring in new breeding stock, or you have to find new homes for them. It can be really hard to let them go, because you get close to them.


Written by nbelval

Breeder with 4 years experience

Here are my views on this:
Breeder with 12 current breeders in our herd.

Financial outlay:
- vet costs for healthy animals $120-200 annually includes well check visit and stool samples.
- vet costs for mites and common illnesses
average $200 per year, have not had mites (knock on wood), but other issues have arose.
- vet costs for emergencies, spays, infections etc.
$300+ each time. I've been pretty lucky with these, but this past year was over $500 in emergencies and skin issues.
I work at my Vet office so these prices include my discount, which on some items can be half off. So these figures are low compared to most I assume.
- day to day expenses for food, housing, bedding etc
I don't know about daily, but my yearly expenses last year were $$$. For profit I made $175.68, roughly the price of one female baby.
Not a huge chunk of profit, considering I have many other animals as pets and any profit goes towards their care. This is the first year I have made a profit and I have been doing this for four years.
- anything not mentioned above
You aren't going to make money breeding hedgies, you have to actually HAVE money BEFORE deciding to breed them. I am fortunate that my husband makes enough money that I can stay at home and only work a few hours per week. The money I bring in is soley for the hedgehogs and the vet discount helps a whole lot too!
It is an expensive hobby!

Time Commitment:
- daily cleaning feeding etc for healthy hedgehogs 1hr 30 mins.
- time commitment for sick hedgehogs, ie: syringe feedings, meds etc
25-45 minutes
- time commitment for handfeeding babies
An eternity! Every two hours for the first week, every 3 hours for the 2nd week and then you can start spacing the feedings a litter further apart at night. The every two hours is day and NIGHT! Kind of hard to sleep when you finish the last baby of a litter of five with feeding and stimulating and in half an hour it's time to start with the first baby again!
- anything not mentioned above
My yearly cost was posted above. This includes business expenses, advertising, food, bedding, cages, hedgehog purchases, and additional items such as toys, wheels,nest boxes, etc.

Emotional drain:
- tell us about the heartbreak when mom cannibalizes her newborns or kills her older babies
Unmeasurable. There is nothing like getting your hopes up for a nice bug beautiful litter of babies and then finding them torn to pieces or missing entirely. It's also hard not to blame the mother and still want to keep her, this is just something that comes with the territory of breeding hedgies.
- when mom is unable to care for the babies
You have to dedicate several weeks to the babies, and if you work or go to school, you usually can't bring the babies with you. You can't feed a little extra and expect them to go for long periods without food. This will kill them! If you are lucky enough to have another lactating mom, she MAY take them in to foster, but you must realize she may also reject the babies, and in you bothering her own brood, destroy or abandon them as well. Not fun.
- loosing handfed babies
Have not had this happen, but have had an abandoned baby die in my hand while trying to warm him up. Very sad.
- when mom has birthing problems or worse yet dies
I had my FAVORITE girl die two days after giving birth, she had destroyed all but one baby, and then died on the way to the Vet. Her remaining baby survived, but had to be hand fed for many, many long weeks. It was very hard to lose her and then fear losing her son, every time I had to feed him.
- anything else that you can think of.
Not only do you lose the babies, and the moms, but in having a breeding herd, you will lose hedgies, some young some old. They are prone to many problems, and it just can't be prevented in some cases.
So you have the heartache of losing mom's, babies, and dad's. Usually you are very attached to your hedgies and it's heartbreaking every time one passes away. There is also the problem of finding GOOD homes for your hedgies. Yes, hedgies can sell very quickly, but you are responsible for the lives you helped to create. It's important to make sure your buyers are knowledgeable in the care of their new pet, and are prepared for the commitment. I turn down many applications each week, and while it may not be best for business, it is best for my hedgies.

Also tell us why you decided to breed, (be honest) and why you continue to breed.
I started breeding because I loved my first hedgehog very much, and when she passed on I could not find any in my area. I did not want one from a pet store so I purchased from a breeder half way across the country. I ended up purchasing two (male and female) and told myself that I would stay small and breed quality healthy hedgies for the people in my area that also wanted a hedgie companion but did not want to purchase from a pet store. From there we have become addicted and our herd has grown. We are still a small scale breeder however and dedicate much time, money and love into our prickly friends.
Why I continue, for the same reasons above, and yet I ask myself that question often, especially when I have a destroyed litter, an ill or dying hedgie, or have to deal with people that don't know what they are getting into and are not serious about hedgie ownership.
But then I send a hedgie home with a loving couple, or a family and see the delight in their face upon meeting their new pet and read the emails and see the pictures and updates from clients, and it makes it all worth it. I've accomplished my goal of providing a healthy happy pet, to someone like myself who loves and appreciates their animals.

I'm sure I babbled on way too much, but I am passionate about my hedgies and nothing irritates me more, then someone trying to breed for the fun of it (it is not much fun), or for the money (not much of that either). Please, research breeding very carefully and make sure you have owned the animal you will be breeding for at LEAST a year, prefferably more. If you cannot properly care for a pet, how are you going to provide for it and it's babies?


Written by Lauren of Rosewood Hedgehogs

For the financial outlay of breeding, when my herd of 8 got mites, it cost around $100.00 for the medication probably a little more than that. Every year the vet needs to come and check all the animals and get a stool sample of each one, that costs around $100.00 as well and that is not including if any of them are sick for the medication they will need. Oh boy for emergencies......

Rosie had three babies die inside of her early in her pregnancy, one survived and he's now being handfed. She had to go into an emergency surgery because the three babies had started to rott causing her a huge infection. The surgery was estimated before hand to be around $500.00-$600.00 because they were going to try and do a spay package. Well they had to look at the x-rays again and realized they had to get right in and it would be atleast $800.00-$1100.00, and maybe $1300.00 but they doubted it. Once everything was done, we needed to rush the baby over to a near breeder to see if her female would foster the baby with her four week olds. She was taking the baby in, but not nursing him because he wasn't squeaking so she had started to handfeed him. We had to then go all the way back to pick him up once we found out she didn't nurse him which is easily an hour and twenty minutes away. Tufts where Rosie's surgery was done, was over that length of time away so we had to drive a lot. It turned out once the surgery was done that the price was $1300.00, even though they didn't think it would be that much in the end it was. Now we need to get formula for the baby wich is expensive, a small tub of powder is $20.00.

Once a week we need to buy some bedding which is $20.00, so thats around $80.00 a month. The wheels are $16.00-$20.00 each depending on where we get them, and the high quality cat food is around $50.00 a month.

Usually it takes an hour to two hours cleaning out the cages, once a month I really wash them and put bleach in them and make sure they're very clean, then wash them out again. The wheels take about 8-10ish minutes to do each one. For a sick hedgehog, I check on them every two hours to make sure that they're eating and syring them water if need be. Handfeeding I handfeed the babies every two hours- two and a half hours, then have to stimulate them to make them go to the bathroom before and after their feedings. Wash what I use to feed them before and after with hot water and soap. Then I need to hold each of them also atleast 30 minutes a day or let them come out for playtime for 30 minutes which is very time consuming, but needed to make sure they stay happy and friendly.

Once you get a litter you cant help but get attached and excited no matter how much you dont want to let yourself, it does happen. Its so upsetting to either walk in and check on mom and find a baby that is half chewed up when you've been waiting such a long time for the certain litter. Or to have babies that are over two weeks old and think your finally in the clearing, then find a baby or missing or chewed up by mom. I've had that happen a few times, most of them were under a week old, but I've had a 16 day old baby get eaten by mom and that is one of the saddest things to have to take care of and pick up after. We almost lost one of our mom's this past weekend to birthing problems and she needed emergency surgery, she said they thought they had lost her for a second and if we had waited any longer she would not have survived it was so bad. I have yet to loose one of my babies from handfeeding. I have only had to do it once and so far its going along well. I have had one of my hedgehogs die on me and that was so hard because you become so attached to your pets. She was my first hedgehog and so it was especially hard on me, and she had died because of liver problems. As Nicole said, it is pretty hard to find good homes for your babies, especially if you dont live in a place with hedgehogs on high demand. Before each litter you need to make sure you have people lined up to get babies, because if you dont sell the babies you'll have to keep them and you always need to think about that and keep that in the back of your head.

The reason I had started to breed was because I fel in love with the hedgehogs. They are such wonderful pets and when I got to get a new hedgehog I would love the feeling of getting someone new to share my love with. I wanted to be able to spread the love and be able to give to others what I have been given, and see their smiles on their faces when they bring they're new loved one home.


Written by Bob

Well, I have breed hedgehogs for 5 years and I can attest that I have been through tough periods. Perhaps one of the toughest things I have gone through is a cannibalized litter. It seems to hit you out of nowhere. When you think everything is going well, until you wake up one morning to pieces of your prized litter scattered around the nest. At which point there is nothing you can do. Cannibalism is a fairly common aspect of hedgehog breeding.

On other occasions I have had to hand feed baby hedgehogs every 2 hours, because the mother suddenly is unable or unwilling to care for her offspring. This responsibility has left me sleep deprived for weeks. These are just a few of the many situations that I have encounter, when raising hedgehogs.

Other times a mother will raise several litters, then out of nowhere decide to kill her 3rd litter. These things happen and you as a breeder have to be prepared to digest them. The mother, your pet must be respected whether she raises her babies or rips them apart. It is a part of nature and life. So, when you decide to breed, please, please, breed responsible. The last thing anybody wants to do is to bring unwanted animals into the pet industry.

Other times everything is fine and dandy. Sometimes you do everything wrong and the mother raises them all. Not to mention the standard costs of vet visits, medication, and operations. Breeding hedgehogs is a gamble, when you play you have to put all your cards on the table.

Something to think about.

Bob


Written by bloane

Financial outlay:
My licensing, vet bills, bedding, food, advertising, various assorted bills, supplies, etc. cost me close to $300 per month.

Time Commitment:
UGH! Between the animal care itself, and related time commitments (hedgehog related phone calls, emails, personal visits, etc) I spend probably 20 hours per week EASILY, and much more when I have hedgehogs sick, babies with problems, special events, etc.

Emotional drain:
Almost everyone out there knows what it is like to lose a pet that is very special to you. It isn't any different when one of my hedgehogs die. EVERY one of my hedgehogs is special to me for some reason. Even the newborn babies are special to me, because they are little bitty continuances of their very special parents. As well, with hedgehogs, it seems like the negative events LOVE to happen in groups. And the more animals you have, the more negative things they can come up with to throw at you. I have dealt with a couple of major disaster groupings around here, and it is VERY heartbreaking.
As well, breeding puts you in the firing line of many people. There are the "You shouldn't breed those animals, look how many people abuse them" individuals, the "They are unhappy, they belong in the wild" individuals, and many other people who love to make your life difficult.
I started breeding because I was fascinated with hedgehogs, and had some AMAZING individuals who were willing to encourage my fascination (you know who you are). Why do I continue breeding? HECK IF I KNOW. It certainly isn't for my sanity. But one thing I do know, my life would be very hard to adjust to if I didn't have all of my pets.

Becca