Requirements for breeding
By: PixiesExoticHedgies, Nancy, Gnarly, lilhoglet on: Wed 11 of March, 2009 14:31 EDT (8203 Reads)
Before you even think about breeding, you need to do tons of research and be mentored by a reputable breeder. There is a lot more involved with breeding, than just reading online and putting two PET quality hedgies together to make babies. WHS is a serious neurological disease, and responsible breeders are trying very hard to breed it OUT of our herds.
It took me over a year to acquire good BREEDING quality hedgies. Then it took a couple months to receive approval by the HBA. You must have a mentor, and agree to the HBA's CODE OF ETHICS. I visited my mentor (several hours away), many many times, with tons of questions. She (and the HHC) are still educating me, nearly 2 years later. There is always new things to learn.....as new situations arise.
Even now, I am retiring some of my original hedgies, which were considered GOOD breeding quality. Due to a recent discovery of a couple WHS hedgies, many reputable breeders are in search of hedgies with EXCEPTIONAL breeding quality.....as we continue to try and breed out the WHS genes.
Anyone interested in becoming a breeder should have AT LEAST the following:
+ Substantial financial means: emergency surgery is expensive, and a strong possibility of birthing related complications should be considered if one wishes to breed hedgehogs. A minimal of $2000, should be set aside for such emergencies.
+ A strong heart and stomach: Not only is there the possibility the babies may not survive, but there is also a possibility of losing the mother. This would be especially devastating if the hedgehog is a beloved pet, as many are.
+ A trusted mentor: Someone you can call at any time of the day or night, if anything should arise. Many people have more than one person they can call, as a safety net.
+ Hedgehogs: not just "pet quality hedgehogs". All hedgehogs should be free of disease, and should be unrelated. WHS is a devastating disease, and all steps should be taken to prevent this tragedy in further generations of hedgehogs.
+ A deep understanding of all things hedgehog: this transcends the basics such as proper diet, and temperature requirements. A strong understanding of hedgehogs behavior, physical development, physical abnormalities, possible aliments, and genetics.
+ Time, and lots of it: caring for one hedgehog is time consuming. Caring for multiple hedgehogs and there offspring is exponentially more time consuming. There is always a chance mother hedgehogs will reject their babies. If this is the case, and there are no foster mothers available, babies will have to be hand feed. This has to take place every two hours, for weeks.
+ A fantastic exotics vet: A vet with hedgehogs experience is a must, especially in the case of an emergency.
+ Homes for all babies: Once you have bred your hedgehogs, you need a place to out them. All homes should be carefully screened.
+ Plenty of space: Once babies are weaned from their mother, they need a cage of their own. Males must be separated from females. There is a possibility males may fight with each other, and require individual cages.
Aside from everything that has been mentioned I would also like to note that unless you can fully devote your time to the litter and mother then do NOT breed.
What happens if you need to handfeed a baby every few hours?
You need to be available.
It is not about money, it is not about "experiencing" babies or the joy of birth....
It is about being responsible for another life and I don't know if a lot of people truly realize that.
This is not something to enter into blindly.
1) Please know the ins and outs of taking care of a hedgehog as a pet first.
2)Then start talking to a mentor BEFORE considering even buying breeding quality hedgehogs. The mentor will help advise you in finding suitable ones, what to look for in lineage, etc.
3) Have a network!! As Gnarly said you will very likely need to someone to call - if your mentor is not available, you should be able to call someone else.
4) If possible have a breeder nearby that you trust. I know that this is not an option for most people, however, if it is one for you then take advantage of it. Not only will there be support nearby, but possible surrogates if needed.
5) Be prepared for the worst. I really hate to sound pessimistic, but so often people get caught up in the joyous occassion of it all... The mortality rate is so high for litters. Anything from stillbirths, cannibalism, or rejection can happen. Can you handle seeing bodies and blood from a baby that has been half-eaten? Can you handle the mother dying?
6) Have a list of vets that are readily available to you. In the case of an emergency you want to have more than one resource to rely on.
7) Have money set aside, as Gnarly said.
8) Be prepared to take care of the litter until every one of them has a home.
9) Don't sell a baby to just anybody.
10) Be available to answer questions to potential owners.
There is more of course, that's all I can think of now. No, I'm not a breeder I just wanted to add my point of view on it because I too have seen people deciding out of nowhere that they want to breed. I think it was a very smart idea to make this thread. Kudos to Nancy, Gnarly, and PixiesExoticHedgies? (who came up with the idea).
I think anyone contemplating breeding should own hedgehogs for at least 1 full year and ideally should have owned a few for the lifespan of the hedgehogs. Caring for ill hedgehogs, elderly hedgehogs and experiencing all life stages helps gives valuable insight into all aspects of hedgehog care and ownership. Reading information off the internet is no substitute for hands on experience. Ideally I think a breeder should have experienced illness and syringe feeding, hibernation attempts, behaviour issues, and death.
I also feel the potential breeder should be well acquainted with their vet which can only happen if the vet has been caring for other hedgehogs the person owns. Having a good relationship with the vet is very important in emergency situations or even if all you need is a phone consultation.
Finances are extremely important and vet bills can mount up quickly. Anyone who has a tight budget or who is dependent on parents to pay vet bills should not be breeding. We hear too many stories of the hedgehog needing vet care and the owner either can't afford the vet or the parent refuses to spend the money.
A room of their own. Mom and her expectant family deserve and need a quiet space for her to deliver. There also needs to be space for multiple cages for when the babies start to wean and need to be separated from mom.