How long is a hedgehog pregnant for?-
Hedgehog gestation is normally around 35 days. However, live babies can be delivered as early as 29 days, or as late as 59 days from the last breeding opportunity.
How many babies are in a litter?-
3-5 babies are often born in a litter. However, there can be as few as 1 or as many as 11 babies.
How old should a female be when she is bred?-
It is recommended that you wait until a female is at least 6 months of age before she is bred for the first time. You should not breed a female if she is or may be over 18 months of age and has never had babies before. There is a possibility that her pelvis has formed in a manner that makes it very difficult or possibly impossible for her to deliver the babies if she is too old for her first litter.
When is a female too old to be bred?-
That depends on the female. Typically, it is suggested to retire breeding females at around 2 1/2 years of age. Sometimes, they will retire themselves at a younger age, by failing to concieve or by refusing to raise babies.
How old do males need to be when they are bred?-
Typically, it is recommended to wait until a male is close to 4 months of age before starting to breed him. This is partially to allow the male to focus on his own growth, and partially because his hormones may not kick in fully until this age. Some breeders only use their males very lightly from 4-6 months of age, and wait until after 6 months to start using the male with much regularity. You should NOT expect a male younger than 4 months to be able to be trusted around females without getting them pregnant. While not common, males as young as 5 weeks old have been known to impregnate females successfully.
How old do baby hedgehogs have to be before they are safe from the chance of their mother killing them?-
There isn't really a "safe" timeframe. There have been babies as old as 5 weeks of age that have been killed for no obvious reason. Typically, if the babies get to 2 weeks old, they are pretty safe.
When can I first clean the cage or play with the babies after birth?-
It is recommended to wait until the babies are at least 10-14 days old before disturbing them. At this time it is usually safe to clean extremely soiled areas of the cage as long as they can be done without disturbing the nest area. You should always pay attention to the mother during these activities though, if she seems nervous or frantic about your actions, she should be left for a few more days.
At what age do you wean baby hedgehogs?-
Typically at around 6 weeks of age. Some breeders wean younger than that, but it isn't recommended because often the babies have a hard time eating and drinking enough on their own to maintain their health. Sometimes, in litters with small babies, breeders may wait until 7 weeks or a bit longer, but this should be done with extreme care because if there are males in the litter, they may start feeling their hormones and possibly impregnate their mother or sisters.
How often can a mother hedgehog have babies?-
It is recommended that a mother hedgehog does not have more than 2 litters a year.
Why are hedgehogs so expensive?-
This may not seem to be a breeding related question, but it actually is. Theoretically, a mother hedgehog can have 8 babies per year pretty easily. Realistically, hedgehog breeding is not that reliable. First of all, not every meeting between a male and a female result in conception. Depending on time of year, weather cycles, and other unknown factors, the rate runs somewhere around 50% of breedings resulting in a pregnancy. Since it is very difficult to know if a hedgehog is pregnant or not, you will have to wait until there is no chance of delivery from a breeding before you can try again. A failed breeding may lose you more than 2 months (60 days of possible pregnancy from the very last day the pair has the opportunity to breed) in which you have nothing at all to show at the end. Ok, so if a breeder is lucky, the female hedgehog IS pregnant. Just because she delivers does not mean that you will have successful babies. One breeder compiled litter results from a period of time and found that approximately 1/3 of babies that are born do not make it to weaning age. This gives you a very small quantity of babies from a single female in a year.