• The Important Introduction

    Your first step in setting up a breeding is to choose your mates. If you only have one male and one female, then this will be simple. However, if you have several quality breedable hedgehogs, then it can be more difficult.

    Check the pedigrees- Even if you think you are familiar with the pedigrees on both animals, double check them carefully. It is a good idea not to breed hedgehogs that are more closely related than one common ancestor in the first 4 generations without a LOT of consideration and advice from other experienced breeders.

    Balance out flaws- If one hedgehog has a flaw, then choose a mate who can counter-balance that flaw. Such as, if one hedgehog has a less than ideal face, choose a mate for that animal who has a nice face form to help improve the face quality of offspring. Breed a runner style hedgehog to a more correct teardrop shaped hedgehog. This will help improve the quality of the less correct characteristics.

    Compare color pedigrees- There is nothing wrong with breeding for colors, as long as you have high quality breeding animals to start with. Don't expect to be able to target it down to a single shade, but you can certainly try for a certain range. If you want standard babies, then look for pedigrees that contain a high percentage of standards. Same with any other color. If you want rainbow litters, then look for a wide variety of colors in both pedigrees. Rainbow litters are lots of fun.

    The important introduction-
    There are many ways to introduce your male and female together for breeding purposes. The following is how *I* do things, and is not necessarily the RIGHT way, just the way that works best for me.

    Each evening, about the time everyone starts waking up, I put the male and female together for 30 minutes, closely supervised. I do this each evening until I see a successful mating. Usually, this happens within a week of introductions. Once I see a successful breeding, I leave them together for about 4 days. Benefits- much smaller window of when the female is going to be due. Drawback? It can be a real hassle to keep shuffling cages and hedgehogs every night.

    For first time males, or ones who tend to be shy, I put the pair together and leave them for about 2 weeks. I do keep a close eye on them for any fights when I do this. Benefits- helps shy or inexperienced males figure out what the whole process is about. Drawbacks- 2 weeks of breeding ends up with you having about 5 weeks of potential due window, which can be really irritating.

    When possible, these introductions should be done in a clean neutral territory cage with only basic furnishings. The more things there are to hide behind, run around, climb over, etc, the harder it is going to be for the pair to get together. However, I have not seen a problem with introducing the pair in either the male or the female's home cage.

    Be sure you mark the possible breeding dates VERY clearly on a calendar, both beginning breeding and end breeding, so you know exactly when to expect them to deliver.