What Do Newborn Hedgehogs Look Like?

Most of the time I do not handle infant hedgehogs because it upsets the mothers and can cause the mother to hurt, kill, or abandon the babies. Sometimes mothers are already hurting or abandoning the babies and I have to touch them to remove them for their safety. When this happens, the first choice is to put them with a foster mother. If a foster mother is not available, then I try to hand feed.

When hedgehog babies are born, they have a sac and fluid around them. The quills have not emerged yet, at the time of birth. The mama licks each baby to remove the sac, then moves them into her nest. Once, I was watching the birth when a mama left a baby in the middle of the cage and went into her nest box with the other babies. The baby began to turn gray and I assumed it was stillborn. After a few minutes it seemed clear that mama was done and not coming back so I picked up the baby to remove it. It looked so sad and sweet, still in the sac, and I gave it a gentle pet. To my surprise, it seemed to gasp so I did it again and saw that it definitely still had signs of life! I gently petted the baby to get it breathing and that loosened the sac, When its color had come back, I carefully lifted the next box, counted the babies, and slipped baby in with its siblings. It was such an awesome experience, and even more wonderful that all of the babies survived!

The babies in the photograph on this page were abandoned by their mother, who was trying to hurt some of them, so they had to be removed. I took the opportunity to photograph them before moving them to the cage with their foster mother. You can tell by the tiny emerging spines that they are only and hour or two old.

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