What Kind of Milk Do You Give Baby Hedgehogs: [A Guide to Feeding Your Pet Hedgehog]

What Kind of Milk Do You Give Baby Hedgehogs

So, you have a baby hedgehog. Whether you are a breeder, an owner, or simply found an abandoned hoglet in your backyard, you are probably wondering how to feed it.

The good news is that baby hedgehogs are not picky eaters. So, ensuring their belly is full is not a problem, but what kind of nutrition they need can be confusing.

Like other mammals, baby hedgehogs grow up drinking their mother’s milk. Since you don’t have access to that, you can opt for a substitute, such as goat’s milk or a store-bought puppy milk replacer. One thing you need to remember is that milk is dangerous for baby and adult hedgehogs. While the former can be given this specific dairy for a short time, it’s best to keep it away from the latter.

Let’s take a look at the type of milk that is good for baby hedgehogs and why in detail:

What Kind of Milk Do Baby Hedgehogs Need?

Why Hedgehogs Need Milk

As newborns, baby hedgehogs, also known as hoglets, rely solely on their mother’s milk for sustenance.

This milk is rich in fat and protein, which is essential for their growth and development. Without this milk, hoglets can become dehydrated and malnourished, which can lead to serious health problems and even death.

What Type of Milk is Best for Baby Hedgehogs

If you are rearing an orphaned hoglet or a threatened nest, you will need to provide substitute milk.

The best type of milk for baby hedgehogs is a lactose-free milk substitute that is high in fat and protein.

You can find suitable milk substitutes at your local pet store or online. You can also consult with a veterinarian for recommendations.

Some suitable milk substitutes for baby hedgehogs include:

  • Powdered milk substitute
  • Nut milk
  • Wet cat food
  • Baby food
  • Dog food

When feeding baby hedgehogs, it is important to use a syringe or eyedropper to deliver the milk directly to their mouths.

Do not use a bottle, as this can cause the hoglet to choke or burn its mouth.

It is also important to feed baby hedgehogs frequently, as they have small stomachs and need to eat often.

A good rule of thumb is to feed them every two to three hours, or as recommended by your veterinarian.

In addition to milk, you can also offer baby hedgehogs small amounts of mealworms, fruits, vegetables, and hedgehog food as they get older and start to wean.

When feeding baby hedgehogs, it is important to maintain proper hygiene and avoid direct contact with them.

Use gloves when handling them and wash your hands thoroughly before and after feeding. Keep their nest clean and dry to prevent moisture and the risk of skin infections.

In summary, baby hedgehogs need a lactose-free milk substitute that is high in fat and protein.

Feed them frequently using a syringe or eyedropper and consult with a veterinarian for recommendations.

Offer them small amounts of other foods as they get older and maintain proper hygiene to prevent dehydration and health problems.

How to Feed a Baby Hedgehog

Feeding a baby hedgehog can be a delicate process that requires patience, care, and attention to detail.

In this section, we will cover the feeding schedule, feeding techniques, and feeding amounts for baby hedgehogs.

Feeding Schedule

Baby hedgehogs should be fed every two to three hours for the first three weeks of their lives. After three weeks, they can be fed every four to six hours.

A suggested routine is an early morning feed, a lunchtime feed, a late afternoon feed, and a bedtime feed.

Feeding Techniques

There are several feeding techniques that can be used to feed a baby hedgehog. One technique is to use a plastic syringe with a rubber nipple to feed the hoglet.

Another technique is to use a baby bottle with a nipple tip. It is important to warm the milk or formula to body temperature before feeding the baby hedgehog.

Feeding Amounts

The amount of milk or formula that a baby hedgehog needs depends on its weight and age. A general rule of thumb is to feed the hoglet 2-3 ml of milk or formula per 10 grams of body weight.

It is important not to overfeed the baby hedgehog as this can lead to dehydration and other health problems.

In addition to milk or formula, baby hedgehogs can also be fed solid food such as cat food, wet cat food, dog food, hedgehog food, mealworms, fruits, and vegetables.

It is important to introduce solid food slowly and gradually to avoid digestive problems.

Hygiene and Direct Contact

It is important to maintain good hygiene when feeding a baby hedgehog. Use a clean syringe or bottle for each feeding and clean the feeding area regularly.

Avoid direct contact with the baby hedgehog as this can lead to skin infections. Use gloves or wash your hands before and after handling the hoglet.

Heat and Nest

Baby hedgehogs need to be kept warm and cozy in a nest. Use a cardboard box with a soft fleece blanket or hide to create a warm and comfortable environment for the hoglet.

Use a microwavable heating pad or a heat lamp to maintain a temperature of around 85-90°F in the nest.

Veterinarian and Dehydration

If you notice any signs of dehydration or other health problems, take the baby hedgehog to a veterinarian immediately.

Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, sunken eyes, and lethargy. Use an eyedropper to give the hoglet water or nut milk if it is dehydrated.

Feeding a baby hedgehog can be a rewarding experience, but it requires patience, care, and attention to detail.

By following these feeding guidelines and maintaining good hygiene, you can help ensure that your baby hedgehog grows up healthy and strong.

What Foods to Avoid When Feeding Baby Hedgehogs

When it comes to feeding baby hedgehogs, it’s important to know what foods to avoid ensuring their health and safety.

As omnivores, hedgehogs can eat a variety of foods, but some can be harmful or even fatal. Here are some foods to avoid when feeding baby hedgehogs:

  • Berries: While some berries are safe for hedgehogs to eat, others can be toxic and cause digestive upset or even kill them. Avoid feeding baby hedgehogs any berries unless you are certain they are safe.
  • Beetles and Crickets: While hedgehogs love insects, not all are safe for them to eat. Some beetles and crickets can be toxic and cause digestive upset or even kill them. Avoid feeding baby hedgehogs any insects unless you are certain they are safe.
  • Dry Cat Food: While some hedgehog owners feed their pets dry cat food, it’s not ideal for baby hedgehogs. Dry cat food is high in fat and can lead to obesity and other health problems.
  • Lean Meats: While hedgehogs can eat lean meats like turkey, it’s important to avoid giving them any meats that are high in fat. Too much fat can cause digestive upset and lead to dehydration.
  • Watermelon, Papaya, and Kiwi: While these fruits are safe for hedgehogs to eat, they are high in calcium. Too much calcium can lead to health problems, so it’s important to give them in moderation.
  • Milk and Dairy Products: Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and cannot digest milk or dairy products. Consumption of milk and milk-based foods may lead to diarrhea.

In summary, when feeding baby hedgehogs, it’s important to avoid feeding them foods that can cause digestive upset, dehydration, or even kill them.

Stick to a balanced diet of lean meats, vegetables, and fruits in moderation to ensure their health and safety.

Feeding Newborn Hedgehogs

When it comes to feeding newborn hedgehogs, it’s important to know the right type of milk substitute to use and how to prepare it properly. Here’s what we recommend:

Types of Milk Substitutes

Hedgehog mothers’ milk has a body temperature, so it’s important to serve a milk substitute at 35°C/95°F.

Cow’s milk is not recommended for hedgehogs as it can give them diarrhea. Instead, we recommend using a commercial milk substitute specifically designed for baby hedgehogs, which can be bought from wildlife food suppliers.

Preparing the Milk

To prepare the milk, follow the instructions on the package carefully. Most milk substitutes will need to be mixed with warm water to reach the correct temperature.

We recommend using a digital thermometer to check the temperature before feeding.

Once the milk is prepared, you can use a syringe or a small bottle with a nipple to feed the baby hedgehog.

If using a syringe, make sure to use a small one (1-3 ml) and feed the hedgehog every two hours or on demand.

After three weeks, you can start feeding the hedgehog every four hours.

It’s important to clean the syringe or bottle thoroughly after each feeding to prevent any bacteria from growing.

You can use hot, soapy water or a bottle sterilizer to clean the equipment.

In summary, feeding newborn hedgehogs requires the right type of milk substitute and careful preparation.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that the baby hedgehog receives the nutrition it needs to grow and thrive.

Feeding Techniques

Feeding baby hedgehogs can be a delicate process, but with the right techniques, it can be done successfully. We recommend using either a syringe or an eyedropper to feed your baby hedgehog.

Using a Syringe

To use a syringe, fill it with the appropriate amount of milk, then gently place the tip of the syringe into the baby hedgehog’s mouth.

Slowly depress the plunger to release the milk into the hedgehog’s mouth. Be sure to only give small amounts at a time, and wait for the hedgehog to swallow before giving more.

Using an Eyedropper

An eyedropper can also be used to feed baby hedgehogs. Simply fill the dropper with the appropriate amount of milk, then hold the hedgehog gently and place the dropper near its mouth.

Allow the hedgehog to suckle the milk from the dropper. Again, be sure to only give small amounts at a time and wait for the hedgehog to swallow before giving more.

It’s important to note that baby hedgehogs have very small stomachs and can only consume a small amount of milk at a time.

Overfeeding can cause bloating and other health issues. It’s recommended to feed them every 2-3 hours, depending on their age and weight.

In summary, using either a syringe or an eyedropper can be an effective way to feed a baby hedgehog.

It’s important to be patient and gentle during the feeding process and to only give small amounts of milk at a time.

By following these techniques, you can ensure that your baby hedgehog is getting the nutrition it needs to grow and thrive.

Orphaned and Hand-Rearing Considerations

Determining if a Baby Hedgehog is Orphaned

When you come across a baby hedgehog, it’s important to determine whether it is orphaned or not.

A baby hedgehog is considered orphaned if it is found alone and without its mother for more than a few hours.

If you notice that the baby hedgehog is cold, weak, and unresponsive, it’s likely that it has been orphaned.

Seeking Professional Assistance

If you suspect that the baby hedgehog is orphaned, it’s best to seek professional assistance. You can contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center or a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals.

They can provide you with the necessary information and guidance on how to care for the baby hedgehog.

Hand-Rearing Challenges and Solutions

Hand-rearing a baby hedgehog can be challenging, but it is possible with the right knowledge and resources. Here are some challenges you may encounter and solutions to overcome them:

  • Feeding: Baby hedgehogs require a special formula that is high in protein and fat. You can use a commercial milk replacer that is specifically designed for hedgehogs or make your own formula. Mix together 1-part Esbilac puppy milk replacer, 1-part heavy cream, and 2 parts waters. Feed the baby hedgehog every 2-3 hours with a syringe or a nursing bottle.
  • Temperature: Baby hedgehogs need to be kept warm at all times. You can use a heating pad or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to provide warmth. The ideal temperature for a baby hedgehog is around 85-90°F.
  • Stimulation: Baby hedgehogs need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate after every feeding. You can use a warm, damp cloth or cotton ball to gently massage the genital area.
  • Socialization: Baby hedgehogs need socialization to develop properly. You can provide them with a soft, warm nest box and handle them gently for short periods of time every day.

In conclusion, if you come across a baby hedgehog that is orphaned, it’s important to seek professional assistance and hand-rear it with the right knowledge and resources.

With proper care and attention, you can help the baby hedgehog grow into a healthy adult.

A Baby Hedgehog’s Diet

We have established that a baby hedgehog grows up drinking its mother’s milk. When taking care of an abandoned hedgehog, how much you need to feed it depends on its weight and age.

Since you don’t have access to the hedgehog’s mother’s milk, you must be careful with feeding because milk replacements contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals.

This is where substitutes come in.

Remember: Not all milk types are created equal. Some are for specific animals. Cow’s milk is one you should never give a baby hedgehog, as it can cause severe digestive upset.

If you are giving the hoglet goat’s milk, it should be fresh or in powder form (Special formula for kittens and puppies).

We understand how difficult this makes taking care of a baby hedgehog. You will be glad to know that this isn’t something you will have to deal with forever.

Baby hedgehogs drink their mother’s milk for 3 to 4 weeks and then transition to insects (solid food).

This applies to hedgehogs in the wild. A pet hedgehog can be started on wet cat food or tinned dog food. Avoid seafood options.

Once the hedgehog is seven weeks old, you can introduce it to crushed-up dog or cat biscuits.

Nowadays, you can buy specialist hedgehog food that gives your pet the right nutrition. Let’s discuss what and how much you should feed your hedgehog based on their age and weight.

Esbilac

One of the most popular milk substitutes considered safe for baby hedgehogs is Esbilac by PetAg.

The company is known for providing pet owners with high-quality puppy mill replacers that help create a strong start for newborn animals.

Since Esbilac does not contain lactose, it is safe for pet consumption.

A significant amount of a hedgehog’s diet is made up of protein. So, their owners believe milk is a nutritious beverage.

After all, it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. So, why is it not suitable for baby hedgehogs?

A hoglet’s body does not produce lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose (sugar) in milk.

As a result, even consuming the smallest amount can lead to an upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, and general discomfort.

Due to this, they are unable to eat anything else and remain inactive. Eventually, lack of food pushes them to death.

A mother hedgehog’s milk does not contain lactase. Like human babies, they are fed for a specific period until they turn insectivorous.

If you are wondering what else you can give your baby hedgehog, the only safe answer is water. You can give adult hedgehogs a small amount of juice for an energy boost but occasionally.

Coming back to Esbilac, the following are some of the vitamins and minerals it contains:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic Acid
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Sodium

Feeding Time

A baby hedgehog must be fed at least four times daily – in the morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime. Having a routine allows the hedgehog to bond with you.

A baby hedgehog will not drink cold milk. Warm it up slightly and test it on your wrist to ensure it’s not too hot.

The feeding method is quite simple but requires patience. Use an eyedropper to give the hedgehog a small taste.

Once they become accustomed to the smell, place the dropper’s tip on their lips and let them suck. Your hedgehog’s tummy will start to grow and remove the dropper when you see its eyes closing.

We mentioned earlier that a baby hedgehog should be fed according to their age. At two weeks, your hedgehog should weigh between 30 and 85 grams.

You will have trouble feeding them at this age, so you will have to force at least 3 ml of milk down their tiny throat every four hours.

Give them four drops of Abidec (multi-vitamin) daily for healthy nutrition.

At four weeks, your hedgehog should weigh between 110 and 170 grams. Introduce them to different protein-rich foods but in small quantities.

Ensure the food is chewable because their lower teeth haven’t developed yet, and they will have difficulty breaking down the food so that it doesn’t get stuck in their esophagus.

At six weeks, your hedgehog should weigh between 200 and 206 grams. By now, your hedgehog will have developed a healthy appetite.

You can now fancy up their meals. For example, mashed potatoes with a dash of lactose-free goat milk.

At this stage, your hedgehog will start to act like an adult. They will stop drinking milk and spend most of their day sleeping.

Weaning

Baby hedgehogs need to be weaned off milk after three to four weeks. Weaning will be a challenging process. Just like human babies, they might not like starting on solid food.

Hedgehogs have a sweet tooth, but since sugar gives them diarrhea, you need to be selective with your options.

So, the right way to start is to conduct a small test. In a box, place solid food and keep it near your hedgehog. Your spiky friend will get curious and have a taste.

Some of the most common weaning foods are Farley’s rusk or digestive biscuits softened in goat’s milk.

You can also experiment with plants, such as chickweed, clover, dandelion, etc., mealworms, and canned puppy food.

Do not remove milk from their diet just yet. Have it on hand in case your hedgehog does not like the taste of solid food.

During feeding, keep an eye on hedgehogs to ensure food does not get stuck in their nose and cause breathing problems or an infection.

Baby Hedgehog’s Diet After Four Weeks

Insects are the primary food source for hedgehogs. The protein Chitin is found in an insect’s hard exoskeleton, which also provides fiber.

Insects are vital to a hedgehog’s diet as they fulfill essential nutrition needs. Following are some of the insects and food items hedgehogs like to eat:

Fruits

You can give fresh fruits as treats. Fruits, you can feed them include berries, melons, bananas, and apples. Avoid giving your hedgehog dried fruit.

Vegetables

Green beans, cooked squash, and fresh tomatoes are some of the top veggies that hedgehogs love eating. Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and carrots, should be avoided.

Mealworms

Frozen-dried and live mealworms are good options for hedgehogs. They mentally stimulate hedgehogs because mealworms are wiggly and hard to catch.

Waxworms

Compared to mealworms, waxworms have higher fat content and lower Chitin content. However, hedgehogs find waxworms yummier, and you can give them as occasional treats.

Crickets

Chitin in crickets develops slowly. However, this insect provides extra nutrition and mental stimulation, making it a great food option for hedgehogs.

Ensure that crickets nourish your hedgehog with gut-loading.

It is the process through which an insect is fed a good diet, so their nutrition passes to the animal that eats them.

Pinky Mice

One of the yummiest treats that hedgehogs love to have now and then is a newborn mouse.

You can give them a pre-killed mouse on special occasions, such as when they have tired themselves out after playing in the backyard.

Cat Kibble

If you give your hedgehog cat kibble, ensure it has less than 20% fat and at least 30% protein. This nutrient composition will satisfy a home-fed hedgehog’s nutrition needs.

Cooked Meat

Canned dog or cat food is low in calories and fat and high in protein, making it an excellent option for growing hedgehogs. You can also slowly introduce them to cooked chicken.

Cooked Eggs 

Eggs are very high in protein and a great alternative to milk. You can feed eggs to your hedgehog in any form: Hard-boiled, scrambled, etc.

Final Word

In conclusion, a baby hedgehog should only be given goat’s milk or Esbilac. Any other milk type contains high lactase, which can be dangerous for the hedgehog.

Start weaning your pet off the milk after four weeks and then introduce it to solid food. Once your hedgehog turns six weeks old, you can introduce them to the food items mentioned above.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As we learn how to take care of baby hedgehogs, certain questions come up again and again. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about what kind of milk to give baby hedgehogs:

What kind of milk should I give my baby hedgehog?

It is best to give your baby hedgehog a milk substitute that is specifically formulated for small mammals.

Cow’s milk is not recommended because it is too high in lactose and can cause digestive upset.

Goat’s milk is a good alternative because it is lower in lactose and easier for hedgehogs to digest. You can also use a commercially available milk substitute that is specifically made for small mammals.

How often should I feed my baby hedgehog?

Baby hedgehogs need to be fed frequently because they have small stomachs and cannot store a lot of food at once.

A suggested routine is an early morning feed, a lunchtime feed, a late afternoon feed, and a bedtime feed.

Typically, four meals a day is sufficient. However, it is important to monitor your hedgehog’s weight and adjust the feeding schedule as needed.

How do I prepare the milk substitute for my baby hedgehog?

The milk substitute should be prepared according to the instructions on the package. It is important to use water that has been boiled and then allowed to cool to room temperature.

The milk should be served at body temperature, which is around 35°C or 95°F.

You can use a baby bottle and a bottle warmer to heat the milk, or you can place the milk in a sealed container and sit it in boiling water for a minute.

What if my baby hedgehog doesn’t want to drink the milk?

Sometimes baby hedgehogs may be reluctant to drink the milk substitute. In this case, you can try stimulating their appetite by gently stroking their tummy with a warm, damp cloth.

You can also try offering a different type of milk substitute or warming the milk slightly to make it more appealing.

If your baby hedgehog still refuses to drink, it is important to seek advice from a veterinarian or experienced hedgehog breeder.

Can I give my baby hedgehog cow’s milk?

No, cow’s milk is not recommended for baby hedgehogs because it is too high in lactose and can cause digestive upset.

It is important to use a milk substitute that is specifically formulated for small mammals or goat’s milk as an alternative.

How long should I feed my baby hedgehog milk?

Baby hedgehogs should be fed milk substitutes until they are weaned, which is usually around four to six weeks old.

At this point, you can start introducing solid foods into their diet. It is important to monitor your hedgehog’s weight and adjust its diet as needed.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your baby hedgehog is getting the nutrition they need to grow and thrive.

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