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Old 01-07-2013, 08:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default First Hedgehog!

Hi! I'm so excited ! I'm a first time owner of hedgies, and I just couldn't be more excited!

Ok, down to business. I'm going on Saturday the 19th to meet my baby girl, and wanted to know what exactly you all think I should look for in a baby. I went today to visit a baby, but decided against him. He was sort of unsocial (didn't ball up, but kept his quills up most of the time and pulled it over his eyes). He also just didn't appear very well. His nose was really runny, like, actually dripping onto my hand runny, he had very sparse quills, his ears looked a bit dry and flaky, and he wasn't very active. I'd expect some cuddling behavior from an adult, but shouldn't babies be a little bit more up and about? He also wasn't water bottle trained yet, which kinda bugged me. The other breeders I've been in contact with have all already got their babies on water bottles.

These things aren't normal for a baby, right? I don't want to have misjudged. And when I go on the 19th, if she's quilling, do you guys have any suggestions on how to make her more comfortable/less grumpy? Are there any other things I should definitely keep my eyes out for?

Thanks!
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Lightbulb Re: First Hedgehog!

Its normal for a baby to be shy and have some quills up, its instinctual to protect themselves from big monsters (humans) I've had my boy for a little over a week and even though he is very laid back, he still brings his quills up constantly and isn't very active when I get him out.
I'd look for a baby that unballs fairly quickly and seems curious about his surroundings. I like to put my hand in front of them, see if they will come over to you and sniff at your fingers. Even the most friendly hedgie will be cautious around a stranger.
Not sure about the runny nose. Ducky has a wet nose but it doesn't drip. Dry skin isn't necessarily a indicator of anything being wrong but I would look close to see if the skin was just flaky or if its ragged.
You might want to consider using a water bowl instead of a bottle. Hedgies really do better with a bowl, reaching up to a bottle is a unnatural position and some can even damage their teeth by chewing on the tube.
If she is qilling, using a oatmeal rinse once a week or so will help keep her skin soothed and moisturized. If she is extra grumpy from quilling, try not to pet her back too much until the new quills have grown in. It can be painful and even a gentle touch can be uncomfortable.
The main thing to remember is that hedgies won't interact with you like puppy or kitten. They get used to us and learn to trust their owners but they won't "love" you like a dog will. They are shy gentle creatures and some will always be some what shy, patience is required.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Hedgehog!

I'm going to agree with GailC on hedgies being shy and having their quills up pretty regularly. Even my quasi-social Pippin puts her visor quills up when she first wakes up. I call it her grumple face.. I've had her for a little over three weeks now, and she is still a little shy, although her curiousity about her surroundings are starting to get the better of her. Hedgehogs are very shy critters by their very nature, and I really only would recommend them as a pet for a very patient person. Gaining a hedgehogs trust can sometimes take months, from everything I have heard. I was fortunate to be able to meet Pippin when she was 3 weeks old and had regular visits with her while I waited for her to be old enough to come home. Most people don't have a breeder living so close as I do, which in my opinion, is what has given me a head start on the bonding process with Pippin versus other Guardians.

As far as the flaky skin and not so many quills, the hedgie could have a combination of dry skin and be quilling all at the same time. Hedgehogs go through a process called quilling that I can only equate to human teething. They go through quilling several times over the course of a 6 month period. Imagine having those new quills growing out of your skin all over your body. If you have already been poked by a quill, you have some sense of what the hedgehog is feeling, and why they are grumpy while its going on. I wouldn't want to be touched either. Some hedgies quill longer or more often than others. I would look into the possiblity of mites, especially if the breeder is using shavings. Usually an oatmeal bath clears up dry skin.

Babies are not so active as you may think. In a lot of cases, they sleep as much as human babies or more as they grow into adolesence and adulthood. You have to remember these guys are growing so fast, and it takes a lot of energy to do that, so it makes you sleepy. I know I don't remember it, and I'm guessing a lot of other folks don't either, but as each of us entered into puberty we started sleeping and eating a lot more, and this was also the time that a pair of jeans might last us a month because we just out grew them. Same concept here. They are growing up, and burning energy faster than they can eat.

The runny drippy nose would definitely be cause for concern. Wet nose is good, runny nose, something is amiss, and should be checked out by a vet before he even is looked at for adoption, IMO.

Another point I agree with GailC is the water bottle. Hedgies don't have a neck like we do (yes they have a neck, just built differently), so we can tip a soda pop bottle back. You are asking a hedgehog to do the same with a water bottle. Its not a naturally occuring position a hedgehog would find itself in, and very awkward. They have been known to break teeth on the tube for chewing on it. I have really small cat dishes that I put Pippins food and water in. Pippins breeder tried the litter on a bottle and they all refused it, prefering the bowl.

I would ask to see the breeder's hedgehog room. Is it clean? Does it smell of amonia? How do the enclosures look? Do the hedgehogs appear to be healthy in general? What kind of food mix is he/she using? Is the breeder willing to show you how to bathe your hedgehog? Are all of the hedgehogs being handled daily? Do they have an open line of communication for new owners? Are they USDA Licensed? If so, have you checked out the reports from the USDA? (I lost the link but I know someone has it)What are their health guarentees? Ask about the lines making sure that WHS hasn't popped up in them. Do they have a return policy and what is it? It's not just about the animal itself, its also about the breeder and how much care is put into their breeding program.

Pippin is my first hedgehog, so I am not nearly as experienced as many others here, but I have found a wealth of information, and even a pet hedgehog mentor on these forums. (if you are reading this, you know who you are) I am glad you are asking some questions and really aware of what you are not familiar with already. You are getting ahead in the wonderful world of Hedgehog Guardianship by at least asking what questions you should be asking and what things to be looking for while visiting your chosen breeder. Good Luck
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Hedgehog!

You got some great info already, though I do have to disagree about the water bottle thing. Bowls and bottles both have pros and cons, and it really does come down to personal preference. Though I wouldn't consider a baby not being on a bottle a negative thing or a reason to not buy from a certain breeder. Bowls are generally preferred by more people, but in some cases bottles are a better option.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Hedgehog!

Sorry it took me so long to respond to this! I've been really busy

Anyway, thanks for all the info.! Its really good to know that they will be a little more sleepy. I understand what you're saying about the water bottle, and it makes perfect sense to me, but I believe that the hedgie I'm buying has already been trained on a water bottle, so I think I will stick with that, unless something changes.

I'm looking into getting some high quality, natural, moisturising baby shampoo, and was wondering if that would work for a case of dry skin? Also, a breeder told me I should get some sort of oil or cream, it was something like cocoa butter, coconut oil, something like that, for dry ears, but I can't remember exactly what it was! Any ideas?

The breeder is currently telling me that she can't really let me go into the room ( I may be able to peak through the door though) because she almost always has a new litter being born, and she doesn't want the mamas eating them. I think I may ask her to take a video camera or something and go through the room for me, so I can look at how she's caring for them.

Avarris, I may just have to copy and print out your list of breeder questions when I go next Sunday! Its really helpful

I'll watch to see if she unballs quickly, or balls up at all, and will do the finger test. That seems like a really good idea, BTW
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Hedgehog!

Just plain vaseline will work for dried/tattered ears. Something like Aveeno oatmeal body wash can help with mild/moderate dry skin, though if you're seeing big flakes of dandruff, Humilac, a topical spray, is my preferred remedy.

You should be able to peek in from the doorway even if there are new babies in the hedgehog room. We allow this, and did it just today in fact, with one newborn (~4 hours old) litter in there, and another female who could literally give birth any minute. Within the first week I don't allow anyone (other than myself and my fiance/breeding partner) in the hedgehog room, but the general layout and how things are set up is visible from the door, and we're always able to bring some of our hedgehogs out (other than the pregnant/nursing mamas) so people can meet our herd and see that they're happy, healthy, and well socialized.
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:30 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Hedgehog!

Getting a new pet is always nerve wracking. Get a new exotic pet for the first time is even more so. I don't mind if you print up the questions at all. Any breeder worth their salt won't mind being asked those kinds of questions. Sometimes having it all down on paper makes it easier to remember. Good luck Sunday! While I was making my breeder selection, willingness to answer questions, and also being a support person was a big thing for me. Since I had never owned a hedgie before Pippin, one of the things I was really unsure of was bathing a hedgehog. I'd seen a few videos online and while they are cute to look at, I never really got a good sense of it due to bad angles or just being amused by hedgie antics. Since it was something I was uncomfortable with, my breeder actually let me help give Pippin her first bath and nail trim the day I brought her home, so I felt more comfortable doing it myself as she needs it. Little things like that, that breeders do always makes me feel more confident in my choice of breeder, and their concern with who their babies are going home with. Yes breeding is a business, but its not all business. Screening potential Guardians and making sure they are comfortable with their new pet, and confidence in their abilities to care for their pet is also part of the job of being a good breeder.

I'm sure everything will turn out peachy keen. I can't wait to see pictures of your new addition!
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Hedgehog!

Ok, the breeder just emailed me and told me my baby is all ready for Sunday!!! Yay!! We were afraid we wouldn't get to go, because the other people who were before us hadn't picked up their babies yet. But now we get to go!

I printed out your page!! I'm gonna stick it in my hedgie pouch so I don't forget it when I go. I got some Pansy Flower baby shampoo. Here's the ingrediant list, tell me what you think Purified Water, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (coconut), Sodium Lauroamphoacetate (coconut), Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate (coconut), Citric Acid (citrus fruits), Viola Tricolor (pansy) Flower Extract, Panthenol (vitamin B5), Sunflower Oil*, Avena Sativa (oat) Extract*, Calendula Extract*, Simmondsia Chinensis (jojoba) Seed Oil*, Lonicera Caprifolium (honesuckle) Flower Extract*, Fragrance (contains essential oils from sandalwood, patchouly root plant, veviver plant. *CERTIFIED ORGANIC

I also wanted to know, is it ok to take my baby home in a snuggle sack? Thanks!
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