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Old 11-08-2012, 09:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Educate Me!

I want to eventually get into breeding, and I want to take all the proper routes. I have some questions! Before you think I sound stupid...we all start somewhere! Please be patient with me. I'm a very fast learner!

1. I have pet hedgies right now. If I wanted to be licensed, and wanted to get a breeding pair to start with, how do I know if they're related or not?

That leads to...

2. I read the code of ethics and it says to not breed closely related...is there a degree of separation to follow? Why wouldn't one just strictly breed unrelated hedgehogs? Is the pedigree that narrow for all hedgies?

3. If I wanted to get setup for it, where do I find environmental requirements?

4. Are breeding bins required? I haven't ever liked them...even when I did snakes. Why not a ton of tanks or cages where they can see out??

5. How does the licensing process go? Does someone come to your house for an inspection and you fill out paperwork or what?
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Educate Me!

I can answer a couple of the questions anyway, and I'm sure one of the breeders will be along soon. I'm glad you're taking the time to learn the correct way to go about breeding and asking questions before you get started in it.

1. You'll want to check with other reputable, responsible breeders to get breeding quality hedgehogs from them. You'll be able to tell relation and health background by getting the pedigree of the hedgehog - the relationships will show right in the pedigree, if any names match, and if you look up the names in their family history (I'm not sure on what website), it'll tell you the cause of death, so you can check for WHS. Those two things (relation and WHS) are two extremely important reason to make sure any hedgehogs that are bred have pedigrees, clean histories, and come from a good breeder. If you get a mentor before you get into breeding, your mentor can vouch for you to other breeders (with so many backyard breeders, reputable breeders can be hesitant to sell breeding pairs to anyone they're not sure of), and can help you research other breeders and recommend someone to check out for a breeding pair. It's really recommended to have a mentor in general - they can also help you with answering questions, giving middle-of-the-night advice when there's no one on the forums, and so on.

2. I know the biggest thing, obviously, is not breeding brother/sister, daughter/father, etc. I'm not sure past that what's considered acceptable or dangerous, such as cousins, etc.

3. Not sure on this one either, sorry.

4. As far as I know, they're not required. I know a few breeders that use much different cages for their hedgehogs than breeding bins.

5. To get USDA licensed (which you're required to be in order to have more than 3 breeding females), yes, I've seen mentions of an inspection, with numerous rules and regulations that need to be followed in order to have it go well. If you find a mentor, I'm sure they'll be able to help you out with that kind of thing, and the breeders on here will probably know more as well.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Educate Me!

Thank you for your reply! I'm looking into the Hedgehog Registry as we speak! I'm hoping to find a breeder who can walk me through the process and their experiences, even if I decide that it's not for me.

I see your signature and was curious...do you have a Hedgie at present time?
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't, unfortunately...I lost Lily this past January, and I don't really have the finances to afford a hedgehog right now. My dad also doesn't want me to get anymore animals while I'm living at home, so...It'll likely be awhile before I can get another, as much as I hate that. I'm dying to be a rescue home for some needy hedgehogs. ><
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Educate Me!

Awwwh! I'm sorry!

When I moved out, I went a little nuts.

All I wanted was a rabbit. ONE rabbit. LOL.

At one time, I had 16 critters in my apartment.

Since I've been captured by Hedgies, I've cut it more than in half (some by rehoming, most died of old age and I didn't get more), in hopes of learning the proper means of breeding Hedgehogs.

We'll see.
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Old 11-08-2012, 03:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Educate Me!

Yeah, I'm going to have to exercise a LOT (seriously a LOT) of self control when I move out not to go adopt every animal off Craigslist. I'm hoping to start with at least a hedgehog, a snake, and maybe a bearded dragon, depending on finances and time and all that important stuff. But it will partly depend on what actually needs rehoming near me at the time. I'm pretty determined that all future pets will be rescues/rehomes only, and I have a soft spot for animals that tend to be misunderstood "fad pets" or have special needs or considerations that a lot of people might be iffy on - reptiles, birds, hedgehogs, ferrets, sugar gliders, etc.
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Old 11-08-2012, 03:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Educate Me!

Reptiles are actually my specialty.

I'm currently down to two Beardies and a Veiled Chameleon. I must admit that I bought the Chameleon, but I rescued/adopted the two Beardies.

I had two snakes, and decided it better to rehome them to someone more experienced than I (they, for some reason, started getting aggressive, despite my handling). If any animal ever leaves my care, I take down information and check in on them at least once a week at first.

I just rescued a Sphinx (hairless) cat from a Feline Rehab and Rescue organization. He is SO grateful. I've never seen an animal show so much gratitude! If I try to pull my hand away from petting him, he reaches up with his foot and grabs my hand!

Actually...I have a picture of it. LOL!
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Educate Me!

1. You get breeding quality hedgehogs from a reputable breeder. They'll come with pedigrees (4 or 5 generations is standard). I suggest having a pedigree software - personally I use PexEd by Breedmate, but there are one or two others out there, though from my understanding they have fewer capabilities. My method is to enter any pedigrees into the database that I can get hold of, so I essentially have a huge web of hedgehog relations that I can use for reference. Most of the time when I get a new pedigree, after I input the 4-5 generations into the system, I actually know their background going back 10-15 generations or more. Pedigree on its own isn't enough, you need to know what to look for. There's no website to look names up on, but you can contact the IHR and send the pedigrees to be inspected. They'll let you know if there's anything questionable or any names they recognize that you should avoid. You should also have them looked at by a breeder who knows what to look for, because the IHR only has information on registered hedgehogs, so it's best to use two sources to get the most complete opinion. I have, multiple times, seen WHS names in pedigrees. I was lucky with my mentor and the information she was able to give me, but most new breeders are not going to be able to recognize WHS names at a glance, so you need to have the peds looked at by someone who has experience with that.

2. The best method to tell how closely two hedgehogs are related is the inbreeding coefficient. Any pedigree software worth its price tag is going to be able to calculate that for you. This is part of why it's good to know more than 5 generations. The inbreeding coefficient is going to be a percentage. Anything over 6% is considered inbred, but most breeders aim for much lower than that. The lower the better, really. I keep a spreadsheet with males along one axis, females on the other, and all of their COI% kept track of there. Any pairings that will produce offspring over 3% I won't do, but the majority of pairings I choose fall under 1%. I would be willing, for instance, to do a pairing in the 2-3% range if I have a specific reason, such as being interested in a color outcome, and under 3% is distant enough that there won't be any problems from it. But, it's good to be in the habit of going as low as possible. Hedgehogs are no longer able to be imported from the wild, so what we have in North America is what we have - it's very difficult to find a pairing with absolutely no relation (although if you only know 5 gens going back, it might appear to be the case, when in fact they're really somewhere under 1%, but not a perfect 0%). For comparison, most purebred show-line dogs are around 10-12%. A pairing of father x daughter or full siblings is going to be about 25%. Daughter x grandfather is going to be around 12-13%. And so on.

3. When you decide to apply for a USDA license, you can send in a request for the application material. This will include a booklet that outlines all the information and requirements. For hedgehogs, it's fairly straight-forward. Things like proper ventilation, upkeep. Cages have to be clearly marked with the individual's information. Food containers have to be sealed and clearly marked. You have to keep track of paperwork, that sort of thing.

4. There aren't breeding bins the way that there are breeding container for snakes. Large sterilite bins are a cage type a lot of breeders use because they're the cheapest option for that amount of space, and they're very easy to transport and clean, and you can see into them easily, etc. Some other breeders use other cage types, it depends on personal preference. When the breeding actually takes place, sometimes the male or female is moved into the cage with the other, but it's better to put them both into a separate cage because that way neither of them feels like their space is being invaded. Most breeders then use the females cage as the one where the babies are birthed and raised. If they're not already using substrate bedding for all of their hedgehogs, the mother is put on substrate about a week before she's due, because it's better for nesting purposes and for reducing odor (since you can't clean the cage until the babies are weaned). I usually use liners and bags, so when the females are put on substrate, I switch those out for a nest box. Some people use igloos for the nesting area. The details are personal preference.

5. 1. Request application materials. 2. Make sure everything is within the guidelines (touched on in #3). 3. Make an appointment for a vet to come do a home inspection. They have to go over some things with you and mark them off on a list, then fill out some paperwork. 4. You keep the vet paperwork with you and send in the rest of the application. There's a small application fee. 5. A USDA inspection agent contacts you to make an appointment for the first inspection. 6. Inspection happens. You get approved. 7. They email you a piece of paperwork saying you've been approved. You confirm that it's been received. 8. You get a confirmation in the mail, including instructions for paying the appropriate license fee. You send the license fee. 9. When the license fee is received and processed, they send you the approval materials, including a certificate stating your license number. 10. You then have (roughly) annual, surprise inspections.
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Old 11-09-2012, 12:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Educate Me!

Do breeders typically have their own buildings for Hedgies, then? It doesn't seem like they would approve of breeding out of the home. Or do they?

Right now my Hedgies are in 40 gallon glass tanks with screen tops. I love this because it gives each a lot of space with lots of room for running and playing and toys. Plus... I get to see! Is tuere anything wrong with this setup?


The software... I'm getting overwhelmed lol. I don't know Excel. Where do you get the Pedigree software?

The computer thing may have just put a stop to this for me. And I consider myself pretty tech savvy!


How long does the process generally take? How much is the software?
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Old 11-09-2012, 12:32 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Oh wow! I found the software and it's much cheaper than I expected!!
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