If you have come to this page never having dealt with baby or juvenile hedgehogs before, or having had failures before, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE contact a rescue with a track record of success. Don't try to look after them yourself without correct support.

Hedgehog Bottom

Babies and Juveniles

Hoglets should be fed with a milk substitute such as Esbilac which contains all the fats, vitamins and minerals they need. Under no circumstances should you give them cow's formula which will kill them. Goat's milk with Goat's colostrum may be used for a short period of time if nothing else is available.

Products such as Cimicat are acceptable for a short time with the very young hoglets but are not substantial enough to make the hoglets grow. We have found that Shirley's Lactol, Welpi, Canilac and most Kitten milks, as well as human baby formulas, are completely unsuccessful and will always advise you not to use them.

You will need:

  • a sterile syringe, 1ml, 5ml or 10ml - depending on the size of the feed required.
  • a short piece of rubber tubing such as a cannula, or a Catac teat ST1, also sterile.
  • a food warmer to keep the feed at body temperature
  • Milton Fluid or a steriliser to clean all the equipment between feeds
  • Fennel Tea - bags are easiest
baby hedgehog being syringe fed on its feet

The powder milk substitutes need to be mixed well so that everything dissolves and we use the Fennel Tea to make it up rather than water as we've found it helps with bloat issues. For some time now we have made up enough feed for a whole day the night before it's required, stored it in the fridge and remixed it the following morning. Don't use an electric whisk or blender as it adds too much air.

Refer to the list below for amounts and frequencies. Heat up only enough feed for one sitting and warm it to body temperature. Test it on the back of your wrist as you would for a baby. We use a bottle warmer with a dish in the top to keep the food at the right temperature throughout feeding but others use food warmers with tea lights.

Place the baby on a warm towel on your lap, on a heat mat, or wrap it in a warm cloth and hold it upright, different hoglets prefer different methods.

food visible in the stomach of a fed baby

NEVER feed the baby on its back as it may inhale the feed and drown.

Put the tip of the syringe, or rubber tube if it's a very young hoglet, under the lip and gently squeeze out a drop. Some hoglets will instantly attack the syringe and gobble the lot down, others take a while to get the idea. Feed slowly, do not be tempted to press the plunger hard. Once fed, it will be possible to see the feed in the stomach of the youngest babies if they have properly eaten and not dribbled it all out.

toilet on the feet

The youngest hoglets (pinkies) will need to be toiletted when they come in. If you haven't seen them passing urine or faeces by themselves then you MUST do it for them. A cotton bud dipped in almond oil then gently but quickly tickled around the genital area should do the trick but the tinies have paper thin skin and you can make them very sore. So. I've found another use for makeup remover pads. Fold one in half then, with the hoglet on its feet, gently tap on the urethra. The pad will soak up any urine preventing the hoglet from becoming sore.

  • NB. Weights given are a guide only. Once hoglets are a week old there can be a significant weight difference between litter mates and the more there are in a litter the lighter they are likely to be so weights are not given for anything from 1 week - 4 weeks.
  • Weigh the hoglets at the same time each day and make a note of it. This will act as a guide to growth.
  • In addition, weigh before each feed and again afterwards. For every 1ml of feed the hoglet has ingested, an increase of 1g weight should be noticed. Do not note these weights down or you will confuse or scare yourself silly. Use your daily weights to track progress.
  • Make sure the hoglets are kept very warm. If they are cold they will use most of their energy trying to keep warm and will not gain weight. Most rescues recommend around 35c for the first couple of weeks until they can maintain their own body temperature.

Hoglets should be fed up to 25% of their bodyweight daily split into multiple feeds

Do not overfeed. A distended tummy means bloat. Stop feeding immediately and give rehydration fluid instead

It is worth noting that all hoglets feed differently, DO NOT FORCE THEM TO DO THE SAME THINGS.

Tongue stuck © Herbie Hedehog Rescue

One action guaranteed to confuse is the hoglet with an enthusiastic and extremely strong suckle. Often these babies will appear to be in serious trouble as they stand motionless with their mouth wide open. DO not panic! The hoglet's tongue is suctioned to the roof of its mouth. Gently wiggle the syringe and break the suction then continue to feed.

NB. When hoglets first come in DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED THE FULL AMOUNTS mentioned below. They feed on demand with mum. We are forcing them to eat on our terms. They need time for their tummy to adjust.

Premature & Newborn
  • Completely pink
  • Approx weight 7-19 grams*
  • Spines are beneath an outer skin. If the babies are born with spines mum may well end up with stuck babies and need a vet IMMEDIATELY.

*Hoglets weighing under 12g may be premature. ALL hoglets will struggle if they have not had a first feed from mum.

If you have never dealt with these before we STRONGLY recommend you work with somebody who has. These babies are tiny and often highly compromised. The first couple of days are crucial and of you get it wrong nothing you do afterwards will save them. This is not a competition. Let experience help the babies.

Birth to three days old
  • At birth the hoglets are blind, deaf, pink, bald
  • Approx weight 15-25 grams*
  • At one hour, white spines start to push through the outer skin
  • At 36 hours a second coat of dark brown spines begin to emerge. The hoglet starts to jump if disturbed

Once you have established a regular feeding pattern, give 1-2 ml of milk substitute every 2 hours. DO NOT GIVE ANY MILK CONTAINING LACTOSE

Mum feeds round the clock for the first few days, never leaving the nest. At 3-4 days she will start to come out at night to feed and water herself.

Three days to one week
  • Hoglets are blind and deaf
  • Darker spines are starting to come through
  • Approx weight 25-30 grams
  • Do not leave more than 6 hours between feeds
  • Hoglets may jump if disturbed. Great care is needed not to drop them.

Feed 1-2ml of formula every 3 hours. The last feed should be around midnight to 2am

It is often a good idea, especially if this is he first time you have dealt with them, to sit on a low stool or on a carpeted floor so the hoglet has less of a distance to fall.

One to two weeks old
  • At one week - the hoglets are still blind and deaf.
  • They can be very vocal when hungry, frightened or disturbed
  • The white spines are still longer than the brown ones.
  • Whiskers start to emerge
  • At 11 days old hoglets start to curl

Feed 2-3ml of formula every 3 hours

Hoglets should be steadily gaining weight, if not, increase the frequency of the feeds to every 2 hours for a few days

Two to three weeks old
  • Two weeks - More second coat spines.
  • Fine hairs like stubble on snout
  • Eyes and ears begin to open
  • Third coat of larger and stronger spines start to emerge

Feed 3-5mls of formula every 3-4 hours
Hoglets should be steadily gaining weight, if not, increase the frequency of the feeds

Three weeks old
  • Few white spines left, almost replaced by third stage spines
  • First incisor teeth start to appear
  • Dense covering of short brown hair

Feed 5-6mls every 3-4 hours and leave a small, shallow dish of feed to encourage baby to lap

Four weeks old
  • No longer has the rounded puppy appearance to the snout
  • skin completely covered by fur
  • Should weigh between 84-130 grams

Start to give solid food as the new teeth should have erupted. It's often a good idea to wean the baby by intially liquidising some puppy meat and mixing it in with the formula

Five to six weeks old
  • Resemble miniature adults
  • Should be walking without wobbling
  • Fast forward, no brakes!

Phase out hand feeds and give small dish of formula and liquid food mixed together
Hills Prescription A/D or Royal Canin Recovery RS are ideal first food choices and are normally well accepted by hoglets
Six to eight weeks old
Give tinned puppy food
Make sure a very shallow dish of fresh water is available at all times
Shallow is very important as a hoglet can drown in very little
Eight weeks old
Give dog or cat food
Should now weigh 350 grams

Please be aware that hoglets are not straight forward to care for. Many things can go wrong along the way and even with the support of a good vet, it's extremely easy to lose the little ones.

No matter how much you believe you can raise them, I would beg you to seek expert advice. If you go to a good carer they will normally assess the hoglets and then agree a care regime with you. It does not automatically mean you will have to give the animals up. It may be they will be given straight back along with a care sheet, or possibly kept at the rescue for a few days and then returned to you if that's what you want.