Bringing your baby home
For the forseeable future, I will not be allowing in house visits. If the weather cooperates with us, we will meet outside on my deck to meet your baby, learn how to handle them, and go over any questions you may have. I have put together some information below, so if you would rather not go over things in person that is totally okay (no pressure, I understand social anxieties!).
*Please let me know if anyone in your household is ill so we can wear masks/do a quick pick up or reschedule!
You will need a carrier of some sort to transport them home. Ideally this would be a cat/animal carrier, but a tote or box with good ventilation would work as well. Pet carriers are the safer option in case of an accident - people notice pet carriers rather than boxes or loose animals. Loose animals in the car can be dangerous if they get loose underfoot, or caught in something.
You should have adequate heating in your vehicle in winter. Hedgehogs should not be kept directly in front of the heater as they can overheat, but do not let them get too cold.
Your cage should be set up and ready before picking up your baby, I will require a picture of your set up beforehand. Your baby will go home with a small piece of fleece so they have something with a familiar scent on it. Make sure to place this in your hedgehog's sleeping area with them. If you have a piece of fabric with your scent on it, you can also place this in their sleeping area to familiarize them with your scent.
You may find your hedgehog is more 'grumpy' than they were at my house. Try to understand that they are just scared of all the new things in their life, and have patience! It is important to keep socializing your hedgehog and getting them used to their new environment. You can expect your baby to be more active when handling them at night. Handling them in the daytime is fine, just don't force them to stay awake. It is best to have a snuggle sack or blanket they can cuddle up in when they get tired.
Have a bag of kitten kibble on hand for your baby to eat until they are at least 6 months old. I would suggest using one of the kibbles I use in my mix, Royal Canin Development Kitten or Purina One Kitten (this one will be easier to find and more cost effective).
Your baby will go home with a small bag of the food mixture I have them on, and only this should be used for the first week. You may feed insects, but hold off on any other new treats for at least a week, until they have settled in.
When changing to your food, add in a few of the new kibbles, gradually adding more over a period of at least 10 days. A slow change will help prevent upsetting their sensitive stomachs. Your hedgehog may be stubborn and pick out all the old food and leave the new, but keep trying.
It is also common for hedgehogs to go on hunger strike when changing households, especially adults. Make sure to monitor your hedgehogs intake after bringing them home.
Make sure to monitor your hedgehog's poop after bringing them home. Stress poop is dark green, mucoid in texture, and is not accompanied by a strong smell. This is a normal stress response and should resolve in a couple days.
You will find that your baby will poop... a lot! Babies have less control over their bowels and you can expect to get pooped on. Take it as a compliment that they are comfortable with you! If you'd like to minimize this, you can let them run around in a bathroom sink or tub when you first wake them up. If you are litter training them, this is a good time to place them in the litter box when you see them start to poop/pee. I promise they will get better control over themselves as they get older, and their wheels will be a lot easier to clean!
You can expect your baby to start quilling anytime after bringing them home. Quilling is when they lose old quills and grow in new ones. They start quilling after birth, with 6-14 weeks usually being the heaviest. They may quill heavily for a couple weeks, to months. During this time, they can seem grumpier than usual from the pain/discomfort they are in. Listen to your hedgehog, and don't force quill contact during this time (eg holding them on their backs). I like to get babies in their new homes as soon as possible, so they are settled in before quilling starts.
You can expect to see quite a few quills throughout their cage, but you should not see any bald patches on your hedgehog. Some adults will go through lighter quillings through their lives, while others only lose occasional quills (like we lose hair).
You can pick up your hedgehog by cupping your hands underneath them and lifting them up, making sure they can lift their heads. Coming at them from above is more likely to startle them - as a prey animal they are nervous about predators grabbing them. They are easy to startle and are more comfortable when they know what you're doing. You can use a blanket to hold them if their quills are sharp for your hands. When first starting out, I suggest using a blanket and trying with your bare hands over a couch or a chair, in case you get startled and drop them. They are generally more comfortable in lower light levels and at night, so this is a better time to start bonding. A minimum of 30 minutes of handling a day is recommended for keeping them socialized and used to you.
You can spend time with your hedgehog depending on what your hedgehog enjoys. If you have a hedgehog that likes to run around and explore, you can let them run around in a room while you sit on the floor, they will probably crawl on and around you. If you have a hedgehog who is more shy, you can leave them in a snuggle sack or in a blanket so they feel safe, and keep them on your lap or beside you. I like to take my hedgehogs out with me while I watch TV. Sometimes they prefer to stay in their bags beside me, and sometimes they like to walk around exploring.