I just received a hedgehog. It was found by a friend’s dog. I learned on the internet that hedgehogs can have babies as early as May. I would like to keep this hedgehog, it is very sweet. On the other hand I do not want any baby hedgehogs to die. Is there any way to know if it is breastfeeding its young? I mean does a mother-hedgehog has swollen breasts, or any other sign that it might be nursing?
It would help to know if the hedgehog that was found is a European or African Pygmy Hedgehog. If you’re in the United States, there’s almost no chance your hedgehog could possibly have babies, since hedgehogs are not native to the US and there’s little chance she could have met another escaped pet and reproduced already. If you’re in Europe and this is a wild European hedgehog, it’s actually probably illegal to keep it as a pet, and it may well have babies. Same thing if you’re in Africa and it’s a wild African hedgehog, although it may be legal to keep it in some African countries.
Nursing hedgehogs may have a swollen or hairless area around their nipples, and the nipples themselves may be swollen or red depending upon the age of the babies and how much milk the mother is producing. However, there’s no reliable way to tell for sure if a hedgehog is currently nursing a litter– a good guess is as good as it gets. Your best choice is probably to see if there’s a hedgehog rescue or a vet with hedgehog experience near you and take the found hog in for an exam by someone who’s seen a few nursing hedgehogs and can make an educated guess.
If you determine that you’ve found a wild hedgehog native to your area, it’s best to release it or give it to a wildlife rescue group that can safely release it. Wild animals aren’t happy as pets, and removing animals of breeding age from a wild population can put the entire population at risk. If, on the other hand, you’re sure it’s an escaped pet, I see no reason not to keep it. Be sure to do some research on hedgehog care before deciding to absolutely commit to keeping this pet! If you find its needs are too complex for your household, consider seeking out a hedgehog rescue group and putting the found hog up for adoption.