Breeding on natural substrates

Let’s be real here for a moment. A good breeder always wants best for their herd of hedgehogs and always wants to improve, right? So what’s more awesome than being able to breed on natural or bio active substrate?! A lot of you are anxiously waiting for a guide on breeding that is related to breeding on bio active. So let’s start with the basics of breeding first and if you’re ready with that page, come back here to read the rest. You can find the basic guide on breeding here.

Breeding on bio active isn’t too much different from regular breeding, but there are a few important things you will need to know before you try it. Just to add up to the regular breeding guide. Have you read it? Great, then let’s begin!

Mating hedgehogs

Always mate the hedgehog on neutral terrain or in the males enclosure. Certainly in bio active or natural vivs, this is important because the female will have to al with hormones and mating in her enclosure will cause extra stress as the smell of the male will stay longer in her enclosure then when you have a normal substrate. Extra stress can cause a range of issues in breeding from anious behaviour to miscarriage.

Getting the enclosure ready

After mating, you will need to prepare the female enclosure. Some of you use seperat litter enclosures and some will use the female’s own enclosure, but nevertheless it needs preperation. Remember we talked about topping up your substrate with leaves, tree bark pieces and all that? We need you to top it up some more. Half up to three quarters of that ayer of substrate will be used by the female to build her nest. You’ll see after mating when the pregnancy hormones kick in, that she will anxiously drag around leaves, branches, bark pieces and everything she can find to build a solid nest to deliver her babies in and nurse them out of sight from predatory animals. This instinct is still very much on the surface despite them being somewhat domesticated throughout the years. But aside from her own behaviour, nest building in bio active and natural enclosures is a matter of life and death. Without at least a solid flooring of the nest made from leaves and bark pieces, the newborn hoglets will lay right on top of the soil. The soil will stick to their skin, causing shaving burns and making it unable to move around and drink from their mother. Unfortunately, that’s a mistake we made ourselves and we’ve lost our first litter on bio active this way. After we’ve made sure the mothers had plenty of litter to build a nest with, we’ve never lost a litter again to this issue. Small remark: We were the first to do this and have had no information to go off of. For us, it was trial and error process you can now learn from.

Born & raised

Once the hoglets are born, if the mother has made a good nest you won’t be able to peak in as easily. If you’ve used a house for the mother to build a nest in and you can remove it, you might be able to take a quick peak in. We’ve noticed our mothers are even more relaxed than they were before when having litters and they didn’t mind us peaking in at all (not for too long though). Once the hoglets are old enough to move around the enclosure you’ll notive how steady they grow compared to a litter that doesn’t grow up on bio active. This might be because their instincts are highly triggered and they learn to hunt down their insects from a very early age on, making sure they exercise plenty already on a young age despite having no access to a running wheel. Prepare your mind that they might not make it the usual wieght you let them move out on, because of this very trait. They really grow up to be fit instead of held on weight, which really makes a bunch of difference when you have some more experience on bio active breeding or housing. Usually our hedgehogs would weigh between 180-240 on age of 8 weeks, whilst on bio active some would be just above 150 grams at the same age without being skinny. Just to remind you, weight is not the only indication to a hedgehog’s health. Hoglets brought up on bio active substrate usually keep a better weight throughout their lives, certainly if their new owner also keeps them on bio active substrate!


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