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anonymous asked:

what should I look for in a hedgehog breeder?

Hmm. It’s been a while since I’ve thought about this, so if anyone notices something big I missed, please add on! Also this mainly applies to breeders for North America - some things might be a little different in other countries, such as the pedigree thing, because hedgehogs are newer there, or because WHS isn’t present in their hedgehog populations. 

* Health guarantee - They should have a lifetime guarantee against genetic diseases, especially WHS (Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome). Typically you need a vet to confirm that a hedgehog has or died of a genetic disease in order to get a refund. In order to guarantee against WHS, their breeding stock should have clear pedigrees that go at least 5 generations back. WHS has been known to skip generations that far, so it’s very important in the US to be sure breeding hedgehogs come from clear bloodlines. They should also be able to guarantee that your baby will come home healthy & free of common health issues like mites, respiratory issues, etc. This is the most important & most basic thing a hedgehog breeder should provide - healthy animals.

* Temperament - Obviously health should be prioritized first when breeding any animal. Temperament should be the second consideration, especially with a defensive prey animal like hedgehogs. Every animal will be different, but breeders should be making sure their breeding females are friendly, sociable, and calm. Males as well, though they don’t spend any time with the babies to teach them behavior, so their main contribution is genetic. 

Somewhat closely related, I start getting a little hesitant when a breeder has a large number of animals, especially females. Many breeders will breed 2-3 girls at one time, to make sure they have foster moms available if needed. But they should always ensure they have enough time, space, and money to take care of all of the babies born at one time. They all need to be handled & socialized daily once they’re old enough to make sure they get familiar with handling & human scents and sounds. That can be rather difficult to do if they’re breeding many females at once or if they have a ton of adults to care for on top of socializing & caring for babies. This can vary by breeder though - some are doing this as their sole job, or don’t have many other responsibilities that need their time, some have assistants helping them with care & socializing, etc. 

* Pricing - This can vary quite a lot based on where you’re located, but usual prices for a baby tend to be between $100-300 (at least last I knew). If they’re much cheaper, I would question. If they’re much more expensive, I would question. IMO, pricing should NOT vary based on the color of the hedgehog! A good breeder will make sure people get matched up with a baby of a good temperament before worrying about color. Sometimes albino babies will be priced lower if people are reluctant to buy them. I’m still a bit hesitant on this, but it’s at least a little more understandable. Color should be the last thing considered after health & temperament though, both when breeding & when you are picking out a hedgehog to bring home.

* Visits - They should be willing to let you come for a visit, especially if you’ve never held a hedgehog before & want to be sure it’s an animal you’re interested in. Some people really get surprised by how sharp the quills are, so it’s a good idea to try handling one first. You’ll probably still need to make an appointment, and you should stick to it - breeders have lives too, and they can’t be blamed for not being available if you’re very late or miss your appointment. 

An additional note on visits - from my experience, it seems typical to let you handle some of the babies or adoptable hedgehogs if you don’t have one already reserved, so you can see different personalities and decide on one. But don’t be surprised if they won’t let you into their main hedgehog room. They often have nursing moms with babies, and strange smells & lots of commotion can risk the lives of those babies if mom gets too stressed out. 

* Education - A good breeder expects to provide education & accurate and up-to-date information to their clients! I do not think you should ONLY depend on information from your breeder. But they should be an important resource for you, and you should double check to make sure their info checks out against other sources. I tend to automatically distrust breeders that have little or no care information on their sites, or if their care info is outdated. At the very least, they should provide links to other resources for doing research.

* Availability - Again, this can kind of vary because breeders do have their own lives & some are quite busy. But they should be available for answering questions before & after you bring your hedgehog home. Wait time on answers shouldn’t be longer than a week, IMO, unless it’s a particularly busy time of year (holidays) or if they’ve given notice that they have something else going on in their life that may impact response time. It’s even more important that they keep in contact with customers if they do something extra, like providing a food mix. I’ve seen people who bought their food mixes from their breeder, then as they were running low, were completely unable to get a hold of the breeder to buy more or even get the names of the food brands (which is important to know regardless of this issue). For hedgehogs, which can go on a hunger strike with sudden food changes & become quite ill very quickly, this is dangerous!

* Supplies - Many breeders will sell supplies on their website. I tend to immediately distrust any that sell supplies that have been a known danger to hedgehogs, such as Wodent Wheels, Silent Spinners, or any wheels with cracks or openings on the running surface. Some people feel that they’re fine if they haven’t had an issue with the product yet - if they don’t keep up with the greater community enough to see the issues others have with those things, that’s a bit of an issue for me. Likewise, I dislike breeders that sell run-around balls, too-small cage set ups (particularly anything under 4 square feet, but honestly, people should be aiming for 6-8sq ft or bigger), water bottles, or crappy quality foods (including hedgehog foods). 

I know this may all seem a little picky, so I wanted to explain why I have so many criteria that I judge with. Especially in the US (and a few other countries), hedgehogs have become hugely popular & a definite animal fad. People see pictures & videos online, think they’re the cutest thing ever, and immediately want one. This means we’ve had a LOT of backyard breeders & just…not great breeders spring up. While there’s not a whole lot that can be done about this other than waiting for the fad to die down, it’s important not to support these breeders, especially if you really do care about hedgehogs & want to ensure that you’re getting as healthy & happy of an animal as you can. Some can be really sneaky about looking good on their website, but then not having great care conditions at home, or not socializing their animals as much as they should, & so on. So it’s important to check out each area to be sure you’re not getting scammed & bringing home a sick baby, or getting an entire set up that turns out to have dangerous parts or is half the size it should be.

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A dirt farmer wanted to buy a process dog for his sonny. There
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