Articles on basic care and considerations for new or prospective owners.
Articles pertaining to health, nutrition, and veterinary care.
Articles and pictures about hedgehog breeding, growth, and development.
Articles for people who already own a hedgehog or want to know more than just the basics.
Learn more about hedgehog shows and hedgehog colors!
Wondering where on earth to buy a hedgehog? Start here!
Where to purchase hedgehog supplies and collectibles.
Meet the hedgehogs of Hedgehog Valley!
Meet the other critters that call Hedgehog Valley
This page is dedicated to my first hedgehog, Nanny Ogg, for without her sunny disposition and determination, there would be no Hedgehog Valley.
Nanny's story really started a very long time ago. I was 15 years old and living in Germany as a summer exchange student in 1983. I came down to breakfast one morning and the mom told me, "Holger hast found ein Igel in der Schwimbad." I didn't know much German and she didn't know much English, and after she assured me it wasn't a bird in the pool (Igel is pronounced just like eagle), I asked her if it was possible to show it to me...
There it was, a European hedgehog. By it's size, I guess now that it was an adolescent. Ingrid had put it in an enclosure to observe for a bit, to make sure it was ok to safely release back into the garden. I had seen LOTS of interesting critters, growing up with parents who worked at a vet school, but I thought this had to be the most wonderful, amazing critter I had ever seen! I immediately began collecting hedgehog stuff.
I am a Californian by birth and didn't move out of state until I went to do my masters degree in Idaho. With hedgies illegal in CA, I had no idea that they had entered the pet trade until right before I was getting ready to graduate and transfer to Mississippi for my doctoral program. I saw an African Pygmy hedgehog sitting in a pet store, all rolled up in a ball and huffling away at me, but I was determined that as soon as I got settled in the south, I would have a hedgehog in my family.
About a month later I got settled in MS and started searching for information about hedgies. There was woefully little out there, but I did find a couple of books that I read over and over and over.
Finally, I went into a reptile store in Memphis on one happy day in 1995 and they had 5 hedgehogs in a tank marked $24.99. I immediately knew that one was to be mine- even a grad student could afford that! I asked the clerk if I could hold one, and she went and got these stout leather gloves to take one out. I held out my hands and she walked right out on my arm, quills down, nose a-quivering. Everyone in the store looked at me like I'd lost my mind. We left and she rode home in my jacket sleeve (no, I wasn't driving!).
Nanny Ogg was a free-ranging hedgie to start with. We lived in a trailer, and I went through with foam blocks and blocked off all the places I thought might be dangerous for her, like behind the stove and fridge. I put down a small litter pan in a corner near where I put her food and water, and found that she did nearly all her business there and under our recliner (where I put down newspaper once I figured that out). When I wanted to find Nanny, she would nearly always be sleeping in the laundry pile or in a duffel bag in the closet. Once I went to find her and I picked up a pair of sweats that seemed a little heavy. She was in the leg and had halfway balled up, but 4 little legs were sticking out the end and waggling in the air! Another time I found her curled up in my cowboy boot. Nanny was amazing in that she seemed to really be curious about people. If we had company over, she'd come out to inspect everyone's shoes and maybe anoint, or try to climb up their leg. She was a wonderful hedgie ambassador, friendly with nearly everyone!
After I'd had Nanny for a year, I decided it was time to try to breed her. She was wonderful, and I had learned so much about her. I found a vet with a little hedgehog experience in Memphis, and I found someone with a male who was willing to give her a date. She had the date, and she did become pregnant. However, when she had the babies, I took one look at her and knew something was bad wrong. She was all tense and just seemed to be in pain. There was one live baby, one dead baby, and one baby that was like a half a baby with smooth flesh over the front end, instead of a normal forelimbs and head.
I called the vet and we rushed Nanny the 70 miles there immediately. X-rays confirmed that there was a partially absorbed fetus in each horn of her uterus. The vet took her in for an emergency C-section and I did my best to start taking care of her baby. Nanny came home the next day and it was a long road to recovery for her. The incision was large, and it took her about 2 weeks to really start moving around much. She didn't have much of an appetite and would only drink buttermilk for me for about a week. She was prescribed Baytril as an antibiotic, but the jar fell over and it leaked out on the way home. Nobody seemed to have Baytril locally, so the vet called it in to the human pharmacy and Cipro was substituted. I remember the pharmacy tech marveling that he was providing meds for a hedgehog, and that he told me, "Don't be surprised if she doesn't like the flavor- I tried it and it was nasty." Nanny took it like a trooper, though.
I hand fed Nanny's baby for five days. She was a beautiful little girl and I named her Flame, for the spark of life within her. She seemed to be doing well and ate hungrily, but on the fifth day she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I buried her in my yard beneath an orange flame rose bush, that flowered heavily every year we were there after that.
Nanny eventually recovered and continued her happy life with me. After her experience with the C-section, several other hedgies came into our life and she moved into a cage. It never seemed to bother her. She had one bout of illness in the summer of '97 where she suffered seizures late one night. I thought she was going to leave me then, and I fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning with her on my chest. When I awoke, she was sleeping near me on the bed as though nothing had happened. The vet couldn't find anything wrong, either. The next winter was hard on Nanny, though. She started to lose weight and finally caught a rapid onset respiratory infection that took her from me in March '98. The photographs of Nanny that appear on this page were taken during the time that Nanny was ill, at the end of her life. We did not have good digital technology then, so the pictures are not as clear as I would prefer, but Nanny Ogg will always be that clear-eyed, bright, happy hedgie in my heart.
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