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 colors!
Wondering where 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
or have called Hedgehog Valley
This page is dedicated to my first hedgehog, Nanny Ogg. Without her sunny disposition and determination, there would be no Hedgehog Valley.
The story of Nanny Ogg 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 my host mom told me, "Holger hast found ein Igel in der Schwimbad." I didn't know much German and she didn't know much English. She assured me it was not a bird in the pool (Igel is pronounced just like eagle) so I asked her if it was possible to show it to me.
There it was, a European hedgehog! By the size of it, it was an adolescent. My host mom had put it in an enclosure to observe and make sure it was safe to 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 animal I had ever seen! I immediately began collecting hedgehog stuff.
I am a Californian by birth and did not move out of state until I went to do my masters degree in Idaho. With hedgehogs being illegal in California, I had no idea that they had entered the pet trade. 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! It was all rolled up in a ball and huffling at me, but I was determined that as soon as I got settled in the south, I would share my home with a hedgehog.
Soon I was settled in Mississippi and started searching for information about hedgehogs. There was woefully little out there, with the Internet still being quite young. I found three personal pages and a mail list group with 42 people on it. I also found a booksthat I read over and over and over.
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. She went and got these stout leather gloves to take one out of the tank. I held out my hands and the clerk asked me if I was sure I wanted to do that. I told her I was sure. She asked me two more times and each time, I told her I was sure. Finally, sure I was sure, she lowered the hedgehog into my hands. The hedgehog walked right out on my arm, quills down, nose quivering with curiosity. Everyone in the store looked at me like I'd lost my mind. We left and the hedgehog, Nanny Ogg, rode home in my jacket sleeve!
Nanny Ogg was a free-ranging hedgehog to start with. I lived in a trailer so I went through with foam blocks and blocked off all the places I thought might be dangerous for her. That included places like behind the stove and fridge that might be hard to retrieve her from.
I put down a small litter pan in a corner near where I put her food and water. She did nearly all her business there, or under the recliner where I put newspaper. 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 I picked up a pair of sweats that seemed a little heavy. She was in the leg and had halfway balled up, but her four tiny legs were sticking out the end and waggling in the air! Another time I found her curled up in my cowboy boot.
Nanny Ogg was amazing in that she seemed to really be curious about people. If we had company over, she would come out to inspect shoes and maybe self-anoint or try to climb up their leg. She was a wonderful hedgehog ambassador, friendly with everyone!
After I 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 had talked with other breeders and learned from their experience. I found a vet with a some 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.
When Nanny Ogg had the babies I took one look at her and knew something was badly wrong. She was all tense and 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 for emergency treatment. 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 Ogg came home the next day and it was a long road to recovery. The incision was large and it took about two weeks for her to start moving around much. She did not have much of an appetite and would only drink buttermilk for about a week. Nanny Ogg 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 the 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.
Nanny eventually recovered and continued her happy life with me. After her experience with the C-section, several other hedgehogs came into our life and Nanny Ogg moved into a spacious cage. It never seemed to bother her.
Nanny Ogg had one bout of illness in the summer of 1997 where she suffered seizures late one night. I thought she was going to leave me 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 Ogg. She started to lose weight and slow down. She caught a rapid onset respiratory infection that took her from me in March of 1998. We did not have access to digital technology then, so I have no pictures. Nanny Ogg will always be that clear-eyed, bright, happy hedgie in my heart.
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