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The Runt Phenomenon

Recently, we have noticed an interesting  phenomenon... a seemingly 
increasing number of runt hedgehogs. In our first year of breeding, 
we didn't see any. Then we saw them occasionally. In the past three 
months we have seen several in our own litters and also heard others 
report them more often than ever before. 
Among ours, some are smaller than their siblings at birth and remain 
somewhat smaller until final  adult size is achieved  (when they are 
often as  large or larger than their siblings). The ones that really 
concern us are those who start out the same size as  their  siblings 
and appear to  simply  "fail to  thrive." Of the  babies we have had 
like that, most  have  either  been in large litters, or  have  been 
fostered with  slightly older litters. That led us to  theorize that
perhaps they have been pushed out of the way and have  gotten enough
milk to survive, but not enough to thrive? To try to remedy this, we
have given supplemental feedings  when possible- though  some of the
little guys just annoint with it! Another thing I have noticed about
the lil guys in this group is that they seem to open their  eyes and 
get fur and teeth at the  same time as their siblings, but that they 
don't lose their baby quills and get adult quills until they finally
hit a growth spurt. We have had some who didn't survive, despite our
best efforts, but have also had others who eventually  thrived, such 
as  our Lady Sampoernella,  and a  little guy named  Squidge who now
lives with the wonderful Musgrove family in Texas!
Our  current  runt  has been  dubbed "Tiny Tim"  and he is quite the 
trooper! The  pictures  on  this page are of him. Tim and his sister 
Latte were rejected by their mother, and were  placed with different 
foster families. Tim's family had 5 babies and a mom I knew to be an 
excellent foster mom, and Latte's family  had just  two babies and a
mom I wasn't sure  about as  a foster  mom. Both  Tim and Latte were 
normal sized at birth. Latte  was a bit behind  her siblings in size 
and growth rate, but  not too  badly. Tim,  however, never seemed to
grow much. When he was about 4 weeks old I placed him with  a foster 
family of newborns, since he was the same size as they!  He weighed
24 grams! At almost 7 weeks old we gave him a  place of his own and 
have put him on Select Diet (a nutrient dense hedgehog food that is 
soft enough for him to chew) and  are providing  him with a shallow 
water dish and a shallow dish with a little formula in it. He seems 
to eat his weight in Select Diet, but so far hasn't gained any!  We 
keep rooting for him and hoping he will be ok!

Note added 12/28/99: Tiny Tim has grown up to be a normal sized
sweetie, who surprised us by becoming a very handsome chocolate white!
Using the same techniques we tried with Tim, we have been able to 
help several more severely runt babies survive and thrive. I've 
started referring to these hedgies as "DD" babies because they are not
only small in stature, they also exhibit several developmental delays.
For example, they do not begin the process of quilling, which marks 
the transition from adolescence to adulthood, until their size catches
up, and some do not grow hair until much later than would normally be
expected. Bravo to these tiny troopers, the spirit with which they
fight to survive against all odds is truly amazing!

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Tiny Tim has delighted visitors.


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