Hedgehogs are relatively easy to breed, but many places do require you to have a license. Females can be bred between the age of 6 months and 3 years old, while males can reproduce when they reach four to five months of age.
Are you considering becoming a hedgehog breeder? Or do you have a pregnant hedgehog?
Before dealing with hedgehog reproduction, it’s important to learn about hedgehog breeding and reproduction basics.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the most important things you need to know, such as the ideal age for breeding, licensing, and what to expect after birth.
Breeding Hedgehogs: How It’s Done
When breeding hedgehogs, the first thing you need to do is find a compatible couple of a male and a female. Compatibility is important as incompatible hedgehogs fight, which can lead to injury or even death.
The first step of hedgehog breeding is acquiring the hedgehogs. They should be compatible and friendly tempered.
Hedgehogs are solitary animals by nature, which is why compatibility is so important.
Once you’ve found a compatible pair, the next step is to set up a breeding cage. It should be large enough to allow the hedgehogs plenty of space to move around.
It should also have a hiding spot for the female, as she will need a place to retreat to if she feels overwhelmed or stressed. The cage should also be equipped with a water bottle and food dish.
When you’re ready to begin the breeding process, you will need to introduce the male and female hedgehogs to each other.
The best way to do this is to put them in the cage together and let them get used to each other’s scent. Once they are comfortable with each other, you can place them in a nesting box for mating.
Breeding Hedgehogs Step by Step:
- Find a compatible couple of male and female hedgehogs.
- Secure a breeding cage.
- Set up bedding, hiding spots, water bottles, and food bowls in the breeding cage.
- Place the hedgehogs in the cage to introduce them to each other.
- Let them sit in the nesting box for mating.
How Often Can You Breed Female Hedgehogs?
Female hedgehogs should be bred a maximum of three times per year. They should have four months between litters to rest, avoid health complications, and raise their hoglets.
If female hedgehogs are bred too often, they won’t get the nutrients they need. Females lose nutrients when feeding their young.
Ideal Hedgehog Age for Breeding
The ideal age for female hedgehogs to be bred is between six and twelve months for the first time. They go into menopause around 2.5 to 3 years old, and should not be bred after this.
Female hedgehogs reach sexual maturity, which is why six months is the minimum age. After twelve months, if they haven’t mated yet, their pelvic bones can start fusing together.
Males of any age mate, as long as they’ve reached sexual maturity. They reach this stage when they are around four to five months old.
Hedgehog Temperament & Breeding
Friendly hedgehogs are best for breeding. This applies to both males and females. Friendly hedgehogs are easier to handle and less likely to hurt each other.
You Need a License
Many states in the US require you to have a breeding license to breed hedgehogs, as stated by the USDA. If you’re unsure about the rules in your state or country, you can read more about them here.
Are Hedgehogs Easy to Breed?
Yes, hedgehogs are generally easy to breed, but complications do happen. For one, female hedgehogs can end up eating their babies. They can also experience health issues related to the pregnancy.
Seek out experienced help if you’re unsure what to do about pregnant hedgehogs.
How Often Do Hedgehogs Mate?
Hedgehogs typically mate once a year, but it is not uncommon for them to mate more often if the conditions are right. If the weather is warm and there is an abundance of food available, hedgehogs can mate multiple times a year.
How Many Babies Do Hedgehogs Have?
Hedgehogs typically give birth to litters of four to five babies. They can have litters of up to twelve hoglets. If you are planning on breeding hedgehogs, it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of a large litter.
Baby hedgehogs are born blind and deaf. They are also covered in soft, downy fur without their characteristic spikes. These grow out later.
At birth, baby hedgehogs weigh about an ounce. They grow quickly and wean from their mother’s milk at around six weeks old. Once they are weaned, they begin to eat solid food.
Hedgehogs reach full size at around 6-12 months old. At this point, they are ready to mate and produce their own litters of offspring.
Hedgehog Gestation Period
Hedgehogs have a gestation period of 35 to 45 days. This is the time between when the female becomes pregnant and when she gives birth to her young. During this time, the female builds a nest for her young. She also starts producing milk.
After giving birth, the female hedgehog cares for her young for 4 to 6 weeks.
Once they are old enough to fend for themselves, the young will leave their mother’s side and start to live on their own.
When Do Hedgehogs Mate in the Wild?
Hedgehogs mate during the late summer and early fall. Female hedgehogs are able to mate when they are about six months old, while males can mate when they are about four to five months old.
Hedgehogs are solitary animals, so they don’t need to live around other hedgehogs in order to mate. They find each other when it’s that time of year.
Most hedgehogs will only come together to mate and then go their separate ways. However, if you have two hedgehogs that get along well together, they may choose to live in the same area.
How to Tell if a Hedgehog Is Pregnant
There are five signs to look for to determine if your hedgehog is pregnant:
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Nesting behavior
- Enlarged nipples
- Behavioral changes
If you notice any of these signs, it is likely that your hedgehog is pregnant. If you are unsure, you can always take her to the vet for a confirmatory ultrasound.
1. Increased Appetite
One of the first signs of pregnancy in hedgehogs is an increased appetite. If your hedgehog suddenly starts eating more than usual, it is a good indication that she is pregnant.
This is because her developing babies need extra nutrition.
2. Weight Gain
Another sign of pregnancy is weight gain. If your hedgehog starts to put on a few extra grams, it is likely that she is pregnant. This is because her body is preparing for the birth of her hoglets.
3. Nesting Behavior
As the pregnancy progresses, you may notice your hedgehog starting to build a nest. She does this by gathering leaves, grass, and other materials to create a comfortable place for her to give birth.
This is a sure sign that she is getting ready to have her babies.
4. Enlarged Nipples
One of the most obvious signs of pregnancy is enlarged nipples. This happens as her body is preparing to produce milk for her hoglets.
5. Behavioral Changes
Pregnant hedgehogs exhibit some behavioral changes. They become more reclusive and less active. This is because they are preparing for the birth of their hoglets and want to make sure they are safe and comfortable.
Do Hedgehogs Mate for Life?
No, hedgehogs are not known to mate for life. In the wild, hedgehogs are solitary animals, only coming together to mate. They usually only spend a short amount of time together before going their separate ways.
While hedgehogs tend to keep to themselves, there are some instances where they stay together for longer periods of time.
This is usually the case when the pair has young to care for. Once the young are old enough to fend for themselves, the parents will usually part ways.
It is not uncommon for hedgehogs to mate with multiple partners over the course of their lifetime. This ensures that they have the best chance of producing healthy offspring.
How Do Hedgehogs Select Their Mate?
When it comes to selecting a mate, hedgehogs are not picky. Both male and female hedgehogs will usually mate with any willing partner. But, there are some instances where they are picky about mates, for example, if a female hedgehog is pregnant or has recently given birth, she is more selective about her mate.
Hedgehog Mating Ritual
Once a pair of hedgehogs have decided to mate, they will spend some time grooming each other. This is the beginning of their mating ritual.
This helps strengthen the bond between them and ensures that both partners are clean and free of any parasites.
After grooming, the male hedgehog will start to chase the female. While this looks like a playful game, it is the male’s way of trying to get the female to submit to him.
If the female does not want to mate, she will try to escape from the male. If she is willing, she will allow him to catch her.
During mating itself, the female will lay down flat, allowing the male to surpass her spines.
You can watch the mating ritual here.
Once the female is pregnant, she starts to build a nest. This is usually a simple structure made out of leaves and twigs. Once the nest is complete, the female will give birth to her young.
Do Female Hedgehogs Take Care of Their Young?
After giving birth, the female hedgehog stays with her young for a few weeks. During this time, she teaches them how to forage and groom themselves. After six weeks, the young can fend for themselves and leave the nest.
It is not uncommon for female hedgehogs to take care of their young for longer periods of time. This is usually the case when the young are born early or if there are a lot of them.
In these instances, the female hedgehog stays with her young until they are old enough to be on their own.
Most hedgehogs are ready to leave the nest when they are between six and eight weeks old.
Do Male Hedgehogs Raise Their Babies?
Male hedgehogs do not play a role in raising their young. After the female has given birth, she is the one to care for the offspring. The male will leave the area and will not return until it is time to mate again. There are some instances where the male may help to care for his young, but this is rare.
It is not uncommon for hedgehogs to have multiple litters over the course of their lifetime.
But, every time it happens, the male leaves the female after reproduction. The female is left with the litter of hoglets, and the male will look for a new mate, or return to the same mate later in the year.
Male hedgehogs, as with many animals, have no relation to their offspring after mating.
Breeding hedgehogs is relatively easy, compared to many other animals. Female hedgehogs can have three litters a year, as they need approximately four months to raise their young and rest in between.
Female hedgehogs give birth to four to five hoglets per litter, on average, and raise these themselves. You should not care for the young, as this will disturb the mother.
What Are Baby Hedgehogs Called?
Baby hedgehogs are called hoglets. Once they reach adulthood, they are simply referred to as hedgehogs.
What is the Difference Between a Male and Female Hedgehog?
The biggest difference between male and female hedgehogs is their size. Male hedgehogs are typically larger than females. They also have larger quills, which they use to defend themselves from predators. Females usually have smaller litters of young than males.