It may come as a surprise to learn that hedgehogs are mammals that have been living in Southern Europe and Africa for millions of years.
Their diet mostly consists of insects but they have been known to eat plants and other animals if need be. Hedgehog pet are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and go to work at night.
Hedgehogs are recognizable by their quills, which are sharp hollow hairs that serve as a defensive barrier. When under attack, the hedgehog goes into a ball with his quills sticking out.
As well as being used for defense, the quills have a look and coloring that also serve as camouflage. The quills are usually brown with white tips, but you may also see grey, black, and even cream variants.
- Having a Hedgehogs Pet
- How long do hedgehogs live?
- Keeping Your Hedgehog Healthy
- Handling Your Hedgehog
- Grooming Your Hedgehog
- Caring for a Hedgehog’s Nails
- When do Hedgehogs Hibernate?
- What is hibernation?
- What should I do if my hedgehog run into hibernation?
- When do hedgehogs hibernate?
- When will my hedgehog wake up?
- Where do hedgehogs live and hibernate?
- Facts about hedgehog hibernate
- What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
- Food and Diet for Hedgehogs
- Food to Avoid in Feeding Hedgehog
- Facts About Baby Hedgehog
- Hedgehog Pregnancy
- Hedgehog Birth
- The Hedgehog and its Hoglets
- Steps in the Feeding Baby Hedgehog
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Having a Hedgehogs Pet
As far as pets go, it is the African pygmy hedgehog that is the most popular. These hedgehogs have a lifespan of around 4-6 years but can live to be as old as 10. This hedgehog breed grows to around 6-9 inches long, and is an animal that prefers to live alone.
While the African pygmy I small, he is active which means he needs a cage with some room to move around in. The good news here is that you can get a good cage at an affordable price. He should not stay locked up all the time, though, so be sure to let your hedgehog out to explore.
As mentioned earlier hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures, and are best suited as pets for people who are home in the evenings. These are cute little animals, but they are not good with kids, as they can become frightened when a little one gets a little too rough. Either the animal or the child can become injured by the quills in these situations.
Generally speaking, though, hedgehogs are docile animals that are easy to look after. They are clean, and don’t have much of a smell to them. The food that they eat is easy to find and affordable, making the hedgehog a fun, truly unique pet option.
How long do hedgehogs live?
There are more than 10 different species of hedgehog out there, and how long do hedgehogs live is dependent on that species. The smaller ones usually have a lifespan of around 2-4 years.
While the larger species may live as long as 7 years. Those numbers tend to be on the higher side when the animals are in captivity, mostly because they have regular access to food and don’t need to worry about predators. Here are some other quick hedgehog facts:
- Captive hedgehogs often live to the age of 10 years old.
- Foxes, badgers, and birds of prey will attack and eat hedgehogs on the wild.
- Slug pellets put out by farmers are also a problem for hedgehogs.
- In the UK, hedgehogs are often hit by cars as the animals try to cross the street.
- If hedgehogs become trapped in places where there is water, they may drown or starve since they are unable to climb up sheer sides.
- Garbage cans are another place where they often become trapped.
- People who set fire to their leaf piles may inadvertently kill hedgehogs, as the animals like to make home in those areas.
Keeping Your Hedgehog Healthy
The ideal diet for a hedgehog is one that is protein rich and mostly free from fat. Your local pet shop should have hedgehog food, but if they don’t, low-fat, dry cat food can work as an alternative.
Make sure that he has fresh, clean water at all times, and that crickets mealworms, cooked meat, and fruit and veggies are part of his diet. A cozy hiding spot should be part of his cage space, and the room he is kept in should be around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Handling Your Hedgehog
When picking up your hedgehog, do so by scooping him up from the belly. This will help you steer clear of the quills. When holding him in your hand, make sure that your other hand is protecting and supporting his back.
He may be nervous and roll up in a ball at first, at which time you should remain calm and patient. In his own time, he will uncurl and stat to sniff and explore.
While the quills may look sharp, you are unlikely to be hurt by them, so there is no need to wear gloves. Your hands should be bare, so that he can get your scent and become increasingly comfortable in your hand.
The personality of each hedgehog tends to be a little different. None of them will actively seek you out, but how they react to being handled is different in each individual case.
Grooming Your Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are naturally clean animals. Which means that all you really need to do is ensure that their cage is always clean and tidy.
There may be times when bedding or dirt gets stuck between his quills, at which point he will need a bath. Clean, dry towels should be on hand for when the bath is over. You can clean him in water (a couple of drops of cat shampoo are optional), using a toothbrush to get between the quills.
You only need about an inch or so of warm, not hot, water in the sink. Use the water to wet his back, and try to make sure that the water does not come in contact with his eyes, ears, or face.
When scrubbing with the toothbrush, move from front to back on his quills. You can use your hand to clean the fur on his belly. If you decide to drop some shampoo in the water, drain the sink and use clean water when rinsing him off, making sure he is out of the sink when you refill it.
When you are done with the bathing, place your hedgehog in a dry, clean towel and dry him off gently. He needs to be completely dry before going back into the cage. So have a second towel on hand, just in case the first one becomes too damp.
Caring for a Hedgehog’s Nails
One area that will need your attention are the toenails of your hedgehog. They can become very sharp, and need to be trimmed regularly.
You can use human nail clippers to trim your hedgehog’s toenails. Be as gentle as possible when grabbing his foot, and wait until he relaxes before you start clipping. It will become easier each time you do it.
Don’t take off too much of the nail. As doing so will cut into the quick and cause bleeding and discomfort. A styptic pencil is the best way to stop the bleeding if an accident happens, but flour or corn starch can also be used. This is something you will be doing regularly so you only need to trim a little piece of each toenail.
When do Hedgehogs Hibernate?
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals and this means that they have good hearing and an exceptional sense of smell. But usually have very poor eyesight. In case of fear or danger, a hedgehog will roll up to resemble a tight ball that is covered in spikes. Hedgehogs don’t run away when they sense danger and this is why they are always subject to risk on roads and near heavy machinery. Hedgehogs will live in a number of sites under woodland, farmland, in gardens and in hedgerows. They typically put on a lot of weight in autumn to prepare for the winter hibernation.
What is hibernation?
Hibernation occurs when the food becomes difficult to find usually when the temperature falls below 8C degrees. Hibernation means that the body temporarily shuts down, slowing down all the natural processes in order to reserve energy.
Males will usually start hibernation before females do. Hedgehogs will typically build hibernacula under a pile of leaves or under a shed. The heart beats drop from 90 to 20 bpm and their temperature drops from 35 to 10C. If you tickle their spines they will move a bit and this could be the only way to tell if they are still alive.
A sudden drop in temperature can also make the hedgehog go into hibernation mode. If you keep a hedgehog as a pet then you must have some way that will help you regulate the temperature. The room temperature must be kept at 73F and you can also use a heating pad on the sleeping area. The whole cage needs to be kept warm and this is Space or ceramic heat emitters are better at doing that but a thermostat should be used to avoid the room getting warm.
What should I do if my hedgehog run into hibernation?
You can have a light by your hedgehog’s cage because hedgehogs will need to get from 12 to 14 hours of light everyday and this is especially important in autumn months. Use hand warmers in case of an emergency, like a trip to the vet. But you must wrap them or cover them before using them against your hedgehog.
If your hedgehog attempts to hibernate:
You need to make sure that your hedgehog is warmed up gradually. You can put him under your clothing to let your body temperature warm it up or you can use a warmer or a heating pad set to low after covering it with a towel.
It is wrong to put your hedgehog in warm water. Because most hedgehogs don’t like water and this kind of warming might be too much for their bodies. If your hedgehog has tried to hibernate then proper attention should be paid to its cage to see if there is anything that needs to be changed. Hibernation attempts lower the effectiveness of the immune system and leave the hedgehog vulnerable to different diseases.
Hedgehogs don’t really sleep during hibernation but they lower their body temperatures to match their cold surroundings in order to save energy. This makes the body unable to perform the normal possible activities.
When do hedgehogs hibernate?
Between October and April, hedgehogs will probably move nests and some of them can be easily seen wondering around if the winter is not too cold in November and December.
During the months of hibernation, the hedgehog utilizes the fats stored in its body in order to fuel different body processes. Eating well during summer time is essential to fuel the body during hibernation when no food is consumed. Sometimes giving supplementary food is required.
When will my hedgehog wake up?
Hibernation will depend on a number of factors including weather. Most probably hedgehogs will wake up in March and will be seen more often in UK gardens. After the hibernation in over and in spring when the hedgehogs start to come out, they are usually one third lighter of their previous weight and are very thirsty.
Hedgehogs will wake up several times during hibernation but will not leave the nest or move unless it is too cold in order and only to seek a warmer one.
Where do hedgehogs live and hibernate?
They usually live in the outskirts of woodland and are often seen living in hedgerows. A well maintained hedgerow is a safe place for the hedgehog to live. Because it provides shelter and is full of insects to provide food. That’s why it is also a safe place for the hedgehog to hibernate.
A good hibernating nest will have a lot of characteristics that the hedgehog will pay attention to. It has to be sheltered and dry. It also has to be compact in order to help the hedgehog stay warm and to keep it safe from its natural predators.
The most popular places for choosing a hibernating nest are:
- Compost heaps.
- In roots of trees.
- Under sheds.
- Under hedges.
- Piles of wood.
- Old rabbit burrows.
Because we have a lot of bonfire parties like the Guy Fawkes Night that take place during the hedgehog’s hibernation season. Each bonfire should be closely examined before setting up the fire. For the same reason compost heaps should be checked well during the hibernation season. Because, there might be a hedgehog sleeping in there.
Facts about hedgehog hibernate
Below are some facts about when do hedgehogs hibernate:
- There are a lot of animals that remain inactive during winter months because of the scarcity of food. The only animals that hibernate during the winter months are the bat, the dormouse and the hedgehog. Other animals like lizards and snakes become inactive but don’t really hibernate during winter.
- Hedgehogs hibernate because their most important source of food, insects, becomes scarce during the cold months of winter. This means that they will save their stored energy and will make their bodies stop many of the essential processes.
- The body goes through a lot of changes during hibernation. The heart beats drop and the body is unable to perform many of the vital processes. Hibernation will also lower the speed of metabolism. A hedgehog will breathe in and out every few minutes. The temperature of the body drops to a great extent and the fat stored in the body keeps the hedgehog alive.
- If the temperature drops dramatically below 1C, the hedgehog might suffer from frostbite which can be very dangerous and might even freeze to death. But usually before this happens, the body of the hedgehog will probably shiver and shake enough to wake it up which will push it to go and seek a warmer nest to continue its hibernation.
- If for any reason, the hedgehog was unable to put on enough weight and store fat before hibernation. It will not be able to survive through winter and it will probably die.
- The nest is usually 50 cm wide.
- It is usual that males and females share the same hibernating nest.
- If the winter is not that cold and insects are in abundance, hedgehogs will not hibernate.
What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
When you think of having those pet with quills, you may ask first, “What do hedgehogs eat?” You have to ensure that you will be providing them with the proper food and diet for them to stay healthy and active.
Hedgehogs are not peaky eaters, they have been known to eat insects, baby mice, small snakes, worms, slugs, eggs and fruits. In the wild, they feast on different insects offering them fiber and chitin, material primarily found in insect’s exoskeleton.
At the same time, they also prefer to munch small animals and plants. So, as you know what do hedgehogs eat, you will be able to provide them a well-balanced diet that can greatly provide them with lots of protein and fiber and with low fat content.
You have to feed hedgehogs a heathy diet which depends to what type of activity they are engaged to and to their metabolism. In case that you notice that your hedgehog is becoming fat, you have to cut back its food portions.
Nutritious diet for your pet hedgehog will ensure you that you will be having a healthy and happy companion for years.
Food and Diet for Hedgehogs
Now, you have already the idea of what do hedgehog eat, but with following list of food items that you can feed on your hedgehog, it will be easier for you to keep them healthy and live longer.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Moist Food?
It is also ideal to feed your pet hedgehog moist food. Canned dog or cat food can work well as a hedgehog food. But, you have to ensure that these food are rich in protein and fiber and are primarily made of chicken or other meat.
Do Hedgehog Eat Dry Food?
There many available commercial hedgehog food but not quite available to some pet shop. As an alternative, you may opt chicken or meat dry cat food which is high in protein content. Dry food should be a primary part of your hedgehog’s diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Ideally, you may also include a small portion of fruits and vegetables of what do hedgehogs eat. Some of the recommend fruits and vegetables that your pet’s diet are peas, apples, beans, carrots and grapes.
You can try a different variety of fruits and vegetables since they are likely to eat few types. Fruits and vegetables should be only in small portion of their diet, so never overfeed them with these foods.
If you think of what do hedgehogs eat, you may usually think of nutritious foods. But, similar to humans who loves junk food, hedgehogs are not exempted. You may add treats on their diet as variation, but need to be in moderation. Some of the great treats you can take advantage of are mealworms and crickets.
Other options will be cooked food like chicken, hamburger and eggs and moist dog or cat treats. Also, by giving them small piece of your food is another simple way of supplying them with treats.
You may offer them with fruits and vegetables for about 4 times a week. You can give them soft fruits like melon, berries and bananas while for vegetables, you can feed them with lettuce and other greens and cooked sweet potatoes.
How Often do Hedgehogs Drink Water?
Your idea for what do hedgehogs eat is already clear to you and now, you have to provide them with fresh drinking water using water bottle or dish since they need a clean source of water.
Food to Avoid in Feeding Hedgehog
Knowing of what do hedgehogs eat can help you maintain their good health condition, but to make it more possible, you also have to avoid unnecessary foods.
You have to avoid feeding them with the eyes of potatoes and onions for these are known to be toxins for animals. Also, never feed them with broccoli, cauliflower and peppers for they can cause gastrointestinal stress.
Keep them away from dried fruits that are high in sugar content. Lastly, never let your pet munch dead bugs for these contain bacteria.
Facts About Baby Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are known to share distant ancestry with the shrews (Soricidae family) with gymnures probably being the intermediate links and have significantly changed a bit over the last 15 million years. Just like most of the ancient mammals which have adapted the nocturnal way of life.
The females usually reach sexual maturity at age 61 to 68 days old; nevertheless, most of the first pregnancies happen around 6 to 8 months old.
Individuals have to note that females can get pregnant anytime upon their sexual maturity period. If the female hedgehog has come in contact with a male gaining more than 50g in the following three weeks, there’s a high possibility that the female hedgehog will get pregnant.
The pregnant females require added nutrition especially during the period of pregnancy as well as lactation. You supplement them with high calorie cat food and premium quality kitten foods during those times.
The gestation time; which is referred to as the number of days in pregnancy of hedgehog is said to be between 34 to 37 days.
The females commonly give birth at night or can also be early in the morning. These female hedgehogs are solitary and might injure or worst, might kill their young when disturbed. It is highly essential to get rid of any cagemate and leave her and her young litter undisturbed for at least about 5 to 10 days after giving birth.
If you’re sure that your female is really pregnant, then the cagemates must be removed at least five days before giving birth. The mother and the baby hedgehogs should also be kept in a secluded and peaceful part of your house.
The right supplemental heat must also be provided at all times necessary. This is more beneficial for the baby hedgehog and new mothers as well. Recycled newspaper bedding can also be provided for your hedgehogs’ good nesting.
Owners must realized that, unfortunately, recently purchased females and those new to the home might be young or may be under some psychological stress.
Once we add the pregnancy into the health demands of females, the mothers might be taxed. The viability of litter is not at all times attainable under these given circumstances despite extending the best of care.
The Hedgehog and its Hoglets
The mother usually give birth between 3 to 5 baby hedgehog however, the size of the litter can range from 1 to 7. The baby hedgehog normally stay in their mom’s side or in the nest most of the time.
You need to quietly and visually check on the mothers as well as the hoglets several times per day. Keep in mind that the mothers can sometimes become ultimately distressed with noise or handling and might harm or abandon her young.
You better check on the mother regularly to make sure that she is eating properly. This might turn out to be a medical emergency in case she stops eating the right way following the giving birth stage.
Since the females are prone to particular complications during the process of birthing and our clue behind this might be because she stops eating. Call an expert veterinarian near you if you’re seriously concerned about this matter.
If the young is injured, push out of the nest consistently and left out. Anyhow, if you’re concerned about the young not properly nursing, you better contact a vet as soon as possible.
After five days, you might spot clean the enclosures however, you need to avoid disturbing the nest area at least until 10 days and if the mother seems distressed, you better stop and try again in some other days.
The baby hedgehog should also be fed with good milk substitute like “Vitapet” lactose free pet milk which is usually available in the supermarket. You should never give your hoglets cow’s milk.
The goat’s milk with colostrum can be used for a short period of time in case no other options are available. The goat’s milk that is available in the supermarket is not really suitable and advisable.
Steps in the Feeding Baby Hedgehog
The things you will need are:
- One short piece of quality rubber tubing like cannula. This should also be sterile.
- A sterile syringe, 10ml, 5 ml or 1 ml depending on the feed’s size required
- A warmer in order to keep feed at ideal body temperature
- Sterilizer or Milton fluid to clean equipment between feeds
You are advised to refer on the list below for the right frequencies and amounts. Heat up just the right feed for a single sitting and then warm it to body temperature.
You can test this at the back of your wrist as you would likewise do for the babies. We make use of bottle warmer that comes with disk on top to ensure that foods’ right temperature is maintained all throughout the feeding. However, there are those who utilize food warmers with the tea lights.
Put the baby hedgehog in a clean towel in your lap and make sure to keep the baby the proper way up on its own feet. Avoid putting the baby on its back for the reason that this might inhale the feed and then drown.
Place the syringe’s tip or the rubber tube if it is an ultimately young hoglet beneath the lip and squeeze one drop gently. Some of the hoglets will immediately attack syringe and then gobble down while others take some while to obtain this idea. Feed them with slowly.
Youngest hoglets also have their toilet needs. If you noticed that they have not been passing urine or feces by themselves then, it would be best to do if for them. We make use of quality and unscented baby wipes.
You can use the corner of the wipes to quickly and gently tickle the area around its genital. This will surely do the trick but tinies actually have thinner can and chances are you can make their skin sore.
When it comes to the feed, this is a bit acidic and can result to sore burns so never toilet more than twice or thrice per day. Toileting hoglets on their own feet is a more ideal way of preventing urine burn.
In case you noticed urine burn, “Soov” cream is an excellent option. Local pharmacies are now offering this cream for urine burn but make sure to apply properly as required.
If you can’t get the babies to toilet or eat, you can contact us immediately. There’s no time to keep hanging around as these babies need to be monitored urgently.
Some of the youngsters can ultimately be problematic for several varied reasons. There are even instances that even the experts lose them. You can learn ways on how to do things properly for you to gain more confidence.
The given weights are just guide. Once the hoglets turn a week old, there’s an expected weight difference between the litter mates. It is essential to weigh hoglets all at the same time every day and do this again properly afterwards.
This serves as a guide to their growth. It is advised to weigh them prior to each and every feed. In every 1 ml of the hoglet’s feed which was ingested, a 1g increase in weight should be noticeable. Use your exclusive daily weights to effectively track progress.
Avoid overfeeding. Distended tummy simple means bloat. You need to immediately stop feeding and give them rehydration fluid instead.
Hoglets Birth to Three Days Old
- At birth, hoglets are actually deaf, pink bald and deaf
- Approximately weighs about 7 to 25 grams
- At an hour, the spine begins pushing through their outer skin
- At 36 hours, second coat of the dark brown spines start to emerge.
- The hoglets also begin to jump in when they are disturbed.
Hoglets that weigh under 12 g might be premature and all hoglets will surely struggle if they fail to have the very first feed from their mother.
Upon arrival, we give small quantities each hour to get the newborns used to the brand new taste and additionally our need to feed at particular instances instead of on demand as they would have had from the mother.
You can’t pressure a selected amount of feed into them and need to go along with the flow. Some will fortunately guzzle 1ml while others may struggle to get more than zero.2ml down them.
Never force it. If they do not want to eat, attempt toileting first, ensure they’re warm sufficiently and in the event that they still don’t take any, leave them and try again after half an hour.
Upon establishing a pattern of regular feeding, give 1 to 2 ml of good quality milk substitute every two hours. Never give milk that contains lactose.
Mothers feed round the clock for the first couple of days. At 3 to 4 days, she will begin to come out especially at night to water and feed herself.
Baby Hedgehog Three Days to One Week
- Hoglets are deaf and blind
- Darker spines begin to come out
- Weigh approximately 25 to 30 grams
- Never leave hoglets over 6 hours between the feeds
- The hoglets might jump when completely disturbed
Feed 1 to 2 ml good quality milk substitute at least every three hour and the final feed should be at midnight to 2 am.
Hoglets One to Two Weeks Old
- At 1 week old, hoglets are still deaf and blind
- They become more vocal when disturbed, frightened or hungry
- Whiskers begin to emerge
- White spines remain longer than brown ones
At 11 days old, the hoglets will begin to curl. Feed them with 2 to 3 ml of milk substitute every three hours.
Baby Hedgehog Two to 3 Weeks Old
- Two weeks – More second coat spines.
- Fine hairs like stubble on nose
- Ears and eyes start to open
- Third layer of bigger and more grounded spines begin to develop
Sustain 3-5mls of drain each 3-4 hours. Hoglets ought to be consistently putting on weight, if not, increase feed frequency.
Baby Hedgehog Three Weeks Old
- Fewer white spines left, practically supplanted by third stage spines
- First incisor teeth begin to show up
- Dense covering of the short brown hair
Feed 5-6mls each 3-4 hours and leave a little, shallow dish of feed to urge the baby to lap
Baby Hedgehog Four Weeks Old
- No longer rounded puppy appearance to snout
- Skin totally concealed by fur
- Should weigh between 84-130 grams
Begin to give strong nourishment as milk teeth ought to have erupted. It’s regularly a smart thought to wean the infant by initially liquidizing some kitten jellies and blending it with milk substitute.