Reproduction

All about baby hedgehogs

The breeding season for hedgehogs typically starts in May, with most young born in June and July. Females have 1 to 2 litters per year, but litters born late in the season (around September) are unlikely to reach sufficient size to be able to survive the winter.

Both male and female hedgehogs demonstrate promiscuity, with each having multiple mates in a single season, meaning that a single litter of hoglets can have multiple fathers. Hedgehogs are ‘induced-ovulators’, so the female only produces an egg whilst mating. To court his mate, the male puts on lengthy displays (they can last several hours!) that involve much circling and rhythmic snorting and puffing. If another male tries to intervene, the rival males confront, chase and even head-butt each other. Though usually solitary animals, male and female hedgehogs will share a nest for a short period during mating season before the male leaves. He takes no part in rearing the young.

Baby hedgehogs are usually born in litters of 4-5, though there can be as few as 1 or as many as 11. Newborn hedgehogs are blind and only weigh between 3 and 25 grams. Their spines may be soft at birth and covered by a layer of skin to protect the mother during delivery, but within hours this skin contracts and the spines quickly harden.  After about four weeks, the mother accompanies her young on their first foraging trip, and three weeks later the hoglets will be fully independent.

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