Whilst hedgehog babies, otherwise known as ‘hoglets’, are cute to hold on to and look at – they do require an attentive routine of care.
When raising baby hedgehogs, to ensure the best survival rates and growth potential (typically 1 in 5 hoglets in a litter will not survive), it pays to be well-versed in their handling.
The following is a short guide written for your benefit.
- 1 …but first, a few facts on hedgehog breeding
- 2 The mini-guide to baby hedgehogs
- 3 Some FAQs
- 3.1 What time of day do hedgehog mothers usually give birth?
- 3.2 How should I keep a check on a mother hedgehog and her new babies?
- 3.3 What are baby hedgehogs called?
- 3.4 How many babies will a hedgehog give birth to in a litter?
- 3.5 What size are baby hedgehogs when newborn?
- 3.6 Where can I buy a baby hedgehog for sale near me?
- 3.7 Can baby hedgehogs open their eyes when they are born?
- 3.8 How can I make sure all babies are feeding properly with the hedgehog mother?
- 3.9 Are hedgehog babies born with spines?
- 3.10 When does ‘quilling’ occur in hedgehogs?
- 3.11 When do baby hedgehogs start teething?
- 3.12 When do hedgehog babies get weaned?
- 3.13 What should I feed baby hedgehogs?
- 3.14 At what age do hedgehogs leave the nest & are no longer cared for by their mothers?
- 3.15 When is it alright to handle young hedgehogs?
- 3.16 Is it safe to feed baby hedgehogs cat food or kitten food?
- 3.17 What should I do if I find an abandoned baby hedgehog out on its own during the day?
- 3.18 What noise will a distressed hoglet make?
- 3.19 What is the first thing I should do if I find a baby hedgehog in distress?
- 3.20 What should I do if there are signs a baby hedgehog has been vomiting?
- 4 Conclusion
…but first, a few facts on hedgehog breeding
Mature hedgehogs (2 years old and above) can breed every year of their lives, producing litters of young each successful conception.
Hedgehog mating happens most commonly in the UK (for example) during the months of May and June.
Female hedgehog weight gain during the first 3 weeks of pregnancy usually peaks a little over 50g.
Demand for calorie consumption of pregnant female hedgehogs increases considerably during gestation. Quality hedgehog food is recommended to keep her intake up.
With a gestation period of only 30-40 days, the most typical time to see baby hedgehogs being born in the UK would, therefore, be July.
Now for the guide…
The mini-guide to baby hedgehogs
We hope the following points will answer many of your baby hedgehog related questions. If you need any more help, please feel free to ask using the form at the bottom of this page.
A short story to begin our journey…
The following video (2:35 mins) entitled, “Tiny Pink Blob Grows Up Into A Hedgehog | The Dodo Little But Fierce” is a very detailed examination of a real success story of a tiny newborn hedgehoglet raised in captivity to an adult age.
A great vid for getting a close-up picture of how hoglets should be cared for and the efforts needed to sustain their vitality when only so young. Enjoy 🙂
What time of day do hedgehog mothers usually give birth?
Hedgehogs are usually born in the night, or very early morning.
During labour, hedgehog mothers ought to be left alone as they can become overly anxious.
If threatened, hedgehog mothers are known to kill or even eat their newborn babies as a distress reflex.
If the mother shares a hedgehog house or cage whilst in labour – it is critical that the other hedgehog is removed and housed elsewhere. [Please note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]
The new mother and hoglets should be kept in a quiet and isolated spot on your premises to avoid any threat to their wellbeing.
Adequate temperature, by heating with a heat pad, and nesting material (bedding) should be provided for maximum comfort and the best outcome all round.
How should I keep a check on a mother hedgehog and her new babies?
With minimal disturbance or noise, check (at least twice a day):
- that hoglets are nursing confidently from the mother’s milk
- that the mother hedgehog is eating (if she stops eating after birth, she may have been injured during the birth and is therefore distressed – if you think this might be the case, contact your local vet)
- babies should be visibly well and suckling milk (you can expect hoglets to suckle every 2-3 hours)
- do not disturb the nest for at least 10 days as not to interrupt the nurturing process between mother and hoglets
What are baby hedgehogs called?
Baby hedgehogs are commonly called hoglets, cubs, pups, urchins, kits or piglets.
How many babies will a hedgehog give birth to in a litter?
The average litter size for a hedgehog mother is 4-5 hoglets.
What size are baby hedgehogs when newborn?
Baby hedgehogs are about 2-3 inches long when born.
Where can I buy a baby hedgehog for sale near me?
You can buy healthy baby hedgehogs from nearby, reputable breeders.
What’s the best way to find a local hedgehog breeder?
Google searches like this one for: “hedgehog breeders in Gauteng“, for example, will throw up results like this one – https://aspikelife.co.za/
Can baby hedgehogs open their eyes when they are born?
No. Their eyes open naturally at about 2-3 weeks old. They have no vision at all before this.
How can I make sure all babies are feeding properly with the hedgehog mother?
Baby hedgehogs will compete to draw down on milk.
The youngest among the litter (the runt), being physically least able to hold its own, will at times be pushed aside by larger siblings.
This can lead to some younger hedgehog babies suffering from malnutrition as they fail to eat sufficiently to survive.
Helping the younger runts of the litter with additional bottle feed might allow them to catch up with the rest.
Are hedgehog babies born with spines?
Newborn hedgehogs have spines or spikes, which sit beneath the surface of their skin.
These emerge above the skin for the first time after cleaning.
When does ‘quilling’ occur in hedgehogs?
Quilling is when baby hedgehogs shed their soft spikes and grow tougher, adults ones.
Quilling occurs at about 6-8 weeks of age.
A further process of quilling happens again at about 4 months.
Baby spikes are thinner and make the way by widening the pores for the thicker adult spikes to push through.
During quilling, spines can become ingrown and produce soreness – much like a man’s ingrown facial hair. Gentle cleansing and rubbing will often solve the problem.
Hedgehogs have on average 5,000 spikes and 90% of them will fall out, at any one time, when quilling occurs.
The following care is recommended for use to soothe a young hedgehog’s skin during the quilling process:
- Regular baths using an oatmeal-based shampoo/soap for gentle agitation (Aveeno is also highly recommended by Hedgehogheadquarters.com/Millermeade Farm)
- After bathing a rinse in Vitamin E can help soothe skin redness
- Soften skin with a tiny drop or two of olive oil (not any more than a tiny drop though to avoid problems which occur from excessive application)
[Please note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]
Loss of spines can also happen due to poor diet, stress or other reasons – if you are not sure, you should speak with your local vet for advice.
When do baby hedgehogs start teething?
Hoglets start cutting their teeth at around 3 weeks in age.
When do hedgehog babies get weaned?
Baby hoglets are weaned after 4-6 weeks.
What should I feed baby hedgehogs?
Once weaned, baby hedgehogs should be fed good quality moist or dry hedgehog food.
At what age do hedgehogs leave the nest & are no longer cared for by their mothers?
At about 7 weeks, hedgehogs outgrow their mother’s care.
When is it alright to handle young hedgehogs?
Hedgehog mums will begin to generally avoid the nursing impulses of their young as a natural progression onto weaning.
This is usually when short periods of holding will be tolerated best.
Is it safe to feed baby hedgehogs cat food or kitten food?
Yes. Either moist cat food or dry kitten food is recommended. But again the emphasis on good quality.
[Please note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]
What should I do if I find an abandoned baby hedgehog out on its own during the day?
Whatever you do – don’t go around looking for deserted baby hedgehogs.
Your curiosity is more likely to do harm than good – as mothers who have their nests disturbed can flee for fear, leaving their hedgehogs behind.
But having said that, many hoglets are orphaned because their mothers were killed either by being run over by a car or being hit by grass mowers or strimmers.
What noise will a distressed hoglet make?
Baby hedgehogs in distress make a shrill squeaking noise, a bit like a small bird.
What is the first thing I should do if I find a baby hedgehog in distress?
The key care tips for finding orphaned baby hedgehogs are:
- Toileting & cleanliness (hoglets need to be kept exceptionally clean – change bedding regularly)
- Fluids (fluids need to be warmed when feeding hoglets)
What should I do if there are signs a baby hedgehog has been vomiting?
With urgency, you need to get the affected hoglet seen by a vet. Loss of food and fluids can cause a baby hedgehog to quickly deteriorate in health.
Baby hedgehogs much like the young of any animal require careful nurture to reach adulthood.
If you find what looks like an orphaned hoglet in your garden, take care to ensure they truly are alone – their best chance of survival is with their mother.
You can buy hoglets from local breeders, but ensure the vendor is reputable and that your pet hedgehog is healthy.
Cleanliness, good feeding practice, warmth, toileting and fluids are essential to their proper growth.
If you have any worries regarding their health – a local vet will be able to help.
Do you have any experience successfully raising hoglets at home?
Are you a breeder or vet with expertise to share?
Do you want to share some photos of your baby hedgehog?
Feel free to join the conversation below
The British Society for the Preservation of Hedgehogs