By Jill Warnick
I bought a pair of hedgehogs, probably 6 months old according to the shopkeeper. They are a male and a female. It’s been only five days, and they get along fine. The male hedgehog is really comfortable with us and squeaks softly, roaming around during out-of-cage time. He even climbs over my feet and tried to squeeze into my pants. However, the female hedgehog sometimes gets a bit jumpy when I put my hands near her. We have not really held them to play, only carried them from cage to floor and back. Do I need to separate then since they seem friendly with each other? If they were siblings, will they mate? Is it possible that the female hedgehog is pregnant? Are male hedgehogs friendlier? Do they really wake up for six or seven hours per day? Mine seem to sleep almost all the time. They wake up, poke their nose out of the cage, I stroke their forehead, hand-feed them and they lay back down to sleep. This happens in the day and sometimes at night. The hedgehogs don’t seem to be drinking much water. I have to bring the dish to them when they pop their heads out of their sleeping area. Then they might drink.
First, you need to know if you indeed have a male and a female hedgehog. To do this, look at each hedgehog’s belly. The male will look like he has a belly button, and the female will not.
If you do have a male and a female hedgehog pair and they are older then 2 months, then I would suspect your female is pregnant. The first thing to do is separate them. Otherwise, the male hedgehog will eat the babies once they arrive. Give the female hedgehog a nest box in which to have her babies. The gestation period is 35 days. Give her a lot of privacy, as hedgehogs are very nervous when they have young and will kill their babies if disturbed. For more information, research the topic of hedgehog breeding.
You can house female hedgehogs together if the cage is big enough to accommodate them. Male hedgehogs must be kept by themselves. A pair of hedgehogs of the opposite sex kept together will breed no matter if they are siblings or not, so once baby hedgehogs reach 8 weeks of age, males should be separated from females.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they are most active during the night. During the day, they are almost always in their hide box. Sometimes they might come out during the day to feed, but most of their activity, such as eating, drinking and playing, is carried out at night.
Are your hedgehogs pooping and peeing? If so they are probably drinking enough. If you are feeding your hedgehogs wet food, they will drink less because they are getting most of their moisture from their food. As a staple diet, I recommend dry cat food that’s low in fat. Make sure the first ingredient is meat and not a grain. Dry food is better for hedgehogs’ teeth than wet food.