Breeding and Caring for Baby Hedgehogs (Hoglets)

Breeding and Caring for Baby Hedgehogs (Hoglets)

Hedgehogs, with their prickly exteriors and charming personalities, have captured the hearts of many. But for those considering venturing into the world of hedgehog breeding, meticulous planning and knowledge are crucial. Here’s a comprehensive guide to navigate the process of breeding hedgehogs and caring for their delicate offspring, the adorable hoglets.

Understanding Hedgehog Breeding

Hedgehogs are solitary creatures, meaning they don’t form lasting bonds and only come together for breeding purposes. Breeding should be approached responsibly, with a focus on the health and well-being of the hedgehogs involved.

Preparing for Breeding

Hedgehog Age and Health

Both male (boar) and female (sow) hedgehogs should be at least one year old and in peak physical condition before breeding. Ensure they are free from any underlying health issues that could be passed on to offspring. Consulting a veterinarian experienced with exotic pets is recommended.

Separate Housing

Hedgehogs are territorial. House the boar and sow in separate enclosures until breeding is intended. Introducing them too early can lead to fighting.

Breeding Season

Hedgehogs are seasonal breeders, typically active from spring to early autumn. Mimicking natural light cycles by providing longer daylight hours during this period can stimulate breeding behavior.

The Breeding Process

Introducing the Pair

Once the breeding season arrives, introduce the sow to the boar’s enclosure on neutral ground. This reduces territorial aggression. Monitor them closely to ensure the interaction is peaceful.

Mating Process

The mating process can be noisy and involve chasing and vocalizations. It can take several attempts for a successful mating to occur.

Signs of Pregnancy

Hedgehogs have a gestation period of approximately 35 days. It’s challenging to visually confirm pregnancy in sows until later stages, but weight gain and changes in nesting behavior can be subtle indicators.

Caring for the Expectant Mother

Nutritional Needs

Increase the sow’s food intake to provide her with the necessary nutrients for carrying and nourishing the hoglets. Offer protein-rich foods like insects and high-quality hedgehog kibble.

Nesting Materials

Provide the sow with a comfortable and secure nesting box filled with soft shredded paper or hay. This will create a safe haven for birthing and caring for her young.

Minimal Handling

Minimize handling the sow during pregnancy to reduce stress. Let her focus on preparing for motherhood.

Birth and Early Days of Hoglets

Birth Process

Hedgehogs typically give birth at night or early morning. A litter size can range from 3 to 7 hoglets, and the sow will be very protective of them. Avoid disturbing the mother and her young during this crucial period.

Hoglet Development

Hoglets are born blind and naked, with their soft spines emerging within a few days. The sow will nurse them for approximately 6-8 weeks before they wean and become independent.

Temperature Control

Maintain a warm environment for the hoglets, ideally between 75-80°F (24-27°C). A heating pad placed under half the nesting box with a barrier to prevent direct contact can provide a safe heat source.

Caring for Hoglets

Minimal Handling: Handle hoglets minimally during the first few weeks to avoid stressing the mother.

Monitoring Health: Observe the hoglets for any signs of illness or developmental issues. If you notice any concerns, consult a veterinarian experienced with exotic pets.

Cleaning: Clean the nesting box regularly to maintain hygiene, but avoid disturbing the hoglets or the sow excessively.

Weaning and Separation: By 6-8 weeks, hoglets will be weaned and ready to be separated from their mother. Gradual weaning with appropriate food introduction is crucial.

Finding Homes for Hoglets

Hedgehog breeding can be responsible or irresponsible depending on the end goal. Responsible breeders prioritize the health and well-being of their animals and find suitable homes for the hoglets.

Responsible Rehoming

Ensure potential owners understand the commitment involved in caring for a hedgehog. Provide them with information on proper diet, housing, and veterinary care.

Pet Shops and Breeders

Avoid selling hoglets to pet shops or irresponsible breeders.


Breeding hedgehogs requires dedication, knowledge, and a commitment to the well-being of these fascinating creatures. If you’re not prepared to provide exceptional care for the parents and hoglets, or you cannot guarantee responsible placement for the offspring, it’s best to consider adopting a pet hedgehog from a reputable rescue organization.

Q: Is a license required to breed hedgehogs?

Regulations regarding hedgehog breeding can vary by location. It’s essential to research any local permits or licenses needed before breeding hedgehogs in your area.

Q: What are some signs of complications during pregnancy or birth?

 Signs like excessive bleeding, lethargy, or difficulty delivering the hoglets in the sow could indicate complications. If you notice any concerning behaviors, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Q: Can I breed hedgehogs with different color mutations?

Breeding for specific color mutations can be ethically questionable if not done responsibly. Focus on breeding healthy hedgehogs and prioritize good genetics over aesthetics. Consult experienced breeders for guidance on ethical breeding practices.

Q: What happens if the mother hedgehog rejects her hoglets?

Rejection can occur due to stress, illness, or inexperience. If this happens, hand-rearing the hoglets becomes necessary. This is a specialized and demanding task. Consulting a veterinarian and experienced breeders for guidance is crucial in such situations.

Q: What happens if a hoglet seems weaker or smaller than the others?

Weaker hoglets may require additional care and monitoring. Ensure they have access to a nipple for adequate milk intake. Consult a veterinarian if the hoglet’s health doesn’t improve.

Q: What can I do with a hedgehog I can’t rehome?

If you are unable to find responsible homes for all the hoglets, consider contacting reputable hedgehog rescue organizations. They may be able to take in the remaining hoglets and find them suitable forever homes.