A Exploration of the Cutest Baby Hedgehogs Through Facts, Pictures, and FAQs
If you think hedgehogs are cute, just wait until you see a baby hedgehog. These tiny little babies look much like their adult selves, only smaller, cuter and with less intimidating quills.
Here are some incredible facts about baby hedgehogs, as well as some answers to many frequently asked questions about these nocturnal little wonders of nature.
6 Incredible Baby Hedgehog Facts
Baby Hedgehogs Are Called Hoglets
Baby hedgehogs are called ‘hoglets‘, and they are usually born as a ‘litter‘ in ‘nests‘ along with a few siblings. A group of baby hoglets together are sometimes known as a ‘prickle‘ of hoglets, but this is actually the term used for a group of porcupines.
As they grow up, the male hedgehog is called a ‘Boar’ and is slightly larger than a female hedgehog which is called a ‘Sow’.
The collective noun for a group of hedgehogs of undefined age, is an ‘array‘ of hedgehogs. Generally they are solitary animals, but may be seen in groups on occasion, more often when they are young with siblings.
Baby Hedgehogs Are Born Blind
Hedgehogs are born blind. They are also born with a protective membrane which covers their quills, likely to protect them, their siblings and their mothers while gestating. This membrane shrinks and dries up over the first few hours after birth. It is a common misconception that hoglets are born ‘naked’ without spines (quills).
It can be up to 2 to 3 weeks before hoglets are able to see. By this time they will have shed their baby spines and replaced them with their adult spines in a process that is known as ‘quilling’.
Baby Hedgehogs Can Be Very Loud
Hedgehogs vocalize frequently, using an array of noises to communicate different messages. For example, while searching for food, hedgehogs typically grunt and snuffle like pigs. Alternatively, during mating season, they may chuff like a train to attract potential mates. Adults are also known to scream or hiss when aggressive.
Baby hedgehogs have a strong sense of awareness and danger, similar to humans. They will cry out for their mother when they are scared or feel that danger is closeby.
The noise made from severe distress sounds comparable to a baby’s cry which can be easily mistaken for an infant if you’re unaware. Hoglets are also known to make chirping sounds, as well as grunts and snorts.
Baby Hedgehogs Have Some Immunity To Snake Venom
Over time, baby hedgehogs have evolved to become more resistant to snake venom. The are able to tolerate more venom because of the protein erinacine in their muscular system. Although bites in some areas are still lethal, they have good defences over most of their bodies with their spikey quills.
Baby Hedgehogs Grow A Single Set Of Teeth
Baby hedgehogs are monophyodonts, meaning that they only grow one single set of teeth in their entire lives. Other types of monophyodont include rodents, that have one set of teeth that continually grow. Once they lose a tooth there is no tooth to grow in and replace it.
Some animals such as baby manatees and baby crocodiles are polyhpyodonts, and these animals are lucky enough to have their teeth continually replaced. Every time a tooth falls out there is another to grow in and take its place.
Then there are diphyodonts, which include baby humans, baby sheep, baby monkeys and other baby animals like rabbits and baby pigs. Diphyodonts get two sets of teeth in their life. A set of baby teeth which are then replaced by a set of permanent, adult teeth.
Baby Hedgehogs Are Not Rodents
Despite both being monophyodonts, hedgehogs are not rodents. For a start, rodents have two incisors in the front of their mouth that keep growing throughout their lives. This is why you often see rodents with long, sharp teeth. Hedgehogs, on the other hand, only have one incisor on each side of their mouth. This is why hedgehogs can’t chew through wires like rodents can!
Rodents also don’t develop a set of spines like the hedgehog or porcupine. They have a different diet and lifestyle though often sharing many similar ranges and habitats. They are also of different taxonomical orders and families. Rodents are of the order ‘Rodentia‘, whereas hedgehogs are of the order ‘Eulipotyphla‘.
Baby Hedgehog FAQs
What Is The Lifecycle Of A Baby Hedgehog?
Depending on the species, the gestation period for hoglets is between 30 – 60 days. The pale-colored soft spines appear hours after birth, once the protective membrane recedes and take 3 weeks to harden.
Young Hedgehogs become independent of mother at 4 – 6 weeks. As with many animals, it is not unusual for an adult male hedgehog to kill new-born males.
In the wild, when young hoglets reach three to four weeks old, they will take their first venture of of the nest with their mother to forage. They will continue to do this for around 10-14 days before becoming independent and heading out on their own.
Hedgehogs have a relatively long life span for their size. Larger species of hedgehogs live 4 – 7 years in the wild (some have been recorded up to 16 years), and smaller species live 2 – 4 years (4 – 7 in captivity). Lack of predators and controlled diet contribute to a longer life span in captivity.
How Many Hedgehogs Are In A Litter?
There are 17 species of hedgehog, and the size of litter does change between the different species.
The average litter of baby hedgehogs is between 4 – 7 new-borns for larger species of hedgehog and 5 – 6 for smaller ones.
How Big Do Baby Hedgehogs Grow?
Baby hedgehogs can be as small as three to four inches in size, and the smallest species can weigh as little as 10-15 grams at birth. They typically grow to be as large as 10-14 inches long, and between 0.2 – 2 kg in size across the range of species.
The European hedgehog is the largest species and averages between 9.5–14 in long when fully grown. These are also the heaviest hedgehogs, reaching up to 2.2 kg in weight. These are the most common hedgehogs, and found widely in the wild across Europe and the UK.
In contrast, the African pygmy hedgehog is the smallest species, averaging 7-9 in when fully grown. Most hedgehog species will grow to be no more than half a kilo in weight as adults.
What Do Baby Hedgehogs Eat?
For the first few weeks of life, baby hedgehogs survive from their mothers milk. At around 4 weeks old they start to leave the nest and forage with their parent, subsidising their diet. Then from about 5 to 6 weeks old they are onto their normal diet.
Hedgehogs feed on insects, snails, frogs and toads, caterpillars, worms, beetles, snakes, bird eggs, carrion, mushrooms, grass roots, berries, melons and watermelons. Its favourite food is slugs and worms, but it depends on the habitat in which they live.
Where Do Baby Hedgehogs Live?
Hedgehogs build nests of moss and leaves under vegetation around parks, gardens and farmland. They prefer woodland edges, hedgerows and suburban gardens where food is plentiful.
What Are The Predators Of Baby Hedgehogs ?
Hedgehogs are often killed by predators such as foxes, pine martens, stoats and badgers. They also have to watch out for birds of prey, particularly owls, as well as wolves, ferrets and mongoose. Again, these predators vary from region to region. Those in Africa have different predators from those that live in the UK for example.
Hedgehogs are also often killed by manmade influences, such as in ponds, bonfires, on roads, by strimmers and lawnmowers, pesticides, garden netting and litter.
Where Does The Name Hedgehog Come from?
The name hedgehog comes from the habitat in which they prefer to live and forage. They are often found in hedgerows, and shrubbery, which is where they find most of their food and also take shelter.