When do Hedgehogs Have Babies?

Baby hedgehogs, called Hoglets, are born in the UK in June and July. A second litter may be born in September or October. They are usually 4 or 5 hoglets in a litter. Newborn hoglets are blind and tiny, weighing just 25 grams. When they are born, baby hedgehogs have no visible spines.

Baby Hedgehogs – When, Where and How?

Hedgehog numbers in the UK are declining rapidly. So the sight of a mother leading a little procession of baby hogs out on their first foraging trip is a delight for anyone interested in wildlife.

It signals the start of a new generation and gives new hope for the future of the species.

But being a baby hedgehog is a risky business. Maybe only half of the hedgehogs born in the UK make it to maturity.

The better we understand hedgehog mating and hoglet-rearing, the more we can help our local hoglets make it through to healthy adulthood.

So in this article, we are going to cover:

  • the hedgehog mating season.
  • pregnancy and birth.
  • hoglet development and family life.
  • dangers for baby hedgehogs.
  • how to help a baby hedgehog.

So read on for all you need to know about this most exciting time in the hedgehog year.

When are Baby Hedgehogs Born?

The Hedgehog Mating Season.

Before we start thinking about when hoglets are born, we need to go back a step and take a look at when, and how, they are made.

Hedgehogs come out of hibernation in March or April and quickly start the process of fattening up for the mating season.

Mating starts in April and can go on until September. The main activity though takes place in May and June.

Predator Proof hedgehog house

It’s a noisy business, and if you have hogs in your garden, this is undoubtedly a time when you will know they are around, even if you don’t see them.

The courtship ritual isn’t all that romantic.

The male hog finds a female and starts to circle round her. She will give him the cold shoulder, turning her side to him so he can’t approach. Whilst at the same time putting him off with plenty of grunting and snorting noises.

All this noise quite often attracts the attention of other males who may then approach to try their luck. If this happens the two males will have a bit of a tussle, head butting and jostling each other. Sometimes one or other wins and goes back to the female.

Other times the female gets bored and wanders off, leaving the males to it!

The mating dance can go on for hours but eventually ends quite suddenly, either with one of the hogs running off or when mating starts.

Mating for hedgehogs is an extremely prickly business – think sharp spines meeting soft underbelly – ouch!

So mating can only happen with the full cooperation of both hogs. The female must lie flat to the ground arching her head and shoulders, so she almost looks like she’s doing yoga.

This way her spines lie flat and the male can safely climb on board, grasping the spines between her shoulder blades with his teeth and using his paws to get a better grip.

At any time during the process, the female can change her position so she “bristles” and throws the male off.

Even after all this mating is not guaranteed to lead to pregnancy

So hedgehogs do lots of mating, with lots of different partners just to be sure. Two a night is not unusual, and a hog may have ten or 12 different partners during the mating season according to Pat Morris in his great book “Hedgehogs”.

Hedgehogs are generally solitary creatures, and mating doesn’t change this. After the act, there seems to be no pair bond formed at all. The male goes on his way and takes no part in raising the litter. There is little chance he would ever recognise his offspring.

If you would like to take a closer look at mating hedgehogs check out this video:

Pregnancy and Giving Birth

Female hedgehogs are usually pregnant for around 32 days before giving birth.

But pregnancy can go on for quite a bit longer. This is very unusual in mammals. It is thought that pregnancy is extended when the weather turns cold after the female becomes pregnant, pushing her back into hibernation. When this happens, the pregnancy and development of the embryo will be put “on hold” and start up again when the mother comes back out of hibernation.

During the pregnancy, the female will be kept busy building a nursery nest.

The nursery nest is similar to the hibernaculum where hedgehogs spend the winter. It’s just bigger, to allow room for the hoglets, and a bit more untidy. Where leaves are the primary building material for a hibernaculum, a nursery nest is made of all sorts of bits the hog picks up including paper and bits of rubbish. As it’s not so cold at nursing time, the hog doesn’t need to be quite as careful about making sure the nest is well insulated.

When the female gives birth she will usually produce a litter of 4 or 5 hoglets. Bigger litters do happen, but having a bigger litter seems to reduce the individual hoglets chances of making it to adulthood.

Baby Hedgehog less than 1 week old, with eyes closed and white spines.

When baby hedgehogs are born, they are tiny, just 25 grams or one ounce in weight. They are born blind.

No spines are visible when they are born – which is when you think about it is probably a very good thing for the mother.

The new-born hogs are covered in greyish skin over a layer of liquid, a bit like a water blister. This skin serves to protect the mother during birth and quickly retracts as the hoglets grow.

Hoglet Development and Family Life

Baby Hedgehogs are only with their mother for around six weeks, and in this time they must develop from tiny, blind, spineless infants into independent young hogs.

It’s a hectic time in the hedgehog’s life cycle.

During the first few hours after birth, the hoglets covering of skin retracts to reveal pure white spines, about 100 of them, with a centre parting.

Over the next few weeks the brown spines we are more used to seeing grow up through the white ones. As more and more brown spines grow, the white ones become almost invisible and will eventually be lost through moulting.

Baby hedgehogs feed on mothers milk, just like humans. The mother has two sets of five nipples. This would allow her to feed a huge litter of 10 in theory. In practice, though, she is unlikely to have enough milk to feed more than 4 or 5 hoglets properly.

The babies will start to eat solids at around three weeks. Mum will generally chew up bits of food and offer them to the hoglets in small, softened portions.

Hoglets are born with milk teeth, just like humans. They will start to get their first adult teeth at three weeks old and lose their final milk teeth at around three months.

Baby hedgehogs are born a pale pink colour, and over the first few weeks of life, fur grows, and the skin gradually darkens as the brown spines come through.

By four weeks old the hoglets will look just like miniature hedgehogs and will be ready to leave the nest with Mum to go on foraging trips. These first trips out of the nest are one of the most perilous times for hoglets.

Hoglets typically spend just two or three weeks out and about with Mother before going off on their own.

As they are mostly solitary creatures, siblings don’t tend to hang around with one another once they have left the nest. Father plays no part in the raising of the hoglets, and it’s unlikely that he would recognise his young if he met them.

Once the hoglets have gone their separate ways, the female must concentrate on eating to get her strength back up. Over the past ten weeks, she will have produced more than a kilo of hedgehogs. This is far more than her own body weight, and it’s a tremendous physical strain.

Hoglets are not sexually mature in their first year of life, so they will not mate until after hibernation.

The mother though may go on to produce a second little in late summer or early autumn. The babies she has then will become Autumn Juveniles, some of our most vulnerable hedgehogs.

Dangers for Baby Hedgehogs.

The first year of a hedgehog’s life is undoubtedly the most hazardous. It is thought that only half of all hoglets born make it to adulthood, with one in five not even making it out of the nest.

So what hazards do hoglets face?

  • Disturbed nests.  If a nest is disturbed soon after hoglets are born, the mother may abandon or even eat her young. If a nest is disturbed when the hoglets are a little older, the mother may move them to a new nest. She does this by picking each hoglet up by the scruff of the neck, with her teeth. She then carries them one by one to the new site. This is a hazardous mission.
  • Insufficient Milk. In a cool, dry summer, the mother may struggle to get enough food herself to produce the milk she needs to feed her young.
  • Predators. Badgers and to a lesser extent foxes are the only real predators adult hedgehogs face in the wild. These are of course even more of a threat for hoglets who may also be attacked and injured by dogs and cats.
  • Getting separated from Mum. If hoglets out on foraging trips with the female get separated from her too early, they are likely to lack the skills needed to survive on their own.
  • Normal Hedgehog Hazards. Once they are out and about with Mum, hoglets face all the same perils as adults, with less of the experience of dealing with them. These include roads, ponds, slug pellets, holes to fall into – the list goes on.
  • Underweight for Hibernation.  A hedgehog that goes into hibernation underweight will probably not survive. This can be a particular problem for Autumn Juveniles but in a cool, dry summer with little food around could be a problem for early season hoglets too.
  • Unhelpful Helpers.  Hoglets are delicate little creatures. It’s easy for a well-intentioned human who wants to be helpful to do the wrong thing. Read on for tips on how to help baby hedgehogs safely.
Huge Hedgehog Goodies Competition

How to Help Baby Hedgehogs.

Here are our top tips on helping baby hedgehogs in your garden.

  • Do make sure plenty of food and water are left out for the mother in your feeding station.
  • Do provide a hedgehog house for use as a nesting box. Hedgehogs may struggle to find the nesting sites they need in modern, tidy gardens. A hedgehog house can provide a safe haven for raising a litter.
  • Don’t disturb the nest. We know if you think you have a litter of hoglets in your garden you are going to want to peek. Don’t do it! If you simply have to know what’s going on in your hedgehog house wait until you clean it out then fit a wildlife camera, in the meantime, leave it alone. If you disturb a nest accidentally carefully re-cover it with dry leaves, grass and twigs.
  • Do be very careful when you are cleaning up the garden. Strimmers, bonfires, spades and forks can quickly finish off a hoglet.
  • Do look out for distressed baby hedgehogs who may have lost their Mum. Very young hedgehogs make a shrill squeaking noise, a bit like a baby bird. If you find a baby hog out on its own, be prepared to step in, it will need your help.
  • Don’t ever give a baby hedgehog (or any hedgehog) cows milk. It’s very bad for them. If you are going to feed, offer kitten or puppy milk.
  • Don’t try to hand-rear a baby hedgehog yourself. They are delicate creatures and need expert support.

If you find a baby hedgehog out on its own, you will need to get it to your local hedgehog rescue. If you see one wandering hoglet, it will be worth having a look round for others. If the mother has been killed, there may be several who need your help.

Line a cardboard box with a towel. Put in a hot water bottle, (or a plastic bottle filled with warm water) wrapped in another towel. Place the hoglet inside.

Call your local hedgehog rescue straight away.

Conclusion: Baby Hedgehogs Face Huge Challenges, We Can Help Them Succeed.

British hedgehogs are in trouble and need our help.

Intensive farming, the destruction of hedgerows and the use of pesticides have led to a considerable drop in hedgehog numbers.

The birth of each new hoglet is a great sign of hope for the whole hedgehog species.

But birth is just the start of a very challenging few weeks and months for the baby hog. It will face many dangers before reaching adulthood.

Luckily you can help by providing food and shelter, making our gardens safe and looking out for babies in trouble.

For more information on how you can help hedgehogs visit:

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Hedgehog Street.

And if you spot a hedgehog in trouble, you can find your local hedgehog rescue project by clicking here.

And if you have more questions on this topic we would love to hear from you, leave us a comment below.

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28 thoughts on “When do Hedgehogs Have Babies?”

  1. I have had a hedgehog in my hedgehog house for several weeks now.I usually put a small dish of hedgehog food just inside the house which was eaten each night,lately most of the food is left .Yesterday around lunch time I saw the hog running of down the garden.last night 10pm it came back had a drink of water ignored the food but went into the house ,I watch for sometime
    But did not see it come out,could it be it has young.?

    1. Hi Grace. Yes it could have young. In this case you need to steer clear of the house for a new weeks. They do not like to be disturbed with young.
      Let us know if you have any developments!

  2. Julie szymanski

    We have mum and 4 hoglets running around our garden. We feed them cat food and cat biscuits and always water they are delightful julie

      1. Hi Clare,we had a hedghog and 5 babies back in may,we had to take them to a hedghog hospital,we just found out we getting them back today,do we put them back were they were born please.

        1. HI Sandy,
          I hope the release went well. Yes they should go back where they came from so long as it is a suitable site. Away from busy roads, plenty of cover and food sources etc.
          Keep us posted on how they do!
          Good Luck
          Clare

      1. The RSPB sell a device which works on some cats! Have a look on their website for cat watch deterrent. As far as I can tell, on my wildlife camera, the hogs aren’t bothered by a cat visiting. I am not sure if they could hurt a hog. Maybe someone can comment. How privileged are we?

        1. Cats are likely to come off worse in an encounter with hedgehogs. They could do damage to babies, but not very likely.

    1. Early this Sunday morning a busy hedgehog building a nest in our garden. Small mound of leaves and twigs in an Igloo shape when I looked yesterday. It / she? was very industrious and did many trips, it was daylight but early AM. Could this suggest a late litter is imminent; Any advice for a late August litter?
      I have a little video of it but not sure I can insert here.

      1. Hi Rosemary,
        Yes it does indeed suggest a late litter on the way. We’ve been busy writing a guide this week, so watch this space, will be publishing later today.
        Hoglets born in the next month or so are very likely to need some support to get them through hibernation.
        I don;t think you can share video in the comments, but we’d love to see it on our FB page!
        Best
        Clare

  3. Barbara Spear

    I have had at least 3 hedgehogs in my garden this year . During April there were 2 hogs in the box for several days one much larger than the other ending with a lot of chasing and huffing and puffing I presume they were mating. And now the smaller hog has absolutely stuffed the box with plant leaves and hay. I do hope she is preparing to have young . How can I tell without disturbing her .

    1. Hi Barbara,
      It all sounds very hopeful!
      There’s no real way to tell if she’s had hoglets without disturbing her. And I’m sure you know how important it is not to do that.
      You just need to be patient. You could think about getting a little night camera if you are really keen to get a first glimpse. They start from about £40 and are motion activated. So if you set one up outside the house you should see Mum coming and going with food and get to see the hoglets when the start to venture out.
      Keep us posted!
      Clare

      1. Oh how exciting Clare, I have one smaller, scruffier hog and one much larger tidy hog living in the 3 nesting boxes in my garden. The big one has been huffing and confronting the smaller one [which backed off] recently. But last night, on camera, it caught a worm and took it into the nesting box. Could it be feeding young or just eating in bed? I have a video I will put on your FB. Would a pregnant one huff and approach another to mate. Or is it possibly not wanting it around while it has it’s young? Or something completely different? I have no idea what sex they are. Many thanks

        1. Very exciting!
          The worm carrying definitely sounds like she is feeing young in the box. they are not known for taking food away, generally eat straight away. As for the noises – not sure!
          Look forward to seeing the video!
          Best
          C

  4. Hi I have a mother and 4babies they feed well they are lovely we made a box for them but they made a nest in a black bag

  5. We’ve just taken on a new business premises and have found a huge hedgehog living next to the outhouses. She appears to have made a nest out of plastic and crisp packets. We won’t disturb it but were thinking of putting some hay there to make her feel more secure. The area is heavily built up and on a very busy road. Should we get her a wooden Hedgehog house or relocate her to our allotments at home? If we leave her where she is and get her a house, what would be the best way to introduce her to it? Or do we risk upsetting her causing her to leave? We’ll leave some food and water out for her anyway but any advice would be really appreciated! Thanks x

    1. Hey Jenny,
      How exciting!
      Now is the time that female hedgehogs will be settling down to have a second litter of hoglets. so it’s really important not to disturb her. If she is making a nursing nest she probably wouldn’t relocate to a hedgehog house at this stage. If the area where she is is a bit short on nesting materials then yes, leaving some hay or garden waste nearby could be appreciated.
      If you are worried about the location you could give your local hedgehog rescue a call and discuss it with them.
      Best of luck and keep us posted!

  6. My dog finds and (horrible) eats pink embryonic creatures that he finds under tussocks of mown grass on our local recreation ground. The creatures are about the size of the palm of a smallish adult hand. I think they may be dead already when he finds them. They have bones. I don’t get to see them in time to give more description but several people say they are small moles. There are masses of molehills on the rec but these things are nowhere near any of them. Might they be baby moles??

    1. Hi Veronica,
      I have to admit to being flummoxed by this. I don;t think they could be moles as they sound too big. The same for hedgehogs or mice, or even rats.
      No idea I’m afraid. But if you figure it out we would love to hear.

    2. This sounds like bunnies maybe? I don’t know what the right time of year is for them to have babies, but I do know they are often in clumps of what looks like mown grass lumps.

  7. Pauline frost

    I’ve had an hedgehog hibernate for some years and then this year another one suddenly appeared and today there was two in the box is this normal or could it be a Female nesting

    1. Hi Pauline,
      This is unlikely to be a hoglet, its too late for first little and a bit early for the second, and there would normally be more than one.
      It’s unusual, but not unheard of for two hogs to bed down together. Could they be spring juveniles from the same litter?

  8. Hi,
    I currently live in the Netherlands, where there is a service called the animal ambulance (dierenambulance). I called them last night for a hedgehog that likely had a traffic accident. I looked dead, but I thought I could see it breathe. The ambulance arrived and established it was a lactating female. She died in their hands within a couple minutes. They then went looking for the litter for an hour in vain.
    So here are my questions: how far from the nest does a mother forage? And how long can hoglets survive on their own? (I suppose it depends on their age, too.)
    Thanks.

    1. That’s so sad Chloe.
      And as you suspect there is no clear answer to either of your points.
      How far the mother will go to forage totally depends on the availability of food. but it could be up to half a mile.
      And again, with the hoglets, their chances of survival completely depend on how old they are. If they are a little older they will sound distress calls or even try to leave the nest themselves and look for food. If either of these things happen they have a chance of being rescued.
      All we can do is hope I think.
      Best
      Clare

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