Do Hedgehogs Live In Groups?

Do Hedgehogs Live In Groups

Do hedgehogs live in groups or are they always loners? Perhaps you are the owner of a pet hedgehog or are wanting to get one. If this is you then you will very definitely want to know the answer to this question.

Do hedgehogs live in groups? No, hedgehogs do not live in groups. They are solitary creatures that prefer to be alone. They nest and hibernate alone. Mothers live with their hoglets in a group until they are ready to leave home at around 6 to 8 weeks. It is possible to keep pet hedgehogs in pairs, but this is not necessary.

There you have it. In a nutshell, hedgehogs prefer to live alone. I have gone into some more detail below about why exactly they prefer to live alone, along with some of their behaviors and routines.

You will also be able to read more about mother hedgehogs and their young, as well as some advice on keeping hedgehogs in pairs in captivity. Read on to find out more.

Do Hedgehogs Live In Groups?

I think it’s pretty well known that hedgehogs are solitary creatures. Much like myself, they prefer their own company! Unlike me, where I’m forced to work in close proximity to people, they have the luxury of choosing to be by themselves most of the time.

This applies to both male hedgehogs, also called boars, and female hedgehogs, called sows.

During the parts of the year where a hedgehog is not hibernating, they will have a number of temporary homes. They will make a thick nest to sleep in, and then come out at night to forage for food. They will walk between 1 and 2 miles a night doing this. Males will normally walk further than females.

After walking for several miles in search of food, a hedgehog will return home alone to sleep for most of the day. If it has built several nests, they may choose a different one, and will not always return to the same one every night. It will never sleep outside of its nest. This can be dangerous, as its leaves a solitary hedgehog vulnerable to predators.

As it moves towards winter time, a almost all of the different types of hedgehogs will begin to prepare for hibernation. Again this will be done alone, rather than in groups. There is an exception to this, where baby hedgehogs are concerned, which I will discuss in more detail below.

Hedgehogs generally tend to hibernate between mid November and March. This can vary based on the climate they are living in. If it is warmer, they may wait until December. Their nest will be much the same as the less permanent ones they make during the summer. Males tend to hibernate earlier than female hedgehogs do.

Whilst they do hibernate between the months of November and March, this does not mean they do not move about at all. It is quite common for a hedgehog to leave their hibernating state to move their homes at least once during the period of hibernation. This helps to protect them from predators if their nests have been found.

Do Hedgehogs Live In Groups With Their Babies?

Hedgehog With Babies

So we have established that hedgehogs are solitary creatures. They much prefer their own company, and will choose to be alone. But do hedgehogs live in groups with their babies? The answer to this is yes. This is really the only time that hedgehogs will live in groups.

Hedgehogs can attract each other during the mating season by giving off a specific scent. They will then use their excellent sense of smell to seek each other out.

Once hedgehogs have mated, they do not hang around together any more than this. Some might say the male hedgehog has it easy. He has his fun and off he wanders, probably in search of more food or a nice place to sleep.

This leaves the female to raise the baby on her own. So in terms of living together in groups, hedgehogs will absolutely not live together as a family. There have been one or two cited cases where the boar has stayed on with a family, but this appears to be extremely rare.

In one of the cases of this happening, the male hedgehog was removed form the nest. Male hedgehogs will often eat their babies if they are together, and so they are best kept apart.

A female hedgehog can have up to two litters a year. Each litter will normally comprise of between 4 and 6 babies. It is possible to have up to ten hoglets in a litter. Hedgehogs are only pregnant for around 35 days. Now they get a raw deal at being abandoned by the dad, but at least pregnancy only lasts for 35 days!

When a female hedgehog is pregnant she will set up a ‘maternity nest’ that will have space for her and the hoglets. Once they are born, the mother and hoglets will live together in this nest. This is the only real example of hedgehogs living together in groups.

This doesn’t last for too long though. A baby hedgehog will leave home after around 6 to 8 weeks. Once they are strong enough to go out and fend for themselves against other garden dwellers such as rats that may want to attack hedgehogs, they will go off to live the solitary life of a hedgehog.

Baby hedgehogs may stay with their mother in groups for longer depending on the time of year. If it is getting close to winter, and they might not survive on their own, they will stay on longer to hibernate together.

If a hedgehog nest is disturbed and there are babies inside, the mother may abandon them as a result. It is always best to leave a nest alone. Especially if you know there is a litter inside. Hedgehogs don’t normally attack humans, but they will hiss and can bite if you get near to their nest and there are babies in there.

There is evidence to suggest that when hoglets are taken away from their mothers and siblings, they can experience anxiety.

Do Hedgehogs Live In Groups In Captivity?

Do Hedgehogs Live In Groups In Captivity
Hatem Moushir, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many people these days choose to keep hedgehogs as pets. They are very easy animals to keep. They don’t require much exercise, and they certainly don’t make too much noise. Do hedgehogs live in groups in captivity, and is this something you should do?

It is still recommended that if you have pet hedgehogs, you should keep them alone. As with hedgehogs in the wild, there is absolutely no need for them to be kept together.

They are solitary creatures, and as such do like to be alone. It’s not like they need the company of another hedgehog to fulfil some kind of emotional need!

It is, however, possible to house more than one hedgehog together. There are some things you should know before you do this.

If you keep two hedgehogs together you should go with two females. Two males will fight with each other as they each seek to become the dominant male.

If you put a male and a female together they will either fight or the female will become pregnant. Such is life! If you do decide to put two hedgehogs together, they should be introduced to each other slowly.

If it appears they get along and can in fact live together, they should be housed with lots of space. If their living space is too cramped, this can also lead to fighting. Keep a close watch over them to make sure everything is going well. If they show signs of squealing or fighting, they should be separated.

Where Do Hedgehogs Live?

Hedgehogs are not particularly territorial. They don’t mark a spot and then continue to return there. As I said above, they may not return to the same nest every night during the summer and Autumn months. They do however follow regular patterns, and will usually visit the same gardens each night.

A hedgehog gets its name from the type of surroundings it enjoys. Places with hedges and woodlands are ideal for a hedgehog. Historically hedgehogs would mostly be found around farming areas. These provided great places to both nest and find food.

As the make-up of the countryside changed over time, so did a hedgehogs living environment. Farmlands have become less prevalent, and the types of land on a farm have changed also. There has also been the addition of pesticides, which are not good for hedgehogs.

All of this has seen a shift in hedgehogs over time moving to more urban areas. Gardens and parks have become the stomping ground for hedgehogs these days.

As more and more gardens make use of concrete or paved areas, hedgehogs have to get creative. You can often find hedgehogs nesting in places such as under sheds. Hedgehogs can swim, but ponds and pools in gardens can be dangerous for them as they often can’t climb back out.

Can You Have More Than One Hedgehog House In Your Garden?

Hedgehog House
You can have more than one hedgehog house in your garden.

Many people like to set up houses for hedgehogs in their garden. It may be that they live in an area well populated by hedgehogs, and so want to provide a safe space for them. If this is the case you may want to know if it’s possible to have more than one in your garden.

It is entirely possible to have more than one hoghouse or nesting spot in your garden. There are many examples of gardens where more than one hedgehog choses to build a nest. If you choose to build more than one of these in your garden, just make sure that they are as far apart as possible.

If you are leaving food out for hedgehogs, be sure to check that it is safe for them. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, meaning you should not leave milk out for them. Foods such as pumpkin is bad for hedgehogs. If you are not sure what to leave out, dry cat foods work well, and you can mix this with rice for hedgehogs to eat.

Summing Up

So do hedgehogs live in groups? No they do not. They are very definitely solitary creatures. Mums and dads don’t live together. The dad will leave once mating has finished.

The mother and her hoglets will live together until they around 6 to 8 weeks old. It is possible to keep pet hedgehogs together, although this may not always work out. There is also no need to do this, as they would still prefer to be alone.

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