Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Hedgehog Life Cycle

Hedgehogs live solitary lives (except females when with their young)Hedgehog 15
and on meeting will snort at each other and usually run away. Sometimes they react with aggression and may fight, charging, head-butting and attempting to push each other backwards.

When encountering a possible mate, the male will repeatedly circle the female, with much snorting and snuffling. This may continue for a long time, even several hours, until the female accepts him or he gives up and she runs off.

Gestation lasts 31 to 35 days and the (usually 4 or 5) young are born with spines just under the skin. The spines are modified hairs.

The young are fed solely on milk for about a month and then follow their mother on trips out of the nest to look for other food. They are weaned at about 2 months. The male plays no part in their upbringing.

Hedgehogs will eat many things: fruit, carrion, bread, scraps under the bird table, meat scraps and biscuits, as well as insects, worms and molluscs.

Hedgehogs sometimes have fleas but these are not usually picked up by dogs and cats and are fairly specific to hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs are not particularly frightened of humans and will learn to tolerate human company in the garden. They will even venture into the house if they smell pet food.

Their eyesight is poor but sudden movement or noise will startle hedgehogs and they will usually run away - surprisingly fast! Of course, they can also roll up into a very prickly ball if they feel really threatened.


Hedgehog © Tom Marshall