The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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What could possibly be better than a pet hedgehog? The answer is simple: TWO pet hedgehogs (or three, or more, we don’t judge!). But, if you have been enjoying the company of a hedgehog for a while, you may want to consider whether getting another is what your spiky baby would prefer.
Issues around breeding, defending territory, and fighting make us ask the question: Can hedgehogs live together?
Wild hedgehogs typically live alone and do not rely on other hedgehogs for survival. Hedgehogs in the wild tend to socialize only for mating purposes. Captive hedgehogs prefer to be alone too. Although it is possible to house hedgehogs together, it requires a fair amount of planning and patience to introduce them to each other.
Suppose you are wondering whether or not you should purchase two hedgehogs or an additional hedgehog to add to an existing pet enclosure. In that case, we are here to bring you all the facts. The what-ifs, the why’s, and the how-tos to whether or not hedgehogs can live together.
When considering whether or not to house hedgehogs together, it is crucial to consider the rights of the animals you want to adopt. Depending on where you live, violating animal rights could land you in a heap of trouble, especially if the animal is hurt or killed as a result of your decisions.
Endangering a pet could result in being prosecuted under the law and even the possibility of jail time.
Let’s look at what the primary animal rights are to be sure not to infringe on any while making the necessary decisions.
- Animal Rights for Your Hedgehog
There are five fundamental animal rights to keep in mind.
Hedgehogs and other animals have the right to:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury, and disease
- Freedom to express natural behavior
- Freedom from fear and distress
These rights are globally recognized. They ensure the well-being of animals, both mentally and physically.
Now that you know the rights of your hedgehog or hedgehogs let’s look a little more deeply into number four above. Understanding a hedgehog’s natural behaviors will allow you to ensure that you provide just that when designing housing for your pet or pets.
Their Natural Behavior
In the wild, hedgehogs come together for one main reason. To mate. Once they have mated, the male hedgehog (boar) will leave the female (sow). She will give birth and raise the babies (hoglets) alone.
Hedgehog siblings do not stay together or with their mother for long either. Once they have reached maturity, at around six weeks old, they begin to join the mother hedgehog on foraging excursions. When they are strong enough, they will leave their mother to live and hunt alone.
Hedgehogs tend to fight for two main reasons. Males will fight with each other to defend their territory. They will also fight each other during mating season. This is to gain dominance over a particular female in heat. Although this is the case in the wild, the same behavior is often found in captivity.
If you are considering housing hedgehogs together, it will serve you well to remember that they do not typically live with each other in the wild. Allowing your animals the freedom to express their natural behavior may include housing your hedgehogs separately.
Setting Up an Enclosure
Suppose you are intent on keeping more than one hedgehog. In that case, you will need an enclosure that will ensure the safety and happiness of your pets. Let’s have a look at what makes a perfect enclosure for a happy and healthy hedgehog or two.
What Material Should Be Used for My Hedgehog Enclosure?
The best material to use for a hedgehog enclosure is a glass fish tank. Hedgehogs are notoriously good climbers, so be sure not to use a material that your pet can climb up and escape from. If you are unable to get a glass fish tank, any smooth material should do the trick.
How Big Should My Hedgehog Enclosure Be?
Hedgehogs need enough space to run and walk in. The minimum floor area of the enclosure should be around 2×3 feet. If you are looking at using a fish tank, go for one that is 30 gallons or more.
It is acceptable to use a cage if you wish. However, if you are considering using a cage, get one as big as possible. Do not select a cage with a wire floor, as your hedgehog’s feet can get caught and stuck in the spaces between the wire. A plastic floor is a better option.
What Should I Put in My Hedgehog Enclosure?
Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal animals. That means that they will be primarily awake at night.
For that reason, they do not like bright lights and need places to hide during the day.
Some shade-giving items to place in the enclosure include:
- Plastic log
- Plastic pipe
- Tightly woven fabric bag
- Plant pot
All of these, or anything similar, will give your hedgehog a few options for hiding places.
Whenever you are selecting an item to place in your hedgehog enclosure, check the object for safety. Hedgehogs have small feet that can get caught in tiny spaces, including in loosely woven fabric.
Hedgehogs enjoy running on a wheel designed specifically for them, so you may wish to include one for your pet. They do not tend to play with toys; however, some have been known to enjoy a squeaky toy, so that could be a fun addition.
Some hedgehogs may use a litter tray; however, most will relieve themselves wherever they like, so this is a personal choice you will need to make for you and your pet.
Do place some soft bedding materials, like shredded newspaper, in the enclosure to allow your pet to make a warm and comfy bed for itself.
Should My Hedgehog Enclosure Be Heated?
Hedgehogs are not the best at maintaining body warmth. When they are babies, they rely entirely on their mothers and siblings for body heat. Adult hedgehogs seem to thrive at around 70-85°F.
If the temperature in your house is lower than that, you will need to provide additional heating.
Placing a heating device at one end of the enclosure should be sufficient to keep your hedgehog warm during those cold days and nights.
Preparing the Space for Two
If you are incredibly keen or have no choice other than to have more than one hedgehog, follow the tips we are about to share. The process of introducing hedgehogs to each other should be slow and careful.
The best pairing of pet hedgehogs is two females. They are the least likely to fight with each other, though it is not guaranteed that they will get along. Another pairing that sometimes works is a young hedgehog with an older one. Placing two males together will result in fights over the territory and for dominance.
Stay away from male-female pairings unless you are specifically looking to breed your hedgehogs. Male-female combinations will result in hoglets and/or fights after even a few minutes together.
How Big Should the Enclosure Be for Two Hedgehogs?
If you plan on having your hedgehogs share an enclosure, it will need to be big enough to give them both adequate space. The floor space should be at least 2×4 feet. Food bowls, toys, and sleeping areas should be far apart to avoid fights.
Introducing Them To Each Other
The process of introducing new roommates should be slow and careful. Take time to ease the hedgehogs into the idea of their new companion. This will also allow you to check to see if they will, in fact, be able to tolerate each other and live harmoniously together.
Always keep in mind that hedgehogs do not naturally live with each other, so be prepared to adapt the plan and house them separately should they not be willing to co-exist.
Here is a step-by-step guide to introducing hedgehogs to each other. Always follow the lead of the animals and trust your gut for the very best results.
- If you are introducing a new hedgehog to an existing pet, keep the new animal quarantined for about a month. House the new animal in a separate cage, and in a different room if possible. Wash your hands and clothes thoroughly between handling the two hedgehogs.
- After quarantine, place the cages side-by-side for a few days. This will help the hedgehogs to acclimatize to each other’s scents and presence.
- Host a few playdates outside of the cages, in neutral territory. Keep a watchful eye to see if they will get along.
- When you feel confident, place them in the same cage. Watch them closely for at least a few days. Be alert to any signs of aggression, like squealing and fighting. Mild nudging and sniffling of each other are acceptable. Remember that fighting can lead to severe injury or death, so this must be avoided at all costs.
- If your hedgehogs are not getting along, you will need to house them separately.
While it is better to house one hedgehog per enclosure, there are numerous happy accounts of hedgehogs sharing a living space and thriving with each other. Consider the rights of your pet when making decisions that could endanger them, and be sure to give your hedgehogs the best home possible.
Whether your hedgehogs live in separate enclosures that are close together or in one enclosure, enjoy your little bundles of prickly joy. Watch for any signs of a fight but love every minute of adorable pleasure that only a hedgehog owner can know.