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Hedgehogs can get pregnant pretty easily, and it can be challenging to tell if they are pregnant as sometimes, they do not show any symptoms. But if your hedgehog got pregnant and she did show symptoms, what would they be? How would you be able to tell that she is pregnant?
If your hedgehog is pregnant, the first sign she will show is weight gain; she will also start eating her food faster and in larger quantities. She may be more sleepy than usual and will not be interested in playing with her toys, and she will begin building her nursery nest in her cage.
How long do hedgehog pregnancies last? What are the risks of pregnancy for your hedgehog? How can you help your hedgehog prepare for birth? Let us find out!
How to Tell if Your Hedgehog Is Pregnant
It is a well-known fact that it can be exceedingly challenging to tell if a hedgehog is pregnant or not. This is because a lot of the pregnancy signs they show usually do not mean anything on their own.
The signs of pregnancy can often be confused with symptoms of illness in your hedgehogs or even just be attributed to environmental changes that can affect your hedgehog.
Hedgehogs will also only begin to show signs of pregnancy a few weeks into pregnancy, so your hedgehog may be further along than you expect. But there are some signs of pregnancy you can watch for in your hedgehogs if you think your female might be pregnant. Let us go through these signs.
Did You Breed Your Hedgehog?
Hedgehogs have an estrus cycle, otherwise known as them going into heat. This cycle can be difficult to identify, especially with a new hedgehog. This cycle is generally nine days on (when they can get pregnant) and seven days off (when they cannot get pregnant).
If you do not know the cycle of your female hedgehog and you place her in a cage with a male, you may have accidentally bred her. Or, if you do want to breed her, you need to leave her with the male for at least 20 days to complete a cycle while she is with the male.
This will increase your chances of breeding your female hedgehog. There are a few other signs that you can look out for that indicate pregnancy in female hedgehogs if you do not know for certain that your hedgehogs were bred.
Your Hedgehog Is Eating Faster and More Often
One of the first signs you need to be on the lookout for is any change in your hedgehog’s eating behavior. When a female hedgehog is pregnant, she will start to eat her meals faster than she used to, and she will still look for food when the food is finished.
You will notice that your female hedgehog will eat a larger amount of food in each sitting, and she may even become slightly aggressive to other hedgehogs around the food bowl if there is not enough to fill her up.
Your pregnant hedgehog will also change her eating schedule, and she may begin to come out during the day for food. This is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy in hedgehogs, and you will notice it between days 3 or 5 of pregnancy.
Your Hedgehog Is Gaining Weight
A very common sign of pregnancy in hedgehogs is weight gain; this is normal and happens to most animals when they are pregnant. If you have been keeping track of your hedgehog’s weight, then you should easily be able to notice a rise in their weight in your weekly weigh-ins.
However, the weight gain of your pregnant hedgehog can be extremely gradual, and you may be able to attribute it to something else if you notice it at all in the beginning.
The belly of the pregnant hedgehog usually only gets bigger and rounder late into the pregnancy, sometimes only happening in the last week of pregnancy. So, this sign is not usually something you should wait for when trying to figure out if your hedgehog is pregnant.
Your Hedgehog’s Nipples Have Enlarged
When a hedgehog is pregnant, her body will release different pregnancy hormones to help her get ready for looking after and nursing her hoglets. This will eventually cause her nipples or teats to become larger and more obvious when you look at her.
However, this is something that you cannot attribute 100% to pregnancy with your female hedgehog, as this can also happen if your hedgehog is just overweight. And this sign of pregnancy will only appear in your hedgehog when she is close to giving birth, so it can take a while to notice, just like the weight gain.
Your Hedgehog’s Urine Smells
Due to the pregnancy hormones released in the female hedgehog’s body when she is pregnant, her urine will begin to smell. This smell will increase in strength the closer she gets to giving birth.
So, if you do not smell anything a few weeks after you suspect her pregnancy, then she may not be pregnant. The pregnancy hormone in the hedgehog’s body will make the odor of her urine very noticeable; it will be stronger and sharper in smell.
As the hedgehog’s pregnancy progresses, you will be able to easily smell her urine as you just walk past her enclosure; it will be that strong.
Your Hedgehog Is Sleeping More
When your female hedgehog is pregnant, she will become increasingly tired as the pregnancy progresses. You may notice that she plays with her toys less or spends less time on her wheel than she used to.
Then as she gets closer to giving birth, she will show signs of lethargy, and she will begin to sleep more as her body tries to support the last bit of growth the unborn hoglets still have to do.
This lethargy in pregnancy can be confused with a sign of illness or overheating in hedgehogs, too, so be sure that this symptom is paired with other signs of pregnancy; if it is not, you may need to take your hedgehog to the vet.
Your Hedgehog Is Nesting
The most telling and noticeable sign that your female hedgehog is pregnant is if she begins to build a nursery nest. The nursery nest she makes will look similar to the nest that hedgehogs build to hide in through winter or for their hibernation.
The only difference is that the nursery nest will be bigger to allow enough space for the new hoglets to grow comfortably. Your pregnant hedgehog will search for materials that she can make her nest from, and she will spend most of her time working on the nest.
Your pregnant hedgehog will also begin to build her nursery nest from when she is a few days or one week pregnant, and she will continue to make it throughout her pregnancy.
You Feel the Hoglets in Your Hedgehog’s Stomach
If you are still unsure whether your hedgehog is pregnant or not, you can carefully check the hedgehog’s stomach and see if you can feel the hoglets. To do this, you need to gently pick your hedgehog up and carefully palpate her stomach with one finger.
If your hedgehog is pregnant and far enough along in her pregnancy, you should be able to feel a lump in her stomach area that is not present in your other hedgehogs. This lump may be the hoglets, so you need to ensure you are extremely careful when feeling them.
It is best to do this pregnancy check about twenty days after the female was with a male hedgehog, as the hoglets will be easier to feel, and they will be strong enough to handle the stress that this pregnancy check may place on them.
How Long Do Hedgehogs Stay Pregnant?
Hedgehogs have a relatively fast gestation period, with their pregnancy usually lasting between 32 and 36 days. So, if you notice most of the other pregnancy signs mentioned above, your hedgehog may nearly be ready to give birth.
Do Hedgehogs Lay Eggs?
Hedgehogs are a type of animal called a mammal. Mammals cover a wide variety of animal species that live on the earth today, including humans. Mammals do not lay eggs, but they give birth to live young.
So, a hedgehog will give birth to live young, and they generally give birth to a litter of five or six little hoglets at a time, and hedgehog will usually only have one litter of hoglets per year.
What Are the Pregnancy Risks for A Hedgehog?
Breeding your female hedgehog does involve some risks, not only to the mother but to the hoglets as well, that you need to be aware of. Whether you intentionally bred your hedgehog or by accident, you need to prepare for these risks.
When breeding your female hedgehogs, you need to keep in mind the age of the hedgehog. If she is too young or quite old, the hoglets have a higher risk of dying at birth. If the mother is younger or older, she may also cannibalize her hoglets due to stress.
If your hedgehog is too young or too old when you breed her, this could also pose a threat to her life. Several complications can arise during birth that can prove fatal for the mother.
Some of these risks include the mother hemorrhaging during birth, which can lead to extreme blood loss for the mother, killing her. Another risk is that the hoglet could get stuck in the mother’s birth canal, with can cause the mother to go into shock; this can kill both the mom and hoglet.
If your hedgehog is pregnant and you do not have experience breeding hedgehogs, then you need to consult with an experienced breeder for help when your hedgehog is pregnant and giving birth.
You can speak to your local vet as they may be able to help you and your pregnant hedgehog through this process.
How to Help Your Pregnant Hedgehog Prepare for Birth
There are lots of things that you can do to help your hedgehog prepare for the birth of her little hoglets. These preparations are easy and will make all the difference to your pregnant hedgehog as she goes through her pregnancy.
Here is what you can do to help your pregnant hedgehog prepare for birth:
- Ensure that your pregnant hedgehog gets plenty of food.
- Help gather materials that she can build her nursery nest with and place them in her cage to use; this will help keep her stress levels down.
- Separate her from your other hedgehog’s if they start to get aggressive with her during early pregnancy.
- Before it is time for her to give birth, if any hedgehogs are still in the cage with her, relocate them to a different cage to provide the mom with space and privacy to give birth in peace.
- Keep the mother as relaxed as possible by keeping her in a quiet room and not disturbing her unless you give her fresh food and water and ensure that she is still healthy.
How Long Do Hedgehogs Nest For?
Once the mother hedgehog gives birth, she will stay in her nest with her new hoglets for between four and six weeks. The first ten days after birth are the most crucial for the mother and hoglets.
During the first ten days, you must not disturb the mother and hoglets in any way as this could stress the mom, and she may eat her babies if she is stressed. After the ten days, you can start checking in on her and the hoglets daily.
At six weeks after birth, the hoglets will be slightly independent of the mom, and they will begin to follow her out of the nest when she goes looking for food and water. After this, the mother hedgehog and her hoglets will start to wander around the cage more.
There are lots of symptoms you can watch for that can indicate that your hedgehog is pregnant. However, it can be challenging to tell as they have such a short gestation period and usually only show signs of pregnancy when they are almost getting ready to give birth.
However, if you are observant enough and keep track of your hedgehogs properly, you should be able to tell if your hedgehog is pregnant quite fast, and you can begin helping her prepare for the birth. Good luck with your hedgehog!