Hedgehog Life Cycle: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Learn how hedgehogs are born and grow up to have hoglets (hedgehog babies) of their own. Hedgehogs have their babies in early summer and like to hibernate, or sleep all the way through the cold weather, in the winter.

The Life Cycle of a Hedgehog

When you were a few weeks old, you were just a baby. You definitely couldn't get a job or go find your own food at that age. But hedgehogs are a lot quicker about growing up: just a few weeks after they're born, baby hedgehogs are already leaving their mothers and fending for themselves. In this lesson, you'll learn about the hedgehog life cycle, or how hedgehogs live at different ages.

Pregnancy and Babies

Human mothers are pregnant for about 9 months, but female hedgehogs are only pregnant for about one month. When they have their babies, hedgehogs usually have 4 or 5 babies at once. The baby hedgehogs are called hoglets.

For three or four weeks after they're born, the hoglets drink only their mother's milk, just like human babies can. They have to stay in the nest during this time because their spines haven't finished growing yet, so they have nothing to protect them from danger.

A hedgehog
Hedgehog

Once their spines are done growing, hoglets travel around with their mother for a few weeks. This is like school for the hoglets, but instead of learning to read and write, they're learning to find their own food. During this time, they keep drinking milk, but they also eat some solid food. Hedgehogs like to eat beetles, earthworms, and other insects. If they live around people, they'll also get into any food that people throw away.

After two months at the latest, hoglets completely stop nursing and eat solid food like adults. They leave their mothers and go off to live on their own.

Adulthood

Once they're two years old, hedgehogs can have hoglets of their own. Hedgehogs can mate and give birth at any time, but the period of highest breeding activity is in the early summer, with babies born mostly in June and July. This gives the hoglets time to grow up to their full adult weight before the winter. Babies born later in the year might not finish growing before the winter comes. Then they'd be too small to survive the cold winter temperatures.

Even adult hedgehogs are pretty small and babies are too small to survive the cold of the winter.
Hedgehog in human hands

Some mother hedgehogs have one litter of hoglets in early summer and a second litter of hoglets just as the hot weather is ending, but the hoglets in the second litter usually die in the winter because it's just too cold for them.

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