How Long Does A Hedgehog Live?

People often tend to get confused when it comes to differentiating between a hedgehog and a porcupine. It's usually the spikes or the quills that sparks the confusion despite hedgehogs being much smaller in size.

This cute furball-like creature has been around for ages, mostly in Africa and Southern Europe. They are brown and cream in color with a small brown pointy face, embedded with tiny black eyes and nose.

Even though most species of these mammals are nocturnal and wildly, they're often preferred as pets. There are a total of 17 different species of hedgehogs; most have their distinctive habitats and characteristics.

There is a big difference between the lifespan of pet hedgehogs and ones that live on their own due to the vast difference in their environment and adaptability.

Development And Environmental Factors

Hedgehogs give birth around the beginning of summer and like to hibernate throughout the winter season. The baby hedgehogs are called hoglets.

After birth, the hoglets only drink their mother's milk for the first 3 or 4 weeks. As their spines haven’t finished growing yet, they have no means of protection and thus stay in the nest during this time.

Once their spines complete developing, hoglets move around with their mother for a few weeks; during which they learn to find food on their own. Finally, after two and a half months, they completely stop drinking milk and move onto solids. This affects their lifespan greatly.


In feral habitats, a combination of extreme weather conditions, predators and natural injuries contribute to a significantly reduced lifespan compared to a hedgehog living as a pet. Wild hedgehogs usually live around 2-3 years, although some do live to see their 6th or 7th year of life.

Things differ quite a bit when it comes to pet hedgehogs though. The most common species of hedgehogs that end up as pets are the African Pygmy – which tends to be smaller than wild hedgehogs.

But despite their size, due to being in human care; away from harsh weather and dangerous predators, they live quite a bit more than ones in the wild.

Pet hedgehogs tend to have an average lifespan of 3-6 years, although some can live up to 8 years. The way the hedgehog is kept and nurtured plays a big role in how long they live.

Eating Habits Of Hedgehogs

Their diet consists of insects, slugs, baby mice and varieties of worms – a typical insectivore. But it’s not limited to that only. It also eats eggs, beans carrots, fishes, basically anything that they come across – not a picky eater!

When it comes to pet hedgehogs, a diet high in protein should be provided to ensure they stay healthy. A canned cat or dog food with vegetables make a great diet for your pet. Their diet and proportion are dependent on how active the hedgehog is. It is important to cut down on proportions if the hedgehog turns fat.


Like any animal, the pet hedgehog fancies junk food too. Providing your pet with treats now and then to its conventional diet can bring variety. Bugs, crickets or a small part of your pizza could work as a great treat!

Regardless, a nutritious, well-balanced diet will ensure fewer health complications and a longer lifespan for a pet hedgehog.

Defense Mechanisms

Though hedgehogs have quills, unlike porcupines they are much friendlier and do not shoot their quills out at you in defense. The most damage they can do when under threat or stress is to twitch and jump around; trying to poke their quills into the skin of the person they feel attacked by.

It might seem tricky to deal with a distressed hedgehog but remember it is important to handle such situations delicately.


Another defense tactic is to curl into a ball, and no one can make them uncurl unless they want to. A prickly quill ball is sure cute but difficult to handle.

They are very good at camouflaging by licking and biting and then forming a frothy spit.

Ensuring The Longevity Of Your Hedgehog

Before adopting a hedgehog into your house as a pet, it's strongly recommended that you secure all the necessary arrangements have been made. A suitably sized cage needs to be prepared and cleaned at regular intervals.

Hygiene is essential to maintain your hedgehog's health so make sure to bath him properly with lukewarm water, using a soft brush to scrub his bristles. Another aspect crucial to a hedgehog's health, both mental and physical, is activity – which means playtime.

Make sure your pet is given a big enough environment to run around in and try to spend time with it whenever you can, so it feels lively. Playing with them will brighten their mood and ensure high spirits throughout the day.

It’s also good exercise which keeps it fit and healthy. Speaking of health, regular trips to the vet are not to be avoided at any cost – vaccines are as important for you as they are for your pet.

Things One Should Consider Before Having A Pet 

Just because hedgehogs are small and squeak around all day doesn't mean they don't require the effort to be raised properly. Like any pet, they too need lots of love, care and attention to grow and stay healthy.

From the moment you get a pet, it is your responsibility. Everything like making sure it has sufficient food, checking for any diseases and keeping it strong and healthy falls on your shoulders. You have to account for your pet through exams, vacations, and all sorts of emergencies.

A lot of commitment is required when it comes to handling a pet – it’s a fulltime job. You can’t just put the pet’s life on hold because you don’t feel like it.

So don’t just get one on an impulse. Make sure you’re putting considerable thought into it and following through with your commitment.

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