As a hedgehog parent, you’ll witness all sorts of sleep behavior, especially if you’re a first-time hedgehog owner.
You’ll find yourself wondering if it ever wakes up! Hedgehogs seem to sleep most of the day and most of the night.
Are hedgehogs nocturnal? This guide will break down your hedgehog’s sleep pattern and delve deep into their character, so that you fully understand your pet’s behavior and be able to bond with it.
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Are Hedgehogs Nocturnal?
Hedgehogs are big sleepers; they sleep up to 18 hours per day. It’s normal to find them overlapping day and night in a single sleep cycle. This leaves them with 6 hours per day to perform their hedgehog activities. These activities, as you probably have guessed, revolve around finding food, and then pooping this food out.
Hedgehogs are mainly nocturnal. They wake up around evening. You’ll find them curled up and sleeping in bushes, under a pile of leaves, or any shaded area in your garden, where they can build their nests.
Thus, for anyone who might consider owning a hedgehog as a pet, you should be aware of what you’re signing up for, only 6 hours of petting. While some of you might be thankful for that, and even wish it was the same with their kids, others may find it annoying.
Why Do They Sleep So Much?
Our quill-filled friends are masters at falling asleep at any time and under any circumstances. Hedgehogs sleep primarily for 2 reasons: to protect themselves and, obviously, to rest.
Hedgehogs come from the families of the first mammals. These mammals, with ancestry that goes back millions of years, have long ago adapted to life at night for protection.
The Active Hours
Being nocturnal, hedgehogs will usually be active in dim light or with sunset. Therefore, when having a hedgehog, you have to be aware of the lighting conditions. Their cages shouldn’t be exposed to excessive light or they’ll have trouble sleeping. When it’s time for them to wake up, try to dim the light around.
Hedgehog Sleep Pattern
Hedgehogs need comfortable sleeping positions, since this is what they do most of their day. Usually, a hedgehog will sleep 18 hours straight without waking up.
However, its sleeping pattern depends on the surrounding environment and the hedgehog’s breed. Even those breeds that wake up in-between, all they do is eat and get back to sleep.
Take our advice and don’t try to wake up your hedgehog in the middle of its sleep, or it might get violent and even bring out its quills.
The hedgehogs’ sleeping patterns vary according to the weather as well. In summer, they love the warm weather and can sleep between 8 and 14 hours.
When they’re kept in an open area, they usually build their nests. In summer hedgehogs don’t return to the same nest, they sleep elsewhere for a couple of days, and then come back.
In winter, hedgehogs will sleep longer, up to 18 hours per day. That’s because they don’t prefer cold weather. They also sleep longer to conserve energy.
An important point to watch out for is that when hedgehogs hibernate, their body functions slow down greatly. Their heartbeat and body temperature drop drastically. So keep an eye on your hedgehog and don’t let it hibernate for a long time.
When They Wake Up, What Do They Do?
Hedgehogs are generally solitary animals. You won’t find them socializing with other hedgehogs. Even if you have more than one hedgehog, it is preferable to give them separate homes.
More specifically, only two females should be housed together.
However, when they’re awake, they can be quite playful and merry. Although it might take time, maybe months, hedgehogs eventually bond very well with their owners. Treats and games are essential when trying to build this relationship.
A normal hedgehog will spend its waking hours, which are usually in the evening, hunting for food and water. If you’re keeping it in a cage, make sure it finds food and water immediately when it wakes up.
What About Baby Hedgehogs?
The younger the hedgehog, the more it will sleep. In fact, baby hedgehogs can sleep up to 20 hours. This is because they’re still in the growing phase, pretty much similar to a human baby.
To help a baby hedgehog sleep better, you have to set up the perfect environment. Make sure to keep the temperature warm and maybe get them a blanket.
A Day in the Life of a Hedgehog
A typical day for hedgehogs would be to wake up around evening and have a little distemper at first before they are ready to play. Hedgehogs will probably need a nap after a short period of playing.
Whether it’s their cage, or your lap, hedgehogs will always look for somewhere to hide under and feel protected. Hiding it in your pockets is a great way to let your hedgehog be at ease while still spending time with you.
Throughout their waking hours, treats are a great way to bring hedgehogs out of their hiding. Maybe you can use a mealworm or tuna to tease them into playing with you.
After a while, they will learn your routine, and eventually, they will be happy to wake up and play. Just pay attention to the amount of treats, one or two are more than enough.
Hedgehogs love sleep — that’s what they do. It’s essential for them to take their sleep cycle uninterrupted, and not be disturbed. Otherwise, you may be causing them to exhibit less favorable traits.
Hedgehogs are great at learning patterns. You can set up a routine, let your hedgehog learn it and watch it adapt to this new environment.
This way you’ll have enough time to spend with your pet and for the hedgehog to have an uninterrupted sleep cycle. As long as they’re awake, make sure that food and water are always there.
This will let you bond with your hedgehog and enjoy each other’s company, and if you’re new to owning a hedgehog, don’t fret, let your pet take its time to cope with the new house and the new owner.