Hedgehogs and Their Sleeping Behavior (In The Wild and Captivity)

Hedgehogs are small mammals with cone-shaped faces, porcupine-like quills, and short legs. These spiny animals are known for their elusive behavior in the wild.

Because they are solitary animals and usually avoid people, seeing one resting in the wild is quite rare. Let’s learn more about their sleeping behavior and how these cute creatures rest in the wild.

How Much Do Hedgehogs Sleep?

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Hedgehogs sleep 12 to 14 hours daily during average weather conditions. However, they are extremely sensitive to sudden changes in temperature.

During colder weather, they can spend up to 18 hours of their day sleeping.

In winter will only be awake for 6 to 8 hours per day. By extending their sleeping period, they will conserve a lot of energy needed for foraging for food. Before dawn, they will return to their nests to rest again. This is a normal part of their sleeping pattern.

On the other hand, in the summer, hedgehogs sleep significantly less.

Why Do Hedgehogs Sleep So Much?

Hedgehogs love their sleep and will do so all day long! They do not just love their sleep because it is a relaxing way to pass the time. In fact, hedgehogs sleep for several important reasons.

All mammals need to sleep to rewind, reset the clock, but also develop the brain. The same is true for hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs also utilize sleep strategically in the form of hibernation when they believe their lives are threatened because of extreme cold or a lack of food.

Hibernation takes a great deal of energy and can be life-threatening if prolonged. For pet hedgehogs, it should therefore be avoided at all costs.

How The Temperature Plays A Role For Hedgehogs’ Sleeping Patterns

Hedgehogs are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations which is why hedgehogs may be more active whereas in winter they may require more sleep so they can avoid the cold weather.

As a hedgehog owner, you should be prepared for your little friend to have a strange sleep schedule and prevent hibernation at all times.

Vitals For Sleeping Hedgies

A sleeping hedgehog should have a warm belly and a resting heart rate of around 140-150 beats per minute! Ideally, their cage should be between 72°F-80°F and they should have a normal body temperature of around 98°F.  

Do Hedgehogs Sleep Mostly During The Day Or At Night?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal and sleep mostly during the day. There are several reasons for this. Here are some of the major factors why they sleep during the day:

Hedgehogs Are Active During the Night to Avoid Predators

Hedgehogs stay safe during the day by hiding and resting in their nests. This allows them to avoid disturbance by predators. Their predators include large birds, badgers, and other carnivores.

Being Nocturnal Allows The Hedgehog To Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Hedgehogs are able to escape the heat of the day by sleeping in the comfort of their nests. They are extremely sensitive and cannot cope well with fluctuating temperatures.

The ideal temperature for optimal hedgehog living conditions is 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-27 degrees Celsius). If it’s too cold or too hot, they will prefer to stay in their nests if they can!

Hedgehog Senses Are More Adapted To The Dark

Hedgehogs have keen hearing and a well-developed sense of smell. Their poor eyesight is a little better at night as well. Hedgehogs can also better escape predators by running, swimming, or climbing at night because the darkness makes it more difficult for a predator to pursue the spiky animals.

When Do Hedgehogs Usually Go To Sleep? (And When Do They Wake?)

Hedgehogs use sunlight to judge whether it is time to sleep or wake up. While hedgehogs sleep in nests, light can still pass through because the nests are generally made of grass and twigs.

An additional indication is the temperature. The nighttime tends to be colder than the day. Since hedgehogs are sensitive to the changes in temperature, this helps them differentiate day from night. 

They will start to sleep once the sun begins to rise or during dawn. On the other hand, they will wake up and start their day during twilight or when it is entirely dark.

Are Hedgehogs Noisy at Night?

Hedgehogs do a lot of different activities throughout the night which can get pretty noisy. That is why most hedgie owners urge against putting their cage in your bedroom. 

I suggest finding a place for your quilled bestie that you can visit every day that will not disturb you or your housemates.

Also, consider this spot should be quiet and dark during the day so your hedgehog can get good rest during the day! 

Do Hedgehog Males Sleep The Same Amount As Females?

Male hedgehogs tend to sleep longer and enter hibernation stages earlier than females. This is because males don’t spend energy raising hoglets (baby hedgehogs). 

Males will have more time to forage and eat, reaching the suitable weight earlier. On the other hand, females are responsible for weaning and feeding their babies

Hoglets need constant nursing as they drink milk every 2-3 hours in their early stage of life. The mother hedgehog’s sleep is also constantly disturbed due to the constant noise that the hoglets make.  

Do Juvenile Hedgehogs Sleep As Much As Adults?

Hoglets sleep more than adults as they can sleep for 20 to 23 hours per day. They sleep more to help develop their rapidly growing bodies. On the contrary, adults sleep less because they need to move around and forage for food.   

Typically, infant hedgehogs will sleep for a few hours, wake up to be fed by their mothers, and then return to sleeping. Their development process expends a great deal of energy, so sleeping is essential.

Do Hedgehogs Easily Wake From Their Sleep?

Hedgehogs are heavy sleepers who do not quickly wake from sleep. Their sleeping cycle should be continuous as they may exhibit negative behavior if disturbed.

Pet hedgehogs tend to become grumpy when their sleep is interrupted, and messing with their sleep schedule will make them upset and stressed out. Regardless, in the wild, it is very rare for their sleep to be disturbed during the day.

Where Do Hedgehogs Sleep?

Hedgehogs sleep in a nest. To build a cozy nest for themselves, they will put together whatever dead leaves they can find, or they will find a good nesting spot in hedgerows, piles of hay or logs, or thick bushes.

In the wild, they like to sleep in areas with vegetation, which in some cases can be similar to a backyard. The best habitats for them are places with tall grass and plants, including woodlands and residential gardens. 

What Does A Hedgehog Nest Look Like?

A hedgehog nest is constructed using a mixture of leaves, grass, and other plant materials. The structure of their nests varies differently based on their use. Here are some of the types of nests that hedgehogs use as their home:

Spring and Summer Nests

This kind of nest is loosely constructed and typically features a central hole or entrance, two to three times larger than the hedgehog.  

This will serve as their regular or daily nest.

Summer nests usually resemble loosely raked leaf piles, and this “loose” structure helps hedgehogs to keep their homes ventilated and cool. Unsuspecting yard owners trying to clean their garden might accidentally disrupt these creatures’ homes, so it is important to be cautious. 

Winter or Hibernation Nests

The winter nests have a more compact structure, and the materials are carefully positioned to create an insulated, waterproof shelter. Compared to summer nests, these are tightly woven walls made to handle winter temperatures specifically.

Hedgehogs can also be found nesting in tree hollows during winter. Sometimes, they prefer to dig 2.5 feet burrows to serve as their fortress during the harsh weather.

Breeding Nests

The structure of the hedgehog’s breeding nests is similar to their summer nests but is arranged more carefully and lined with long grass. 

They will begin to build their breeding nests in May. Future mothers ensure that their breeding nests are waterproof and warm to make their young comfortable and able to grow in a good environment.

Artificial Nests

Due to the declining population of rural hedgehogs, humans help encourage these mammals by building them artificial nests. They construct these nests using plastic, wood, and brick materials. These can serve as both winter nests and their regular nests.

Where In My Garden Might Hedgehogs Sleep?

To ensure that they won’t be disturbed, hedgehogs establish their nests in a quiet area of the garden, preferably beneath a shrub or hedge, by a compost pile, or somewhere else with adequate cover. 

Hedgehogs use leaf piles as bedding material for existing nests or the pile might be converted into new nests altogether.

If you want to encourage hedgehogs in your garden, it’s always a good idea to provide them with plenty of dense vegetation and different lengths of grass to hide and build nests.

Do Hedgehogs Sleep The Same Place Every Night?

Although hedgehogs are not territorial, they appear to have a schedule, visiting the same gardens and even particular locations at around the same time every night.

They appear to have a routine, going to the same nest and even places at about the same time every day. But they can also relocate and build a new nest if the peaceful environment of the previous one is disturbed.

Hedgehogs And Their Sleeping Positions 

There are many amazing things you probably did not know about hedgehogs and their fantastic sleeping positions, like how two friendly female hedgehogs will curl up together at night, or the way a pet hedgehog lying on its back while it sleeps is a sign of trust for its owner. 

A hedgehog’s sleeping position says a lot about their personality, health, and even what they think about you! 

No matter what, hedgehogs are prey and have the instinct to retreat automatically when woken up without warning. 

Hedgehogs do not like to be woken up while sleeping so unless it is absolutely necessary, you should avoid waking up your hedgehog or moving your hedgehog in the middle of the day. 

Moving a sleeping hedgehog will likely startle your little prickly pet and will make gaining their trust more difficult. So, just leave them alone while they sleep! 

Hedgehogs Sometimes Sleep Curled Up 

Hedgehogs often curl up when they sleep as a defense mechanism.

Sleeping is a hedgehog’s most vulnerable state and not to mention they do it during broad daylight. That is why a hedgehog’s natural instinct is to bare their spines while they sleep so they can repel curious (or hungry) predators. 

Luckily, as pet hedgehogs get comfortable with their owners and grow more accustomed to their life in captivity, they lower their defenses! 

Hedgehogs Sleeping on Their Backs 

Hedgehogs will sleep on their backs and stomachs when they are comfortable with their surroundings. This tends to happen in their adult years after they have familiarized themselves with their owners and their enclosure!  

Sleeping on their backs is a clear sign that they have accepted you and trust that you are not a threat to them. Take this as a true sign of endearment, if you will!  

Hedgehogs and Sleeping Locations 

Interestingly enough, hedgehogs are known for sleeping in different places almost every night. They aren’t really territorial and therefore not attached to a specific place. Each hedgehog has their own bedding preference, and they never get tired of one place soon enough! 

Hedgehog Nests

Hedgehogs love to make nests inside hideaways but that does not mean they will stay there each night! They want something fresh and new which is why having plenty of bedding options is essential! 

A proper hideaway for your hedgehog should be 3 x 4 inches. Anything other than 3 x 4 inches or size “small” at your local pet retailer, is inadequate for your hedgehog.

They may feel unsafe in something that is too large and may not even fit inside a hideaway that is too small! 

Pet Hedgehogs and Sleeping Location Problems 

Sleeping problems are a common occurrence, especially after every weekly (or every other week) cage clean. They can also be issues when introducing new hedgies to your environment! 

Blocked entrance 

If you like to move your hideout around, you might accidentally block their door which prevents them from getting inside. Just find the issue and unblock it.  

Remember, in the future, always double-check that everything is available to your hedgehog. That means access to the entrance of their den and much more! If they cannot get to their home, this can easily set off their sleep schedule and cause great distress 

Territory Issues 

Similarly, if you added a new hedgehog to their environment, you should monitor your hedgehogs closely to see if there are territorial issues. Sometimes, one hedgehog drives the other out of the hideaway.  

This is not always true since hedgehogs have their own preferences. Watch their behavior in passing and determine whether they are friendly and solitary or combative and in need of separation!  

Temperature 

Hedgehogs like to sleep wherever they can protect themselves, so it is not unusual to find them curled up in unusual places. An insulated shoe, next to a cold water bottle, on the granite countertop, and so forth.  

If your hedgie thinks it is a great spot to keep their temperature balanced, they will utilize it. But when you see them out in the open that is an obvious indication that something is wrong!

Hedgehogs never let themselves be vulnerable. This vulnerability can be a sign that they need help, and are in pain. Essentially, they are crying for help! 

Uncomfortable Environment 

In other cases, you might find your hedgie in peculiar spots like their litter box and this may be because they do not find their cage comfortable. 

To help your hedgehog build a more comfortable den you can try giving them materials like clothing scraps and newspaper clippings. Or you can go ahead and redesign the interior of their hideaway yourself.   

No matter what, it is important to find the right bedding for your hedgehog and get them to the right comfort level temperature-wise and with their house! 

Hedgehogs and Sleeping Problems 

There are many sleep problems that your precious, prickly pet can be experiencing. If they sleep through the night, you should pay close attention, because being nocturnal animals, they really should be active at night.

Nighttime is your hedgehog’s stay awake time to “hunt” so when they aren’t awake at night, your first call should be looking to their food dish for any signs of not eating.  

Hibernation 

If your hedgie is sleeping through the night, this may be the sign of it going into hibernation and you should work to find the cause immediately.

The most common cause of hedgehogs going into hibernation is low temperatures. Check the temperature of your cage and see whether it is adequate for your hedgehog.  

Excessive weather conditions like low temperatures are life-threatening to a hedgehog, which is why they go into their defensive hibernation state. Noticing this in its early stages like sleeping through the night is a good sign and can help save your hedgie! 

Q&A 

Do Hedgehogs Sometimes Sleep With Other Hedgehogs? 

Hedgehogs sleep in groups when housed together, however, hedgehogs prefer to live alone. Some hedgehogs actually don’t like sleeping in groups at all.

If your hedgies play during the day but sleep separately at night, that is completely normal and does not mean there are any sort of territorial issues happening. (Or that they just had an argument).   

All hedgies have their own sleeping preferences and whether they have company or not, your hedgies would still sleep according to their own comfort.

The togetherness of your hedgehogs can depend on the season, which may call for more warmth and thus more huddling together.   

Can I Sleep with My Hedgehog in My Bed? 

Sleeping in bed with your hedgehog is a great bonding opportunity! You can keep your prickly friend warm using your body heat and it is a cuddly experience for you! Do note, however, that hedgehogs are nocturnal and sleep during the day.

Can I Change My Hedgehog’s Sleeping Pattern? 

No! Never try to change your hedgehog’s sleep schedule! Altering the sleep habits of nocturnal animals for your own benefit is extremely harmful to their health. 

Can I Still Play with My Nocturnal Hedgehog? 

Yes! Hedgehogs are active from the late evening to the early morning hours. Pick a consistent time each day during the evening for bonding with your hedgehog. 

Do They Sleep Underground in The Wild? 

Some hedgehog species builddens underground to avoid predators while they sleep and hibernate. This is not true for every hedgehog though. In fact, some hedgehogs find bushes and grass sufficient! 

How To Know If It Is Sleeping or Hibernating? 

Start with the temperature of your hedgehog’s belly but be careful, they bite when startled! If their belly is cold, they are likely hibernating and if it is warm then they are probably just taking a nap. 

Do Hedgehogs Sometimes Sleep in The Open?

Hedgehogs don’t fall asleep in an open field. Usually, they can be found in nests or tall grass or in piles of logs or leaves. 

The first thing to do if you see a hedgehog in the open during daytime is to observe them for a while.

Depending on what you see, you may continue with the following procedure:

Assist an Immobile or Injured Hedgehog

If the hedgehog is laying out in the open, chances are that it is unwell and needs your assistance. It is important to remember that hedgehogs do not sleep under direct sunlight. Immediately help an immobile or injured hedgehog. 

The best way to help them is to gently pick them up and safely place them in a box with a towel to keep them warm. Make sure to provide water and a safe spot in the shade. 

Call a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian near your area to determine what to do next for the hedgehog.

Be Careful when Handling Juvenile Hedgehogs in The Open

Seeing a hoglet sleeping in the open is one of the most unusual sights you will find in the wild. This will only happen if their nest is destroyed or their mother is harmed. 

The first thing that you need to do is try to place the hoglets in a container. Do not handle the hoglets more than what is necessary because they cannot bear human scent that much. 

In addition, handling the hoglets too much might confuse the mother hedgehogs, and she might not recognize her babies. Gather the fragments of their nests that you can see in the area to make the babies more comfortable.

Line the container with newspaper or towels to keep them warm. Immediately call a rescue center or wildlife rehabilitators in your area. While waiting for instructions, continue to monitor if the mother hedgehog will return for her babies.

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