Sometimes your Hedgehog may be hibernating. This can happen to Hedgehogs, but how healthy is it for them? Do they do this regularly? How do you wake up a hibernating Hedgehog?
This is what I went around and asked and researched since I have a Hedgehog. He’s been safe so far, never needed to hibernate. But I wanted to know what to do to save him if I needed to. So, now you get the info too.
Hedgehogs are used to warmer climates, so in the winter months, they must sleep to avoid the cold weather. This is called hibernation. They are not asleep as they would be at night, but instead, they cannot be awoken, and all their activity slows down ultimately.
Continue to read the article to understand more about Hedgehogs and hibernation in detail.
Do Hedgehogs Hibernate?
Hedgehogs do hibernate. This means that the ambient temperature must be below 5°C/ 41°F for a minimum of 24 hours for the hibernation to set in.
All breeds of Hedgehogs are capable of hibernation. This happens much less with pet Hedgehogs because they have a stable habitat than wild Hedgehogs.
Pet Hedgehogs kept in warm homes never need to face the cold, so they will not hibernate naturally. But they will if you expose them to very cold temperatures.
What Triggers Hedgehog Hibernation?
Hedgehogs are known to hibernate to survive the cold. Hedgehogs are not meant to stay awake below a specific temperature.
With the drop in temperature, a Hedgehog’s metabolism and heart rate slow down. They use much less energy.
Hedgehogs can sleep their way through winter while hibernating. However, it can be dangerous. If the hibernation lasts long, it will dehydrate and famish your Hedgehogs.
On the contrary, hibernation does have some benefits as well. Continue to read the article to learn more about Hedgehogs and hibernation.
How Do You Know If Your Hedgehog Is Hibernating?
A hibernating Hedgehog will be cold and not moving. You will notice that your pet will be mostly curled up in a corner of the cage during this time.
You will see that there are no signs of life. His food and water will remain untouched.
A hibernating Hedgehog will be pretty noticeable. However, it is extremely important to figure out if he is just hibernating or has passed away.
Below are a few signs that will help you figure out the same.
- Check your Hedgehog’s breathing: You will see that your pet’s breathing is shallow and irregular. Sometimes the breathes might even be a minute or two apart. You need to watch your Hedgehog very carefully. See if his belly moves up and down, or use a mirror.
- Try to hear your Hedgehog’s heartbeat: You will notice that your pet’s heart beats are incredibly faint. You can check this with a stethoscope (if you have one just lying around the house). Another way is to just hold him up to your ear and keep him there for a few minutes. Again, the beats will be very faint, but they will be there.
- Stroke his body: You might have to look very carefully, but the Hedgehog’s body will move slightly when you touch them.
- Try moving your Hedgehog’s paws: There might be some resistance, but his paws should be able to move. If they’re a bit stiff, that’s okay, it happens when his body gets very cold. However, as long as it can move without you putting too much effort, your Hedgehog is fine.
How To Wake Up A Hibernating Hedgehog?
While waking up your Hedgehog from hibernation, it is essential not to be sudden when waking up your hibernating Hedgehog.
The process should be done slowly and gently to simulate the natural way a Hedgehog wakes out of hibernation.
Pick Up Your Hedgehog And Massage Him
Start by picking up your Hedgehog gently, then give him a good massage. Do that softly.
This will help your Hedgehog’s blood circulation and slowly warm up your pet’s body. You might even have to do this for an hour.
However, the massage needs not be continuous.
After a few hours of being warmed by you, you will see that your Hedgehog will wake up on his own.
Try To Raise The Temperature Around Your Hedgehog
The temperature around your Hedgehog’s enclosure is crucial. You can choose to turn up the thermostat or move your pet’s cage to a warmer room.
You can also use a warm(not hot) water bottle to close the Hedgehog to warm him up.
Never Use Direct Heat On Your Hedgehog To Wake Him Up
Never place your Hedgehog on a heater or anywhere very hot in an attempt to wake him up faster. If you raise the temperature around him, he will wake up alone.
Also, do not use a blow dryer on the Hedgehog to wake him up. Any sudden temperature change will only get your Hedgehog into another kind of trouble, requiring more treatment and care than hibernation.
Contact Your Veterinarian
The best option is to call your vet. This might be the safest route if you’re unsure what to do.
Maybe you’ve tried everything and just can’t seem to wake your Hedgehog. Contact your vet, and bring your Hedgehog in for a check-up.
How To Care For A Hedgehog That Just Woke Up From Hibernation?
Once your Hedgehog has woken up, you must do a few things.
First, your Hedgehog will be dehydrated since he did not drink water. Therefore, provide him with fresh, clean water. If he has a water bottle, he will use that on his own.
However, if your Hedgehog is still moving very slowly, you can use an eye dropper or syringe to give him a few drops of water every few minutes to ensure he gets some water.
As for the food, your Hedgehog will need something easy to digest and very filling. For example, a small piece of cooked chicken will suffice.
Then continue feeding him as usual. If the chicken is a bit warm, that’s even better since it will help warm your Hedgehog up.
How To Prevent Hibernation In Hedgehogs?
To prevent your Hedgehog from hibernating, you can do the following:
- Provide your Hedgehog with clean, warm bedding.
- Keeping the ambient temperature in the Hedgehog’s room between 75°F-85°F (24°C- 30°C).
- Not moving the Hedgehog or his cage unless you need to, like moving house. In most cases, he can be left home and checked by a friend or neighbor. No point in bringing the Hedgehog out into the cold.
- Providing your Hedgehog with good, safe food. Scarce food will bring on hibernation much faster.
Do Hedgehogs Curl Up When Hibernating?
In general, domesticated Hedgehogs do not hibernate.
It can be tough to find out if your Hedgehog is hibernating if you have never seen one.
Although the curling of a Hedgehog is a healthy indication, it can prove to be troubling if your Hedgehog stays curled for too long.
If your Hedgehog stays curled for too long, you must not leave it alone. Instead, immediately check your pet’s temperature.
Also, check the temperature of the room. It is essential to keep the temperature warm as any drop in temperate may cause your pet to hibernate.
You might be wondering why domesticated Hedgehogs should not hibernate while the ones living in the wild do.
The answer is that Hedgehogs living in the wild have the appropriate diet to survive hibernation. On the other hand, domesticated Hedgehogs do not have the right fat content and energy.
Therefore, if your pet Hedgehog attempts to hibernate, you must do your best to keep it warm. Also, keep a keen eye on your pet during this period, as it can be fatal.
Sometimes, Hedgehog owners even confuse a hibernating Hedgehog with a dead one.
When a Hedgehog is hibernating, it will curl itself into a ball and start to breathe slowly.
However, Hedgehogs naturally do not die when curled. Therefore, checking your Hedgehog’s breathing is essential if you ever find it curled instead of presuming it is dead.
Do Hedgehogs Eat When Hibernating?
Hedgehogs generally do not eat, drink, defecate, or urinate during hibernation. They use very little energy.
Can A Hedgehog Die From Hibernation?
If a Hedgehog has been hibernating for longer than usual, I recommend taking the Hedgehog to a vet.
You need to take special care of the pet, especially if they have not prepared for hibernation. An unprepared Hedgehog may end up being dehydrated or may become malnourished.