Hedgehog lifespan information is researched and asked about frequently among prospective owners. And this makes complete sense.
After all, it would be helpful to know how long a hedgehog lives if you’re going to get one right?
In this post you’ll learn everything there is to know about a normal hedgehog lifespan. How long they live, factors that can influence this, and more.
How long do hedgehogs live?
The average hedgehog lifespan is between 3-7 years for pets. There have been cases where pet hedgehogs have reached the 8-10 year range, but that’s rather uncommon.
In the wild, hedgehogs live to be around 2-3 years old. The reason for this massive difference in potential lifespan is because wild hedgehogs have to face predators (this is what ends the life of most of them) and a higher risk of disease and injury.
Next, we’ll explore the factors that influence a pet African pygmy hedgehog’s lifespan. These are all things that you can impact on some level, so understanding them can help you have more precious time with your hedgie.
What factors impact a hedgehog’s lifespan?
There are a large number of factors that can impact the lifespan of a hedgehog. Some of these are natural or genetic, and others are environmental.
Take some time to learn these so you can provide better care, and add valuable years to your hedgehog’s life. You would be surprised how beneficial it can be to look at everything through this lens.
We hear from a lot of potential owners who want to know what they can do to make sure their pet hedgehog has the best life expectancy as possible. But a lot of them assume that the genetic and natural component is out of their control.
Your choice of breeder plays a huge part in getting a hedgehog with a good genetic makeup. Good genetics serve as the foundation for your hedgehog’s ability to live a long healthy life.
A responsible breeder will use smart and ethical breeding practices to make sure their hedgehogs aren’t prone to health problems. Find a breeder that’s recommended by the community and knows their stuff.
If you neglect to do this there are a number of problems it will cause. You’ll own a hedgehog who has a lower life expectancy and more likely to become ill. They might still be cute and lovable, but this isn’t fair to them. Keeping bad breeders in business just causes more hedgehogs to suffer in the future.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a perfect system. Getting a hedgehog from a reputable breeder doesn’t mean that they’re guaranteed to have a long lifespan.
Congenital birth defects are always a possibility and you simply cannot account for the randomness of life.
Just like with humans (and any other animal), the quality of your hedgehog’s diet will dramatically impact its lifespan.
If your hedgehog isn’t getting the necessary vitamins and nutrients from their food there are a number of problems this can cause. Here are the most common ones:
- Developmental issues
- A weaker immune system
- Higher chance of getting diet-related illnesses
While we have a good idea what the best food for your hedgehog is, it’s not an exact science as of yet. Breeders and owners are still tweaking and experimenting with what they feed their hedgies to try and find the optimal nutritional intake.
The best thing you can do is follow the recommendations that the hedgehog community has tested over time, and use common sense when feeding your pet. That will help ensure that your hedgehog has the best chance to live as long as possible.
Amount of exercise
Hedgehogs are naturally very active creatures that need a good amount of exercise to thrive. Hedgehog lifespans can be greatly influenced (positively or negatively) by the amount of activity they get on a daily basis.
This not only helps them thrive physically but mentally as well. We go into the specific effect of stress on hedgehog life expectancy a bit further down, but it’s worth noting the importance of exercise on their stress levels.
In order to help facilitate this, you’ll want to make sure their environment is well-suited for activities. Give them a wheel to run on (hedgehogs are known to run multiple miles on their wheel each day) and some space to play. Toys will also give them something to fuss with and encourage movement as well.
You can also take them out of their cage to let them explore. The change of scenery and different smells will almost certainly get your hedgehog moving.
Your choice of bedding can impact your hedgehog’s health and in turn, how long they live. This is a commonly overlooked factor but we highly encourage you to take it seriously.
The reason why their bedding can be so important is the fact that for most of their lives they’ll be breathing right next to it for the majority of their lives. Unsafe or suboptimal bedding can quickly become a problem due to the constant and prolonged exposure.
You’ll want to avoid softwood bedding which has been linked to respiratory problems in hedgehogs over time. If your hedgehog has to deal with this for too long it can have a negative impact on their lifespan.
Level of stress
This is another major factor that hedgehogs share with humans. Stress can impact hedgehog lifespans in a major way if unchecked.
If your hedgehog is regularly upset, grumpy, or nervous, that will undoubtedly cause issues in the future. You should always keep an eye on the mood of your hedgehog to make sure they’re happy. If you notice anything out of place it’s on you as the owner to figure out what it is and get it fixed.
Stress can be caused by anything from a noise in your home that’s constantly disturbing their sleep, or the time of day you’re handling them. Fortunately for you, your hedgehog will give you some signs if they’re stressed.
Pay attention to these signs and respect them!
Quality of life
This is semi-related to the point above, but it’s worth exploring as a broad factor. The link between an above-average hedgehog lifespan and their quality of life is clear, and the same can be said for any other animal.
If you’re going to get a hedgehog do it the right way. Make sure they have enrichment, activity, and plenty of variety in their day. A nice spacious cage goes a long way too!
Attention is another piece of the puzzle when it comes to their quality of life. While you don’t want to go overboard, giving your hedgehog attention and snuggle time can mean a lot to them over the course of their life.
Just how you get enjoyment from building trust and a relationship with your pet, they will get the same from learning to trust you!
Natural breeding risks
If you plan on breeding your hedgehog, be aware that it might have an impact on her lifespan. A female hedgehog’s body will go through a lot of stress which will make her more susceptible to illnesses.
There’s also the chance that complications will arise during the process of pregnancy which can lead to serious health concerns. This is a risk that you need to be aware of because the possibility is very real.
While we’re not discouraging you from doing this by any means, it’s absolutely worth bringing up due to the impact it can have. If your main goal is maximizing your hedgehog’s lifespan as much as possible, this is probably something you should avoid.
Making sure that you’re monitoring the health of your hedgehog and giving them the proper care is another way to aid their life expectancy. Instead of only taking them to the vet when something goes really wrong, bring them in when you notice the small stuff.
This will help you prevent a little issue from turning into something serious, which can possibly impact your hedgehog’s lifespan. If you see your hedgehog acting a little strange or notice anything that concerns you it might be worth bringing them in.
We also recommend that you stick to a yearly vet trip no matter if your hedgehog seems healthy or not. These are great opportunities for your vet to make sure your pet is doing well, or notice something you might have missed.
Disease and sickness
This is one of the areas that you sometimes can’t do anything about. Yes, you can improve the chance that your hedgehog will live a long time by taking care of everything we listed above.
However, sometimes bad luck just happens.
Like any animal, hedgehogs can get sick or develop a disease and there’s not much you can do about that. Out of all the hedgehog lifespan factors, this is the one that adds a bit of randomness to the equation.
Do your best to keep them healthy and take them to the vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary. After that, it’s out of your hands.
Remember these going forward
As you can see there are a number of ways you can positively (or negatively) impact your hedgehog’s lifespan.
If you want them to live a long and happy life, keep these in mind going forward. Understanding these factors can help you provide better care and be more attentive to the needs of your hedgie.