Hibernating Hedgehogs: 3 Safe Ways to Wake Them Up [Guide]


If you’re a proud hedgehog owner, you might face some unique and prickly challenges, including hibernation.

As enchanting as our spiky friends are, their natural instincts can sometimes be puzzling. We often get asked, “Do you need to get a hedgehog out of hibernation?

It’s important to know why hedgehogs hibernate, how to spot the signs, and, most importantly, when and how to intervene.

If your hedgehog pal shows signs of wanting to curl up for a long winter’s nap, our guide below will help you navigate this spiky situation!

Quick Answer

Yes, getting your pet hedgehog out of hibernation is often necessary. Hibernation is a natural response to cold temperatures in the wild, but domesticated hedgehogs living in controlled environments don’t need to hibernate.

Hibernation can be dangerous for them due to potential drops in body temperature that can lead to complications. What is the safest course of action? Prevent hibernation from occurring altogether!

But if your prickly buddy does end up in hibernation, it’s crucial to get them out safely. This usually involves warming their environment, altering their diet, or adjusting their sleep cycle.

Don’t worry; we’ve got three proven methods further down the line to help you safely navigate this situation!

Fun Fact: Cats and hedgehogs are not known to get along well as pets due to cats' hunting instincts, which may lead them to see hedgehogs as prey rather than companions.

Why Do Hedgehogs Hibernate?

Hibernation is a survival mechanism used by various animals, including hedgehogs, to conserve energy during the cold winter months when food sources are scarce.

During hibernation, hedgehogs lower their body temperature and slow down their metabolic functions to a near standstill, entering a state of deep sleep.

But the curious case is, our pet hedgehogs don’t need to hibernate. They’re typically not exposed to extreme weather changes and have constant access to food, thanks to their caring humans!

Yet, their natural instincts might kick in if their environment isn’t maintained correctly.

Fun Fact: Hedgehogs may bite if they feel threatened or cornered, but with proper handling and care, they can become friendly and docile pets.

Signs Your Hedgehog Is Hibernating

Identifying whether your hedgehog is hibernating or simply sleeping can be a little tricky as both involve a lot of… well, non-activity! However, there are some key signs to look out for:

  • Decreased Activity: One of the most common signs is an obvious decrease in activity. Your usually energetic hedgehog might start moving slower or spend more time curled up.

  • Reduced Appetite: During hibernation, hedgehogs often eat less than usual due to their slowed metabolism.

  • Lower Body Temperature: A hibernating hedgehog’s body temperature significantly drops. You can usually feel this when you touch your hedgehog—it’ll be much cooler than usual.

Knowing these signs is crucial to understanding your hedgehog’s behavior. One common question we get is “How long does it take for a hedgehog to get out of hibernation?

Well, that depends on a few factors, like the hedgehog’s health and the measures you take to wake them up.

Fun Fact: To calm a scared hedgehog, create a quiet and secure environment, avoid sudden movements or loud noises, and be patient with gentle handling and socialization to build trust over time.

Risks Associated With Forcing a Hedgehog Out of Hibernation

Forcing a hedgehog out of hibernation isn’t without risks. It should be a gradual and gentle process to ensure your hedgehog’s safety and health. Here’s why:

  • Thermal Shock: Sudden temperature changes can cause thermal shock. If a hedgehog is abruptly woken from hibernation, their body might struggle to adjust quickly enough to the change, which can lead to health complications.
  • Metabolic Stress: Hibernation involves significant changes to the hedgehog’s metabolic rates. Suddenly interrupting this process can cause metabolic stress, affecting their health.
  • Potential for Illness: When hedgehogs hibernate, their immune system also slows down. They could be at higher risk of falling ill if they’re abruptly awakened.
Fun Fact: Hedgehogs can hiss and make popping sounds when they feel threatened or scared. These vocalizations serve as warning signals to potential predators or threats, helping to deter them and protect the hedgehog.

Preventing Hibernation in Pet Hedgehogs

The best strategy to handle hibernation in pet hedgehogs is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here’s how you can create an ideal environment for your spiky buddy:

  • Maintain the Temperature: Keep the temperature in your hedgehog’s living area consistent, ideally between 72°F (22°C) and 80°F (27°C). This can be achieved by using heaters or heat lamps specifically designed for small pets.
  • Proper Lighting: Regulating day and night cycles for your hedgehog can help prevent hibernation. Ensure they get about 12-14 hours of light every day.
  • Adequate Food and Water: Regular feeding can also prevent hibernation. Make sure your hedgehog has a constant supply of fresh food and water.
Fun Fact: To stop hedgehogs from curling, handle them gently and calmly, making them feel safe and secure. Regular socialization can help them become more comfortable and less likely to curl up defensively.

How to Safely Wake Hedgehog From Hibernation?

Here are the three (3) ways you can use;

Method 1: Gradual Warming

The first method to help your hedgehog out of hibernation is gradual warming. This involves slowly raising the temperature of your hedgehog’s environment to prompt them out of their hibernation state.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Check Your Hedgehog’s Temperature: Gently pick up your hedgehog and feel their belly. If it’s colder than usual, they might be in hibernation.
  • Warm Up Their Environment: Slowly increase the temperature of their habitat. A space heater or heat lamp can be useful here. Aim for a temperature between 72°F (22°C) and 80°F (27°C).
  • Warm Up Your Hedgehog: You can also use your body heat to help warm your hedgehog. Holding them against your skin under a warm blanket can be very effective.

Method 2: Adjusting Sleep Cycle

Altering your hedgehog’s sleep cycle can sometimes help to get them out of hibernation. Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal animals, but their sleep patterns can become irregular when hibernating. Here’s how you can help:

  • Monitor Their Sleep: Observe your hedgehog’s sleeping habits. They might be trying to hibernate if they’re sleeping longer than usual or at odd times.
  • Alter Light Exposure: Gradually increase the amount of light your hedgehog is exposed to during the day. This can help reset their internal clock and discourage hibernation. Remember to aim for about 12-14 hours of light daily.
  • Encourage Activity: During their active hours (usually night), encourage your hedgehog to move around and play. This can help keep their body temperature up.

Method 3: Dietary Changes

The final method involves dietary changes. Feeding your hedgehog a balanced, nutritious diet can help keep their energy levels up and discourage hibernation. Here’s what you can do:

  • Ensure Regular Feeding: Make sure your hedgehog is eating regularly. If they’re hibernating, they might be eating less than usual.
  • High-Energy Foods: Consider introducing more high-energy foods into your hedgehog’s diet, like mealworms and crickets. But remember, moderation is key!
  • Hydration: Keeping your hedgehog hydrated is also crucial. Make sure they have constant access to fresh water.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

In this section, we’ll address some of the most common queries related to hedgehog hibernation. Hopefully, these quick answers will provide you with some additional insights!

Q1. How to get a hedgehog out of hibernation?

Several methods include gradually warming your hedgehog and its environment, adjusting its sleep cycle, and altering its diet. Each method requires patience and careful monitoring.

Q2. Can you wake a hedgehog from hibernation?

Yes, but it should be done slowly and carefully to avoid causing any stress or harm to the hedgehog.

Q3. How long does it take for a hedgehog to get out of hibernation?

It depends on various factors, including the hedgehog’s overall health and the method used to wake them. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days.

Q4. How do I stop my hedgehog from hibernating attempt?

Maintain a consistent temperature and lighting schedule in their habitat, provide a balanced diet, and ensure they are active during their normal waking hours.


Waking a hedgehog from hibernation can be delicate, but it’s not impossible. With patience, care, and the right information, you can safely bring your spiky friend back to their usual active self.

Remember, it’s always best to prevent hibernation in pet hedgehogs by maintaining a comfortable environment and a healthy lifestyle.

If your hedgehog does enter hibernation, use the methods outlined in this post: Gradual Warming, Adjusting Sleep Cycle, and Dietary Changes.

Always watch for any signs of distress or discomfort in your hedgehog and consult a vet if needed. After all, a healthy and happy hedgehog is what we all aim for!

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