7 Telltale Signs Your Hedgehog Is Trying to Hibernate


Ever found your spikey buddy acting a bit…off? As pet owners, it’s essential to understand our cute, prickly friends’ behavior, especially regarding hibernation.

If you’ve ever thought, “signs your hedgehog is trying to hibernate,” you’re in the right place!

Hedgehogs, these nocturnal mammals, have this incredible instinct to hibernate, especially when the temperature drops. But, here’s the kicker—domesticated hedgehogs shouldn’t hibernate.

Their body isn’t adapted like their wild counterparts, making hibernation quite risky for their health.

This blog post will uncover the top signs that may indicate your hedgehog is attempting to hibernate. Plus, we’ve got some tips on preventing such a scenario and ensuring your hedgehog’s health stays top-notch!

What Are The Signs That Your Pet Hedgehog Is Trying To Hibernate?

Here are the seven (7) telltale signs;

Sign 1: Change in Eating Habits

One of the first signs your hedgehog might be trying to hibernate is a change in eating habits. Hedgehogs are generally creatures of habit, so a significant decrease in appetite can be a telltale sign something’s amiss.

Has your hedgehog started leaving leftover food or showing less enthusiasm during feeding time? This could be due to the onset of cooler temperatures triggering their instinct to hibernate, leading to reduced food intake. It’s their little bodies’ way of conserving energy.

If your hedgehog is consuming less of its usual food, observing and intervening is crucial. Offering a balanced diet can help counteract their decreased appetite.

For instance, feeding your hedgehog fresh fruits, such as apples, bananas, or strawberries, can help maintain their nutrient intake.

Each of these foods offers specific benefits to your hedgehog’s health, and introducing them can also spark interest and stimulate their appetite.

Note: Always introduce new foods in moderation and ensure they're safe for hedgehog consumption. For a detailed guide, check out our articles on whether hedgehogs can eat apples, bananas, or strawberries.

Sign 2: Lethargy

Your hedgehog’s energy levels can tell a lot about their overall health. Usually, hedgehogs are quite active, especially during the night.

If your hedgehog is attempting to hibernate, you may notice a drastic decrease in their energy levels – they might seem lethargic, less playful, or less interested in their favorite activities.

Asking the question, “How do you know if your hedgehog is trying to hibernate?” The answer could be in their altered activity levels.

While it’s typical for hedgehogs to be less active during the daytime, a hedgehog that’s lethargic during their usual active hours might be trying to conserve energy for hibernation.

Sign 3: Decreased Body Temperature

Suppose you know your hedgehog’s normal body temperature (roughly 95 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 35 to 36.6 degrees Celsius). In that case, a sudden drop can signal that your hedgehog is trying to hibernate.

You see, a hedgehog’s body temperature tends to decrease when they’re preparing for hibernation. This is their way of conserving energy and adapting to the cooler surroundings.

You can often tell if your hedgehog’s body temperature has dropped just by holding them. They may feel cooler than usual to the touch.

If you suspect a temperature change, you might want to invest in a pet-safe thermometer for a more accurate reading.

Keep in mind that an unusually cold hedgehog is a hedgehog in distress. If your hedgehog’s temperature falls too low, it can be life-threatening.

In such situations, gently warming them can help, but seeking immediate veterinary care is crucial.

Sign 4: Unusual Sleeping Patterns

Wondering “What do hedgehogs do before they hibernate?

Well, one noticeable behavior is an alteration in their sleeping patterns. Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal creatures, which means they’re most active during the night and sleep during the day.

However, when a hedgehog is trying to hibernate, they might sleep more than usual or seem excessively drowsy during their typically active hours.

Additionally, your hedgehog may begin to spend more time in the cozy, darker areas of their enclosure, which could mimic a burrow-like environment.

This behavior could be their way of preparing for what they instinctively perceive as a long winter’s nap.

Sign 5: Physical Appearance Changes

Your hedgehog’s physical appearance can also reveal a lot about its health. A hedgehog trying to hibernate may exhibit certain changes, such as a sudden weight loss.

This weight loss can be attributed to decreased food intake, as mentioned earlier, or energy conservation for the perceived hibernation period.

Furthermore, you might notice that your hedgehog’s spines appear fluffed or not as neat and smooth as usual. They might also curl up more often, mimicking their natural hibernation posture.

Sign 6: Unresponsiveness

Another sign that your hedgehog might be trying to hibernate is unresponsiveness. We’re not talking about the typical grumpy hedgehog attitude – this is more of an alarming, unusual lethargy.

You might find that your hedgehog doesn’t react as quickly to stimuli as they usually do or they seem generally slower in their reactions.

This kind of behavior can be quite concerning, especially if it’s out of character for your pet. You might be asking, “How quickly do hedgehogs go into hibernation?

The answer can vary – some hedgehogs can display these signs over several days, while others might show them more abruptly.

Sign 7: Changes in Waste Production

Finally, keep an eye on your hedgehog’s litter area. Changes in waste production are a lesser-known but equally important sign that your hedgehog might be trying to hibernate.

During hibernation, hedgehogs conserve energy and resources, reducing waste production.

A significant decrease in fecal matter frequency or amount could indicate an impending hibernation attempt. Similarly, changes in urine production, such as lesser quantity or more concentrated urine, could also be a sign.

How to Prevent Hedgehog Hibernation Attempts

Hibernation can be risky for domesticated hedgehogs, primarily because they lack the resources and conditions as their wild counterparts.

Therefore, preventing hibernation attempts is crucial for their well-being.

Here are a few steps to prevent hibernation attempts in your pet hedgehog:

  • Maintain Optimal Temperature: Keep the environment warm, ideally between 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22.2 to 26.7 degrees Celsius). You can use a thermostat-controlled ceramic heat emitter to achieve this.

  • Provide Adequate Lighting: Regulate their day-night cycle with 12 to 14 hours of light per day. This helps your hedgehog distinguish between seasons and reduces hibernation attempts.

  • Offer a Balanced Diet: Keep their diet rich in proteins and low in fats. Fruits and vegetables should also be part of their diet but in moderation. And remember, treats like bread or eggs should be given sparingly, as overfeeding can lead to obesity. For more details on what to feed your hedgehog, check out our blog posts on hedgehog diet here and here.

  • Regular Check-ups: Regular vet visits can help detect early signs of hibernation attempts or other health issues, enabling timely intervention.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. How do you know if your hedgehog is trying to hibernate?

You might notice signs such as decreased activity, reduced appetite, body temperature drop, alterations in sleeping patterns, changes in physical appearance, unresponsiveness, or changes in waste production. Always consult a vet if you notice these signs.

Q2. What do hedgehogs do before they hibernate?

Hedgehogs might display behaviors like decreased activity and increased sleeping hours. They may also start to spend more time in cozy, darker areas of their enclosure, which might mimic a burrow-like environment.

Q3. How do I stop my hedgehog from hibernating attempt?

Maintain a warm environment, regulate their day-night cycle, offer a balanced diet, and have regular vet check-ups. Remember to keep the enclosure temperature between 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22.2 to 26.7 degrees Celsius).

Q4. How quickly do hedgehogs go into hibernation?

The transition can vary. Some hedgehogs can display signs over several days, while others might show them more abruptly. It’s essential to keep a keen eye on any changes in your hedgehog’s behavior and seek veterinary advice if necessary.


Keeping a hedgehog as a pet is a unique and rewarding experience, but it comes with its own set of challenges.

Awareness of the signs that your hedgehog is trying to hibernate is crucial, as domesticated hedgehogs aren’t equipped for a safe hibernation like their wild counterparts.

Maintaining a warm and comfortable environment, offering a balanced diet, and regular health checks are all critical preventative measures.

Remember, your hedgehog depends on you for their well-being, so being vigilant and proactive can help ensure a long, healthy life for your spiky little friend.

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