Is Your Hedgehog Breathing but Not Moving? Here’s Why


Today we’re delving into a concern that has likely caused many of us a moment of panic – spotting our spiky friend not moving but still breathing.

You’ve come to the right place if you’re worried about your hedgehog’s immobility.

It’s essential to know that immobility in hedgehogs, particularly when they’re still breathing, could be due to various reasons.

From hibernation, and health issues, to age-related changes, we’ll uncover the potential causes and provide some quick answers to guide you through this seemingly alarming situation.

Quick Answer: Why Is Your Hedgehog Not Moving But Breathing

If your hedgehog is not moving but is breathing, it could be due to a few reasons:

  • Hibernation: Hedgehogs are known to hibernate when the temperature drops. It might seem like your hedgehog is inactive, but they are in a state of deep sleep. If you’re unsure, “How do I get my hedgehog out of hibernation?” Simply, gently warm them up by holding them in your hands or placing them close to your body heat.

  • Illness or Injury: If your hedgehog isn’t in hibernation and is not moving, it could be a sign of illness or injury. Call a veterinarian immediately to check for any visible signs of discomfort or distress.

  • Stress or Fear: Hedgehogs can play ‘dead’ when they are scared or stressed. Provide a safe, quiet environment for them to calm down.

  • Age-related Issues: Like humans, hedgehogs can experience age-related changes that affect their activity levels.

Common Causes for Your Hedgehog’s Immobility

Let’s delve into the common causes that could lead to your hedgehog’s immobility, while they’re still breathing.


One of the primary reasons a hedgehog might appear inactive is hibernation. This is a natural process that some hedgehogs go through, especially when exposed to colder temperatures.

During this period, they significantly reduce their metabolic rate, body temperature, and other physiological activities, appearing almost motionless but still breathing.

Illness or Injury

Hedgehogs are known for masking symptoms, making it hard to realize when they’re ill. If your hedgehog isn’t hibernating and is unresponsive, they could be ill or injured.

Symptoms could range from noticeable wounds, changes in eating or drinking habits, or unusual discharge from the eyes or nose. Immediate veterinary attention is essential in such situations.

Stress or Fear

Did you know that when a hedgehog feels threatened or stressed, it can go into a state of apparent immobility or even ‘play dead’? Understanding your hedgehog’s stress triggers and creating a calm, safe environment for them is essential.

Age-related Issues

Like other animals, hedgehogs can experience reduced activity due to age-related changes. Older hedgehogs might show decreased mobility or energy levels due to natural aging processes.

Understanding Hedgehog Hibernation

Hibernation is a survival mechanism that hedgehogs use in the wild to get through the colder months when food is scarce. They lower their body temperature to match their surroundings and enter a state of deep sleep.

This might give the impression that they’re immobile, but if you look closely, you’ll see they’re still breathing, albeit very slowly.

There are some important points to note about hedgehog hibernation:

  • Indoor vs. Outdoor Hedgehogs: Domesticated, or indoor hedgehogs, don’t typically need to hibernate due to their controlled environment. However, if the temperatures in their habitat fall, they might instinctively hibernate.
  • Temperature: A significant drop in temperature is usually the trigger for hibernation. Keeping your hedgehog’s living conditions warm (between 72°F and 80°F) can prevent hibernation.
  • Waking a Hibernating Hedgehog: If you believe your hedgehog is hibernating and you wish to wake them, warm them up gradually. Sudden temperature changes can be harmful.
  • Avoidance: Ensure your hedgehog has a balanced diet and an appropriate heat source to reduce the chances of hibernation.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

While understanding hedgehog behavior and hibernation can help manage minor concerns, there are instances where it’s crucial to seek veterinary help immediately.

If your hedgehog is not moving but breathing, and you’ve ruled out hibernation or stress, it’s time to consult a vet. Here are a few signs and symptoms that should prompt a visit to the vet:

  • Changes in Eating and Drinking Habits: If your hedgehog has stopped eating or drinking, or drastic changes in their dietary habits might signal an underlying health issue.
  • Visible Signs of Distress: Unusual discharge from the eyes or nose, wounds, or visible discomfort when moving might indicate an injury or illness.
  • Prolonged Inactivity: If your hedgehog remains immobile for an extended period, beyond their usual sleep hours, it’s important to get them checked.
  • Behavioral Changes: Changes in behavior, such as increased aggression, sudden weight loss, or changes in their feces, could indicate health problems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

To further guide you through your hedgehog care journey, let’s address some common queries related to hedgehog immobility:

Q1. Why isn’t my hedgehog moving but is breathing?

There could be several reasons, including hibernation due to low temperatures, illness or injury, stress, fear, or age-related changes.

Q2. How do I get my hedgehog out of hibernation?

Gently warm your hedgehog by holding them in your hands or placing them near your body heat. Ensure to do it gradually to avoid shock from sudden temperature change.

Q3. My hedgehog is not moving and has cold feet. What does that mean?

Cold feet are a common sign of hibernation, especially when coupled with inactivity. It’s crucial to warm your hedgehog gradually and consult a vet if you have any concerns.

Q4. How can I tell if my hedgehog is sick?

Signs of illness can include drastic changes in eating and drinking habits, visible discomfort, unusual discharge from eyes or nose, sudden weight loss, changes in feces, or prolonged inactivity.


Caring for a hedgehog can be a rewarding experience, but it comes with its share of concerns and queries, especially if your hedgehog is not moving but is breathing.

Understanding your hedgehog’s behavior, their needs, and knowing when to seek veterinary help can ensure their health and happiness.

From understanding the signs of hibernation to identifying the need for professional help, this guide hopes to alleviate some of the worries new and seasoned hedgehog owners alike might have.

Remember, love, patience, and an eagerness to understand are at the heart of pet ownership. With these, you’re already well on your way to becoming a fantastic hedgehog parent.

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