Hedgehogs are popular pets as they are easy to look after and are low maintenance pets. We decided to find out more about whether to get a male or female hedgehog first, just to be sure we made the right decision as finding out later a boy hedgehog or a girl hedgehog was a bad choice could leave us with an unwanted hedgehog.
Should I get a male or female hedgehog? Choosing to get a male or a female hedgehog is a personal decision. Unlike many other animals both the male (boar) and female (sow) hedgehogs have an equal temperament, thereby the male is no more aggressive than a female, in fact once they get used to their owners, both males and females will react the same calmer way as they start to bond.
Deciding on whether to get a boy or a girl hedgehog is a personal decision, we opted for a boy hedgehog as we liked the look of him when we first went to see the breeder. He looked different to his siblings, with darker fur and spines and we just fell in love with him straightway.
The breeder we used showed us how to distinguish the difference between a male and female hedgehog by checking their bellies. The male hedgehog has a urogenital gap, a penile sheath that females do not have, it looks like a large belly button.
This houses the male hedgehog’s penis which is retracted into a penis sheath, accompanied by testicles which are not visible. Female hedgehogs have a vulva and teats (or also known as mammae), there are usually five pairs of these.
They also told us about female hedgehogs being known as sows and male hedgehogs being known as boars, the boars part did make me chuckle, as they are also known as hogs, so I found that quite appropriate.
Is a male hedgehog bigger than a female?
The male hedgehog is little smaller than the female hedgehog and this could be down to anatomical reasons especially when the female hedgehog will bear baby hedgehogs. When female hedgehogs are pregnant, they do get much bigger than males hedgehogs as they are carrying multiple hedgehog babies.
The size difference between hedgehogs I think is important if you are thinking of housing two or more hedgehogs together (check below to see if it’s possible and appropriate) as the size of the cage will play an important factor in ensuring the hedgehogs have enough space.
I remember seeing our hedgehogs mother and she was very large, my daughter held her, and she struggled with both her hands. This is probably what put us of having a female hedgehog, that she could end up being too big to handle even though she wouldn’t be carrying babies, it was just a difficult thought to shake off.
Is it better to have one or two hedgehogs?
It’s better to have one hedgehog as they are solitary creatures, as having two or more runs the risk of the hedgehogs fighting and seriously injuring each other.
Keeping two males together up to the age of weaning could be acceptable but after this, keeping two males together is not an option as they will definitely fight each other.
Keeping a male and female together could be a better option, as females will tend to be more tolerant of other hedgehogs but this should only be considered for breeding purposes. Keeping females together is another option, as they may be more at ease with each other.
Hedgehogs tend to be solitary creatures so there are no problems keeping a single hedgehog, as they won’t be lonely or pine for hedgehog friendship. Our male hedgehog has been with us for four years and he has not shown any signs of loneliness like being depressed. He’s is usual perky self and loves to be held by my daughter, especially when she massages his face.
I don’t think our hedgehog marks his territory much, like they would in the wild to deter other male hedgehogs in the vicinity. When there are two male hedgehogs kept together, there will be a sporadic marking of territory and this scent marking will invariably lead to fighting. Even with a large cage, giving two males enough space is going to be a major problem and I would thoroughly recommend keeping male hedgehogs apart.
Keep an eye out if you decide to keep hedgehogs together, especially for behaviors pointing towards not getting along. I’ve heard of females kept together who get along and sleep together, then one of the females changes behavior and no longer sleeps with the other female. This change of behavior could be innocuous, but it still needs careful monitoring to see if the change of behavior is more something more sinister.
The choice of boy or girl hedgehog is a personal choice and careful consideration needs to be given to this, more so if you are looking at keeping more than one hedgehog together in the same cage. As keeping two males together will inevitably lead to problems, whilst a male with a female hedgehog should only be considered if breeding is an option and keeping two females together may be easier but would require careful monitoring.
A hedgehog by themselves will pose little problems as they are solitary creatures and as long as they are given some attention, fed well and allowed to exercise using a running wheel, then there should little problem keeping the hedgehog happy and content.