Should Hedgehogs Be Kept in Pairs?

2 hedgehogs eating in a cage as owners inquire Should Hedgehogs Be Kept in Pairs?

Hedgehogs are a great option for pet lovers thanks to their low maintenance and other positive attributes. Many current hedgehog parents may desire a new addition and it is only natural to wonder whether including it in the existing cage setup is possible.

This article answers the question “Should Hedgehogs Be Kept in Pairs?” by discussing whether hedgehogs need companionships. We also examine the circumstances under which they could be paired up and measures to put in place to maximize the chances of success.

Several potential hedgehog pairings are also analyzed to predict the probability of success based on experience.

Should Hedgehogs Be Kept in Pairs?

Hedgehogs are solitary animals that thrive in solo enclosures. Two females may be paired up successfully but the cage must measure at least 2 feet x 4 feet with abundant resources like food, water, and toys. Avoid pairing males and females to prevent unwanted pregnancies and frequent fights.

It is evident that hedgehogs are independent by nature and enjoy their own company, unlike other animals. Even in the wild, they hardly move around in pairs which explains why keeping more than one in the same enclosure in captivity is not the smartest idea.

Reasons Why Two Hedgehogs Should Not Be Kept Together

Here are common reasons not to keep two hedgehogs together unless under emergency circumstances.

Solitary By Nature

lonely African pygmy hedgehog on the outside

Hedgehogs are naturally solitary and it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out from looking at their behavior in the wild. Not only do they not move in pairs but each hedgehog hunts for its own food without relying on others for survival.

Hoglets may follow their mother throughout the first couple of weeks to feed on her breastmilk while their teeth develop. They usually leave the mother’s side after full teeth development for an independent life as they forge their own path.

The only time hedgehogs court companionship is for sexual attraction and mating for reproductive purposes. Males and females go their separate ways after successful mating and the females are forced to nurture their hoglets alone in the event of successful pregnancy and delivery.

Domesticated hedgehogs inherit the solitary genes from their wild ancestors and this makes them happier when housed solo. The only caveat is to provide the necessary bells and whistles in their cages including comfortable sand baths, moisture-wicking bedding, and interactive cage toys.

Petty Squabbles

Hedgehogs can be territorial when raised in pairs and this could be problematic for their well-being since petty squabbles and fights may be common. Hisses and other forms of aggressive sounds from one or both hedgehogs paired together in cages could be frequent.

The physical fights often result in bodily injury as they attack each other with their teeth and spines. Apart from leg fractures and damage to the spines, these fights can be highly stressful for both.

The result is fear and agitation among hedgehogs which may translate to loss of appetite, significant weight loss, and malnutrition even when provided with the right diets. The stress could also induce several illnesses that can affect their quality of life significantly.

Wild hedgehogs can also fight for control over territory or even access to females for mating purposes. Moving one of them to a different part of your property could eliminate the need to fight among each other.

Unwanted Pregnancies

Are you a breeder looking to produce new offspring? If not, pairing a male and female hedgehog in the same enclosure may be a huge mistake. Sexual attraction during their estrus cycle is inevitable resulting in a high probability of unwanted pregnancies.

Unintentional breeding may create more problems than you can handle. Hedgehog litter sizes could be as large as 8 or even 10 and if all of them survive the delivery and weaning stage then the accidental breeder has some huge pet store bills coming up.

Purchasing up to 8 brand new cages with a significant surge in pet food bills at the store is no mean feat. Each cage also needs to be equipped with critical toys like wheels, mazes, food bowls, and water bottles. Additional cage components vital to their comfort include bedding, dust baths, and hideouts. (Source)

Legal Restrictions

black and gold gavel hitting a sound block surface

The first step to take before going ahead to raise hedgehogs is to find out what the local laws say. Hedgehogs are currently illegal in several US states including California, Georgia, Hawaii, and New York, and verifying whether raising one at home does not go contrary to local laws can be vital.

Beyond that, there may be several restrictions even in states where they are legal. Thorough research could keep you out of the law’s clutches. For instance, local laws may frown upon housing more than one hedgehog in a single enclosure, and going contrary to that can bring problems.

The last thing you’d want is to suffer a huge financial penalty or even end up in jail in the quest to raise pet hedgehogs.

Diseases and Infections

Hedgehogs can be prone to several diseases and infections and raising multiple in a singular cage only exacerbates the risk. The existing hedgehog could be exposed to mites or parasites which may lead to full-blown infestation in the shared cage.

Many folks quarantine new hedgehogs for a few weeks before introduction into a shared cage but not all infections show visible signs to seek treatments.

Do Hedgehogs Get Lonely?

Hedgehogs do not get lonely because they’re naturally solitary animals that enjoy their own space. This is evident in the wild where they move alone and scavenge for food independently and only become social during the breeding season.

If you’re worried that grumpy caged hedgehogs need companions to be happy, that can be far from the case, and pairing them up often causes more harm than good.

Can You House 2 Male Hedgehogs Together?

Pairing 2 adult males together in the same cage is probably the biggest mistake you could make as a hedgehog owner. Physical altercations may be constant as one male tries to dominate the other without success because both have a natural preference to be the alpha male.

The result is a never-ending episode of fights leading to severe injuries that could require extended periods of treatment. Once they heal, expect the physical fights to resume because the only way one male hedgehog is backing down for the other is when there’s a fight to the death.

Male African Pygmy Hedgehogs and European hedgehogs both exhibit these aggressive traits when housed together in the same enclosure. Caging two male hedgehogs together will always be a big mistake whichever way you look at it.

Can You House 2 Female Hedgehogs Together?

Two females offer the best chance of success when paired in a singular enclosure but the results are by no means guaranteed. Some female hedgehogs may be territorial and try to assert their authority in the cage which could result in signs of aggression.

We recommend keeping a close eye on the two enclosure mates if you decide to go down that route because dominance issues can pop up from time to time. Caging two female hedgehogs that know each other well such as a mother-daughter pair or two sisters could offer the best chance of success due to the familiarity with each other’s scents.

Also, housing two female hoglets together in the same cage may lead to a high probability of success since they get used to not having personal space right from day one. Territorial issues can be minimal because they often get on well with each other.

Can You House An Adult and Young Hedgehog Together?

adult and young hedgehog together but Can You House An Adult and Young Hedgehog Together?

Housing an adult hedgehog and hoglet together may be successful because of the lack of territorial issues. The adult acts as the dominant player in the cage with no challenge to its authority by the hoglet.

We recommend mother-daughter pairings since the adult females provide more of a nurturing role for the hoglet. Being the biological mother also means minimal risk of aggression such as cannibalizing the hoglet unless under extreme circumstances like extended hunger.

However, the situation can change when the hoglet grows up into an adult and begins challenging the mother’s authority. The results could be disastrous when neither of them backs down for the other to play a dominant role in the cage.

Pairing up a male hedgehog and hoglet may not be a bad idea but the owner still has to monitor the cage constantly especially after noticing signs of stress in the adult. Male hedgehogs have no nurturing abilities with little interest in playing a fatherly role for the hoglet.

Be prepared to move the male hoglet out of the cage immediately after adulthood kicks in before standing up to the adult male begins. Delays could lead to catastrophic results for everyone so early isolation can be vital.

Can You House A Male and Female Hedgehog Together?

Keeping a male and female hedgehog together may be possible but not always guaranteed because both could be used to living solo. Physical altercations can arise because the presence of another hedgehog in their space may be intimidating.

However, the probability of success can be higher compared to housing two males together but the only caveat could be the risk of unwanted pregnancies. If you’re willing to breed hedgehog offspring then housing a male and female can offer a fantastic opportunity.

The pair should be separated once the pregnancy is confirmed to enable the female to build a nest for the unborn hoglets in peace without interruptions from the male. Solitary confinement of females can also protect the hoglets after delivery since the male could cannibalize the newborns to get to the female.

Neutering one or both hedgehogs may prevent mating and pregnancies when a male and female are kept together in the same cage. We recommend sterilizing the male to remove aggressive masculine hormones which can increase the chances of successful pairing with females.

Conclusion: Should Hedgehogs Be Kept in Pairs?

Hedgehogs are naturally solitary animals that prefer to be kept alone in cages. If they must be kept in pairs, two females offer the best chance of success. An adult and hoglet may also live together peacefully in the same cage but staying on standby to move the hoglet out close just before adulthood could be smart.

Always monitor paired-up hedgehogs for signs of aggression and take immediate action to decrease the risks of physical injuries and deaths from petty squabbles. Making sure there’s enough cage floor space to accommodate both hedgehogs as well as their food bowls, toys, and other accessories could be critical to the chances of success.

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