Everyone seems to be clamoring for a pet hedgehog these days thanks to their exotic status and quirky looks. One of the biggest dilemmas for potential owners face what gender to get especially for first-timers unsure of the presence of sex-specific challenges or advantages.
This article answers the question “Should I Get A Male Or Female Hedgehog?” by discussing the nuances of raising both genders. We also reveal the physical differences between the two and how to determine which gender works best for your circumstances.
Should I Get A Male Or Female Hedgehog?
Getting a male or female hedgehog is a personal choice because they have similar temperaments. Females (sows) may share a cage much better than males (boars) due to the presence of male hormones that trigger aggressive tendencies from time to time.
Whether to choose a male or female hedgehog is a matter of personal choice because no two owners have the same circumstances or goals. For instance, one owner may have intentions of cohabiting with multiple hedgehogs in a single enclosure which can influence the choice of females.
However, another person could have no intention of raising more than one hedgehog which makes a male a good option. Either way, knowing the differences between males and females affects the choice-making process positively.
Male vs Female Hedgehogs: Physical Differences
Like most animals, there are several visual differences between males and females for identification purposes. Firstly, the males are endowed with a penile sheath found in their abdominal region with a close resemblance to the belly button. Like some animals, the hedgehog’s balls stay retracted in the abdomen and do not appear conspicuous.
Female hedgehogs or sows have a vulva found adjacent to the anus in addition to the presence of five teats for breastfeeding babies after delivery. The vulva is expandable to fit penile sheaths of different sizes and for hoglet delivery after pregnancy.
Male vs Female Hedgehogs: Physical Size
Male hedgehogs are often smaller in size than females. Females also become bigger during pregnancy as their calorie intake goes through the roof to meet the fetus’ needs. The majority are unable to shake off the additional weight after delivery.
Physical size differences should be considered during cage shopping because hedgehogs need absolute comfort to be able to roam around in their enclosures. Owners who intend to pair up 2 hedgehogs in a cage should also consider their size during shopping.
Besides, larger hedgehogs could be more difficult to handle especially by kids and teens already intimidated by the presence of the prickly spines.
Male vs Female Hedgehogs: Breeding
Allowing hedgehogs to cohabit after weaning can lead to disaster because sexual maturity usually occurs earlier than anticipated. Female hedgehogs may mature sexually as early as 8 weeks although the probability of stillbirths and other complications could be high.
Experts recommend breeding female hedgehogs at 6 months and males at 11 months when they are considered full-grown adults. Unlike the majority of animals, female hedgehogs have no menstrual cycles because ovulation is induced when they spend time with males.
Male vs Female Hedgehogs: Odors
Male and female hedgehogs have no odor differences, unlike other animals where one gender may smell noticeably stronger than the other. Hedgehogs also do not leave their scents on their cage components or other items as a form of territorial marking.
Male vs Female Hedgehogs: Temperament
Temperamental differences between males and females can be negligible if any. However, females fare better when paired up together than males and in some instances, female hedgehogs experience improved moods from cohabitation despite their natural solitary nature.
Male vs Female Hedgehogs: Pairing Up
It is no secret that hedgehogs do not move in pairs in the wild and prefer to go through life on their own. They only seek out mates during the mating season and they both go their separate ways after the deed is done. Hoglets offer the best chances of success during pair-ups as they are more focused on transitioning to comfortable lives.
Female hedgehogs may also live peacefully with other females in the same cage especially infants. This is thanks to the absence of testosterone-induced aggression unlike in male hedgehogs.
Males hate the idea of cohabiting with other hedgehogs including even adult females they can mate with. They usually fight with females after mating and owners are forced to separate them quickly before calamity strikes.
Hedgehog owners should always keep an eye on cohabiting animals to prevent signs of aggression that could result in serious injury or even fatalities.
Male vs Female Hedgehogs: Health Problems
Male and female hedgehogs are exposed to a wide range of health problems that should be taken into account before deciding which gender to go for. The low center of gravity in male hedgehogs means their penile sheaths are exposed to the ground resulting in a high risk of urinary tract infections.
Male hedgehog penises could also get exposed to toxic cage bedding resulting in redness, soreness, and other signs of irritation. Veterinary care may be necessary to secure treatment for the stricken male hedgehog.
Just like the males, female hedgehogs also have a low center of gravity which exposes their reproductive systems to diseases and infections. Physical contact with irritant cage bedding can lead to urinary tract infections which could be characterized by bloody stools, declined appetites, and other signs of illness.
Female hedgehogs that are never bred face a high risk of uterine cancers while pregnancy and delivery pose risks including deaths. Females may be spayed by owners with no intention of future breeding but the evasive procedure does not come without risks. (Source)
Do Male and Female Hedgehogs Fight?
Males and females fight after mating, especially in domesticated settings. Owners often separate them immediately after to prevent these fights.
What is A Male and Female Hedgehog Called?
Male hedgehogs are called Boars while female hedgehogs are called Sows. Learning how to differentiate their gender can be critical to calling them the right names.
Conclusion: Should I Get A Male Or Female Hedgehog?
Neither male nor female hedgehogs offer distinct advantages over the other. Potential owners get to weigh the pros and cons of each gender to select what works best for their needs. Do not hesitate to consult an exotics vet to help provide the right treatment for some of the problems outlined here for each gender.
You may also want to raise both genders for an up-close observation to be in a better position to choose which is the most suitable the next time around.