Hedgehog Life Expectancy: How Long Do They Live?

The average lifespan of hedgehogs can vary depending on their environment and whether they are wild or domesticated. If you are planning on becoming the proud owner of a hedgehog, then the first question you may want to know is how long they live.

This is a somewhat loaded question as many factors can determine their life span.

When we consider wild and pet hedgehogs, there is a significant difference between how long they can live. If you want one as a pet then it is good news. In captivity, hedgehogs tend to live a lot longer.

Today, we are going to discuss the average lifespan of these small, porcupine-like mammals. We will help you understand a hedgehog’s life cycle and how to ensure they live as long as possible.

What is a hedgehog’s life expectancy?

On average, wild hedgehogs generally live for only 2 to 3 years. Pet hedgehogs, on the other hand, can live for 3 to 6 years in most cases. However, some have been known to live for up to 9 or 10 years.

Just like every human, each hedgehog is an individual. Their exact longevity depends on:

  • Their environment
  • Their genes
  • How they are treated/brought up
  • Their health and fitness
  • The availability of food around them
  • How much exercise they get
  • Any predisposition to various diseases

The list goes on but these are the main factors that determine a hedgehog’s, and for that matter, any animal’s lifespan. All the figures for the average lifespan of a hedgehog are not exact. Your experience with your hedgehog may vary from another’s. 

A hedgehog’s life cycle

Whether hedgehogs are in the wild or kept as a pet, they mature very quickly. After only a few months, they can reproduce, and around the age of 1-year-old, they reach physical maturity and are considered adults. In other words, they are around 30 to 40 years old in human terms. 

After this age, a hedgehog’s aging begins to slow down significantly. They remain middle-aged for the majority of their lives before eventually reaching old age in the last year of their life.

Compared to their first year of aging, it takes a lot longer to grow old which is similar to many small mammals. 

Unfortunately, this life cycle means they do not live for a very long time. In animals, an earlier maturity usually equates to a shorter lifespan. Of course, as we mentioned, many factors have their say in this aging process. 

Compared to cats and dogs, you will not get as much time with a hedgehog due to a combination of their size, metabolism, genetics, and much more. This is important to know before you own a hedgehog as some find their lifespan is too short and can become too painful to say goodbye so quickly. 

Domesticated hedgehog lifespan

You can expect a hedgehog to live somewhat longer when kept as a pet. This tends to be because of the range of benefits that come with being in captivity such as a constant source of food and care. 

Domesticated hedgehogs just won’t face the same challenges that a wild one would. There are fewer to no predators to deal with for pet hedgehogs and water, as well as food, is provided daily within a suitable living space.

Constant temperatures, or close to constant, and lack of exposure to the harsh natural elements also help prolong their lives. Overall, pet hedgehogs have less stress to deal with and there are fewer risks of becoming seriously ill.  

As a result of this comfortable life, a pet hedgehog can expect to live for 3 to 6 years. But if your pet is lucky and has good genes, it could live for 8 to 10 years, although these are extremes.

As with any pet, hedgehogs can encounter various problems that can shorten their life. In the wild, these prickly animals can cover several miles or so every night as they hunt and forage.

This exercise keeps them fit while those in captivity can easily become overweight, even with an exercise wheel. Obesity can lead to a range of health issues and even premature death. 

However, in general, pet hedgehogs tend to live a lot longer than their wild companions and can be great pets for many years. 

Wild hedgehog’s lifespan 

There are over a dozen different species of wild hedgehogs and the lifespan of these different kinds varies. Generally, larger hedgehogs do not live as long as their smaller counterparts. But, as with any animal in the wild, their longevity is hugely down to luck.

Many dangers and challenges face a wild hedgehog every day. Due to these harsh living conditions and added stress, a wild hedgehog’s average lifespan is around 2 to 3 years.

The lack of daily food, dealing with all kinds of predators, moving from burrow to burrow, and having to hibernate are all key factors that can cut short a hedgehog’s life. 

This isn’t to say that a wild hedgehog can’t live as long as domesticated pets. With enough food, fewer predators, better weather conditions, good genes, and a sprinkle of luck, wild hedgehogs can live for 8 years or more.

But this is uncommon as most do not survive the challenges thrown their way. 

In Summary

For a hedgehog to have the longest life possible, they need proper care. If you’re thinking of owning one as a pet, ensure you get it from a reputable breeder and they have everything they need in their cages such as food and water. Pay close attention to their well-being and health, as you would with any household pet.

Depending on various factors, hedgehogs can live up to 5 years on average but 10 years on rare occasions. The key to a pet hedgehog’s long life is to do your best for them, love them, and treat them as well as possible.