The Mating and Reproduction of Hedgehogs.
The hedgehog mating season and periods during which
they are born changes from country to country
due to the different climates.
Mating might begin in early March or
from the end of April in colder countries.
Shortly after coming out of hibernation.
Typically males come out of hibernation earlier than females to prepare to be in full force for courtship.
Hedgehogs do not form a fixed pair or "family".
They are solitary and only meet to reproduce. The courtships are also called "hedgehog carousels" in Italian because of the way they occur.
When male and female meet, the first contact is using their sense of smell.
Then the actual courtship begins.
The male hedgehog makes infinite turns around the female, emitting calls and puffs. The female keeps the male at bay with threatening puffs, jumps and screeches even for several nights, before indulging herself. She may also bite the male if she doesn't like him or isn't ready to mate.
Eventually, she indulges him by lowering and letting her spines fall completely.
The hedgehog courtship rite can last many nights and, if the male finds several females, it is not difficult to find healthy but very weakened ones.
The male hedgehog does not feed during the courtship. He is too busy convincing the female and defending her from any other suitors.
If a male is found and this is the case and he is debilitated, 3/4 days in a hedgehog recovery centre should be enough to allow him to recover.
The search for available females during the mating season often leads male hedgehogs to cover considerable distances.
Unfortunately, it has been estimated that in some areas as many as 60 to 70% of them may be killed by cars.
After mating, the female hedgehog pursuades the male away and proceeds to build a safe and suitable "nest" for her young.
This is due to the fact that the male might kill the newborn babies.
Hedgehog pregnancy lasts approximately 37 to 40 days. Normally between 2 to 7 babies are born in a litter.
A hedgehog mother, even if well fed, can lose up to around about 30% of her weight whilst caring for her babies up until weaning.
This is one of the reasons we see females who have had late litters in autumn that are debilitated. They are weakened and do not possess sufficient far reserves to survive hibernation.