Do Hedgehogs Have Periods? The Surprising Answer!
When owning any kind of pet, it’s important to learn everything you can about them, including their reproductive cycles. Animals such as dogs and cats are much more common pets, and we tend to have a good idea of their breeding and reproductive behaviors. In fact, if you’ve ever owned a dog, you’re probably aware that females can bleed when they’re in heat.
But animals such as hedgehogs can be a bit of a mystery since they aren’t as common of a pet. Knowing what to expect can also help you make sure that your hedgehog is in good health even if you don’t want to breed her.
For the record, hedgehogs do not have periods and shouldn’t bleed throughout their reproductive cycle. Hedgehogs do have heat cycles, but it is not the same as a dog or even a human’s menstrual cycle. If you notice blood in your hedgehog’s cage, it’s an indicator that something else is going on. Continue reading to learn more.
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Do Hedgehogs Have Periods?
All-female mammals have an estrus cycle, which is the period of time from one ovulation to the next ovulation. In humans, the estrus cycle is called the menstrual cycle, during which time a “period” of bleeding occurs. Some other mammals besides humans experience bleeding during their estrus cycle as well, but not all of them do.
Hedgehogs fall into the latter category, meaning that they do not have periods, nor do they bleed at all during their estrus cycle. The fact that hedgehogs do not have periods or bleed means that if you’re trying to breed them, it can make it harder to know when they are in heat. However, it also means that if you do see bleeding in your hedgehog, it’s an indicator that something is wrong.
How Can You Tell When a Hedgehog Is in Heat?
Hedgehogs are polyestrous animals, which means that they can go into heat several times throughout the breeding season in the event that they don’t become pregnant. But, they are also thought to be induced ovulators, which means that they may only ovulate (release eggs) when stimulated or when mating has occurred and not necessarily on any sort of regular cycle.
It’s because of this reason that it can be hard to tell exactly when a hedgehog is in heat, and not much is known about the reproductive cycles of hedgehogs so there is a lot of mixed information out there. However, a hedgehog’s estrus cycle is a lot shorter than larger animals. The general thought is that they have a cycle that is on for 9 days and off for 7 days, but this is not an absolute rule.
Based on that general thought though, if you’re trying to breed your female hedgehog, the only way to know for sure whether or not she is in heat is to leave a male and female together for about 5 days, separate them for 5 days, then put them together for 5 days again. If the thought is correct, then the female hedgehog should be in heat at some point during that 15-day period.
Combining the ‘9 days on, 7 days off’ theory with the theory that ovulation is triggered in hedgehogs while they are in the presence of a male, there’s a high chance that your hedgehog could become pregnant shortly after being in the presence of a male for a few days. You can always watch for signs that she is responsive to a male, but you can’t keep an eye on her constantly or know for sure when she is in heat since there is no blood or any other obvious signs.
What If Your Hedgehog Is Bleeding?
Knowing that hedgehogs don’t have periods, seeing blood in your hedgehog’s urine or poop should be a cause for concern. It’s not always a sign of a serious problem, but it is a sign that something isn’t right in your hedgehog’s body. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell how serious the problem is.
Blood in a hedgehog’s urine or poop could be the sign of urinary tract infection or constipation, both of which aren’t super serious but may still require treatment. Since hedgehogs do sit so close to the ground, urinary infections are common.
Alternatively, it could be a sign of some sort of reproductive organ cancer or a more serious illness. The bottom line is that if you see any blood in your hedgehog’s urine or poop, it’s a good idea to have a vet check her out.
Should You Breed Your Hedgehog?
The decision on whether or not to breed your hedgehog is ultimately up to you. But, we can offer you some things to consider before you make that decision. For starters, breeding a female hedgehog does have risks associated with it since you have no way of knowing what complications may arise.
If your hedgehog does become pregnant, she could have babies within a month to a month and a half. In the best-case scenario, you’ll have new hedgehog babies. But in the worst-case scenario, problems could arise while the hedgehog is giving birth that could lead to the death of the mama or the babies.
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Even if the mama is healthy and all the babies are fine, you’ll have to make sure that you provide plenty of food and enough shelter for all of them. Since hedgehogs prefer to live alone, you’ll have to have separate cages for each baby when they get old enough to live on their own. Otherwise, you’ll have to make sure that you have homes lined up for them.
You’ll also have to potentially provide vet care for all of the hedgehog babies if you intend on keeping them. Essentially, breeding a hedgehog involves more of a monetary and time commitment for you. It’s definitely something that you need to make sure you can and are willing to handle.
Should You Spay a Female Hedgehog If Not You’re Breeding?
If you have a female hedgehog and are not planning on breeding her, you may be wondering if you should have her spayed? This is another area involving the reproductive systems of hedgehogs that is up for debate.
On the one hand, knowing that female hedgehogs usually only go into heat when in the presence of a male, and being in the presence of a male is the only way she can get pregnant, why would she need to be spayed? There are also concerns with the size of hedgehogs and the location of their internal organs that make spaying procedures more difficult than with other animals.
However, the general consensus among vets is that it is a good idea to have a female hedgehog spayed if you aren’t going to breed her. The reason is that female hedgehog are prone to uterine tumors, which can be fatal. Spaying a hedgehog removes the risk of uterine tumors entirely since the uterus is removed. On the other hand, it’s usually not necessary to neuter a male hedgehog unless there is a medical reason.
Knowing about your pet’s reproductive habits is important even if you’re not intending on breeding them, especially in female hedgehogs that are prone to certain reproductive cancers. Hedgehogs don’t have periods, so if you see blood, it’s a sign that something is wrong. And since they don’t have periods, it can also make it hard to tell when they are ready to breed if you are trying to breed them. Hopefully, this article was helpful in answering any questions you may have had about your female hedgehog’s reproductive system.
Featured Image Credit: Coatesy, Shutterstock