Life Expectancy: How Old Do Hedgehogs Live?

Actually, hedgehogs can live to a very old age for their small size, but since the appropriate habitat is often lacking and there are also enough food and other enemies, most of the useful animals barely even reach 30% of their actual life expectancy.

To the point

  • hostile human environment more dangerous than predators
  • natural life expectancy between seven and ten years
  • most animals die between the second and third year of life
  • create natural environment for animals to survive
  • many males are run over during the mating season in search of a female

Life expectancy


Theoretically, the small cute spiny animals have a life expectancy of between seven and ten years. But most of them do not live that long, because they are torn out of their young life by accidents or predators. A four-year-old animal is already considered old, although this is only the average age that the animals could expect under good living conditions:

  • high mortality rate at a young age
  • already with the freshly born natural selection
  • many young animals do not survive first hibernation
  • often too little food to prepare for sleep
  • older animals usually only live between two and three years
  • hardly any hedgehog dies of old age weakness

Note: Hedgehogs also hibernate in the city, which should not be disturbed. Therefore, you should not remove piles of twigs or branches from the corners of the garden before winter, an animal could already be sleeping here. Animals accustomed to humans also often build their nests in close proximity to the house.

Life shortening factors


Most deaths at a young age of hedgehogs are due to the hostile environment created by humans. Not only in cities, but also in rural areas, animals suffer from the fact that it is becoming increasingly unsafe for them and many dangers lurk, sometimes simply created unknowingly. These include:

  • Vehicles of all kinds
  • wide roads or paths
  • manholes and pits
  • nets, fences or walls in the garden
  • Burning piles of leaves in the garden that serve as hiding places
  • Insecticides and lack of fallen fruit make foraging difficult
Igel überquert Straße

Note: This is especially problematic during the mating season. Males forget all caution when searching for a female and are often run over.

Natural predators
Natural predators, in addition to the threatening created environment, can also be to blame for the early death of nocturnal animals. However, it is far less common than accidental deaths for animals to fall victim to enemies, especially when the habitat is urban. Natural enemies include:

Badger
Fox
marten
Eagle owl

Frequently asked questions


I have heard that hedgehogs transmit fleas, is this true?


Yes, unfortunately it is true. Because the cute animals are true flea transporters. Therefore, you should also be careful not to let a dog near them, let alone let him sniff them. Because quickly the fleas have jumped over to the dog, especially if the last administration of a spot-on preparation has been a long time ago. If you have to touch an animal yourself, you should protect yourself with gloves and long-sleeved clothes.

How can I avoid burning a hedgehog in an Easter bonfire?


Often, the branches and twigs for an Easter or other custom bonfire are piled up days in advance. However, hedgehogs see this as an invitation to find shelter here. Therefore, it makes more sense to build up everything just before the lighting. Otherwise, a lot of noise must be made all around before lighting, so that the hedgehogs that may have nested here can escape.

How many species of hedgehog are there in Europe?


In the local areas there are two species of the popular animals. The brown-breasted hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is native to the whole country. Rarer is the Northern White-breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus), which is found only in the peripheral areas of eastern Germany.

How can I help the hedgehogs for a longer life?


It is important that the animals are provided with a near-natural environment. Because as so-called culture followers they have adapted to humans and like to stay in populated areas. Here they sleep the day away in nests they have built themselves. In order to create a habitat for the animals that is as natural as possible and so that they can also find enough food, it is advisable to create a near-natural garden.

Are hedgehogs solitary animals?


Yes, most of the time they are alone and especially the males avoid rivals. Only at mating time are the males on the lookout for a suitable female.

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