Hedgehogs sleep a lot, and that’s part of what makes them so adorable. Few animals are as enigmatic as the humble hedgehog, whose appearance and distinctive spines have caused people to come up with all sorts of questions about their habits—including why such a small animal needs to sleep so much.
Hedgehogs are not only well-known for their adorable faces, but also for their laziness. If you’re a hedgehog owner, you know exactly what we’re talking about. They sleep more than most house cats—which is saying a lot.
While they sleep for up to 20 hours a day, there are several reasons why, which we’re going to explore in this article. Read on to find out more!
How Long Do Hedgehogs Sleep?
Hedgehogs are animals that are extremely busy when they’re awake, but they sleep most of the day. A hedgehog will sleep anywhere from 10 to 18 hours a day (sometimes more) and spend three to four hours searching for food and eating.
In some cases, a hedgehog may sleep up to 20 hours in a day. The same goes for hedgehogs as for humans—the amount of sleep varies between individuals. The average for most hedgehogs is around 15 hours. They do this to stay safe from predators such as owls and hawks that hunt them during the night.
When Do Hedgehogs Sleep?
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning they’re most active during the night. As you know, during the day, they usually sleep for up to 20 hours. The reason why hedgehogs sleep so much is because over time, they’ve adapted to this behavior to survive.
The main cause for this adaptation is predators. The hedgehog’s main predator in the wild is the owl, which hunts at night, so hedgehogs leave very little opportunity for the owl to hunt them by staying out of sight and sleeping.
Another reason why hedgehogs sleep during the day is because of the availability of food. Since their diet consists mostly of insects such as beetles, earwigs, and millipedes, they need to be out during the evening hours. These insects are most active after dark, so hedgehogs must take the opportunity to feed at night. As you know, this makes them vulnerable to predators, but they’re almost never out for long.
Where Do Hedgehogs Sleep?
In the wild, hedgehogs build nests from leaves, twigs, and stems. They prefer to nest in the comfort and security of undergrowth (hence the name “hedgehog”) like this, as it provides protection from predators such as the owl, and makes them difficult to detect by dogs and badgers. To learn more about this check out our article on Where do Hedgehogs Sleep
Do Hedgehogs Hibernate?
Hedgehogs are tiny animals and are extremely vulnerable to cold weather, so hibernation is common when the temperature drops. This makes them one of the only truly hibernating mammals in the wild.
As winter approaches during the late autumn season, hedgehogs go into hibernation, and they will remain in this state until the cold weather begins to subside.
Unlike some hibernating animals, hedgehogs may actually relocate their nesting site during the winter, so they aren’t asleep the entire time. In fact, they aren’t really asleep at all. Instead of sleeping, the hedgehog is able to lower its metabolism and body temperature to help sustain itself through the cold months by conserving energy.
This lowered metabolic state is called “torpor.” It’s dangerous to disturb a hedgehog in hibernation, as they only have so much fat stored up in their bodies, and waking them up will kick their metabolism back into normal functioning—putting them at risk.
So if you notice your hedgehog going into torpor as the weather gets colder, it may be a good idea to let it be for a time, and have supplemental food available for it to eat in case it’s accidentally disturbed during this period.
Hibernation Versus Daily Sleep Patterns
Although it might appear to be completely unconscious during the colder months, hibernation for a hedgehog is very different from its daily sleeping patterns. During hibernation, it’s in a state of torpor, which isn’t necessarily sleep, but it appears similar from the outside.
A hedgehog’s daily sleep, however, is more similar to that of humans. Since hedgehogs are also mammals, they also experience different stages of sleep like humans do. It’s not unusual for a hedgehog to enter a deep state of sleep after a good amount of activity and a large meal.
If your pet hedgehog starts to sleep more and more though, this could be a sign of either preparing to enter hibernation, or an underlying health problem.
Can Hedgehogs Sleep Too Much?
Although it’s perfectly normal for a pet hedgehog to sleep for most of a 24-hour period, there are some things to look out for in case of illness. For example, it will almost always sleep a lot, but if it becomes lethargic while awake and eats less, there’s a chance it could be suffering from some type of illness.
Baby hedgehogs will always sleep more than adults, and if they seem to be sleeping all the time, make sure that you aren’t leaving a light on all the time. They simply won’t come out if there’s light.
Hedgehogs are interesting and sleepy little animals who get anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of sleep each day, and only come out to feed late at night.