Depending on weather and climate, in Germany the hedgehog mating season runs from May to the end
The courtship ritual is called the "hedgehog carousel", as the male circles the female
for hours. At first, the female reacts aggressively to her suitor with bristling spines on her back.
When she submits, mating occurs in the same manner as other mammals: The female is mounted by the male
from behind. During mating, she flattens her spines against her back. After their act of union, the couple
separate. There is no "marriage" between hedgehogs. The male goes on his way and searches for other females,
thus minimising competition for food.
Breeding season and litter sizes
Generally, hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus Linné 1758) in Germany only
breed once a year in August and September. Data collected over twenty years (M. Neumeier) confirms this.
Only in very mild regions, like the Cologne basin, the Rhine valley and Saarland are baby hedgehogs (hoglets)
born as early as the beginning of July or even in June. In these cases, it is not impossible that a second
litter might occur, but it is not at all likely, or corroborated by research data.
Hedgehogs in Germany have between 2 and 10 young in a litter. Data collected over many years (M.Neumeier)
have established an average litter size of between four and five. It takes at least two and a half months from
mating until the young are independent.
Birth and rearing
After a gestation period of about 35 days, the mother hedgehog gives birth to an average of four blind
and deaf young, which she suckles for six weeks during the daytime. At night she goes foraging. At birth
baby hedgehogs (hoglets) already have 100 soft, white spines, which are embedded in the swollen skin on
their backs. The hoglets weigh between 12 and 25 grammes.
When they are 14 days old, their eyes and ears start to open. At 21 days their milk teeth erupt, a few days
later the babies venture out of the nest for the first time and try to find food for themselves. To start with the
little hedgehogs do not find much to eat, so the mother continues to nurse them until their sixth week. At six weeks
old the young hedgehogs are independent and disperse.