The lifespan of a hedgehog depends on the species. There are more than ten different species of hedgehog (including the four-toed hedgehog, the North African hedgehog, the European hedgehog, the long-eared hedgehog and the desert hedgehog).
The smaller species of hedgehog usually live for 2 to 4 years, and the larger species can live for up to 7 years in the wild. In captivity, hedgehogs tend to live for longer. This is due to the fact that they don’t have any predators and always have access to food.
Some captive hedgehogs have reached the age of ten.
In the wild in modern Britain there are several things which can bring about a hedgehog’s demise.
- Badgers eat hedgehogs, and they are occasionally eaten by foxes and birds of prey.
- Hedgehogs can be poisoned by slug pellets, left out by gardeners to kill slugs.
- Hedgehogs are often killed by being run over by cars as they are crossing Britain’s roads.
- Hedgehogs can’t climb up sheer sides. As a result they are sometimes drowned in garden ponds and swimming pools, or starve to death in drains and at the bottom of cattle grids.
- They can also become trapped in litter (plastic cups, tins, yoghurt containers) and tennis nets.
- Many hedgehogs are killed when people have bonfires in their garden (hedgehogs often hibernate in leaf piles and branch stacks), and when areas of vegetation are strimmed.
In 2006 The British Hedgehog Society forced McDonald’s to change the design of their McFlurry containers because hedgehogs were getting stuck in them and dying of dehydration and starvation.
What next? Discover more hedgehog facts.