Hedgehogs After Dark: Courting and mating
25th May 2020
It’s the third week of Hedgehogs After Dark, and this week we’re exploring courting and mating behaviour in hedgehogs.
Courtship in the garden…
Hedgehogs reach sexual maturity in their second year of life, and after this can breed every year until death. They reproduce between April and September, but the period of greatest activity, ‘the rut’, occurs in May and June in Britain.
Males attempt to woo females in lengthy encounters that involve much circling and rhythmic snorting and puffing. The commotion attracts rival males to the scene and courtship can thus be interrupted as interlopers are confronted and rival males square up to one another; head-butting and chases are not uncommon. So don’t worry if you hear quite the racket coming from the garden, it could be hedgehogs!
How do hedgehogs mate? (It’s not a joke!)
The actual process of mating is a delicate operation. The female adopts a special body position with her spines flattened as the male mounts from behind. Radio-tracking studies have shown hedgehogs are promiscuous. Both males and females often have several different mates in a single season, and a litter of hoglets can have more than one father.