Is my visiting hedgehog a girl or a boy? I’m often asked this question. The challenge of working it out often leads to many just being called ‘Spike’, which I guess works for either…..
There are a few ways you can tell what sex your hedgehog is. The first does depend on the hedgehog being cooperative and uncurling for you. You could also pop it into a see-through box so that you can take a sneaky look from underneath.
A male hedgehog has a large ‘belly-button’ about halfway up its tummy. This isn’t really a belly button but is actually his penile sheath. You can see this clearly in the pic below.
You can tell a female hedgehog because her vulva is directly above her anus. You can see this in the pic below. Although it looks as if she has a protruding part, you will see that there is no gap between it and her anus. If she were a boy, she would have a ‘belly button’ like Alex a couple of cm up in the area of belly that you can see exposed and a gap between that and the anus.
Another way of identifying the sex of your visiting hedgehogs is to observe their behavior. If you aren’t able to catch your visiting hedgehogs physically ‘in the act’ (which makes it very clear which is which!), you are more likely to see hedgehog courtship behaviour. You will certainly hear it! The male will chase and circle the female. The female will be the one being circled around and making the ‘huffing’ sound. This brilliant film featuring David Attenborough shows you everything you need to know and more!
Many people wonder if male and female hedgehogs can be identified by their size. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible because there are so many other factors influencing the size of a hedgehog including age, nutrition and whether females are pregnant. Like humans, some hedgehogs will naturally be smaller or larger than others and some will eat more or less than others!
Good luck and do let me know how you get on!
I run a hedgehog hospital in York. You can read more about my work here. My work is entirely self funded. If you have found this information useful, you can read more about me here and also how to support my work here.
I also make silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife to raise vital funds for the hospital. You can visit my online jewellery shop here.