Last Updated on August 23, 2022.

Nocturnal, Crepuscular, and Diurnal Defined

  • Animal activity is defined as nocturnal (nighttime), crepuscular (twilight—early morning and late evening), or diurnal (daytime).
  • Hedgehogs are typically described as nocturnal or crepuscular.
  • Most pet hedgehogs sleep during the day, only coming out for an occasional snack or drink.
  • Our article Are Hedgehogs Nocturnal, Crepuscular, or Diurnal? describes this topic in great detail, with many sources and opinions provided.

Hedgehog Activity at Millermeade Farms

  • Almost all hedgehog activity at Millermeade Farms occurs when we turn off the lights for the night.
  • At Millermeade Farms, we feed all our animals in the morning. Many hedgehogs come out to greet us and have snacks but all quickly return to their slumber.
  • Throughout the day, hedgehogs may get up to have a drink or a bite to eat, or use the litter pan, but they are normally not very active in the daytime.
  • The hedgehogs are quite active on cage cleaning days, weaning days, or days when breeding animals are rotated. They love to explore their clean cages before going back to sleep.

Are Hedgehogs Lazy?

  • You may think your hedgehog sleeps all the time, but most likely it is active when you are not.
  • Customers frequently ask questions about, and comment on, their hedgehogs’ lack of daytime activity or “laziness” and wonder if this is normal behavior.
  • Despite sleeping all day, hedgehogs are not lazy. Daytime sleeping is completely normal for nocturnal and crepuscular animals.

Baby Activity Levels

  • Baby hedgehogs sleep quite a bit and have a tendency to sleep more after the stress and activity of going to a new home.
  • The main indicators of health and comfort are adequate levels of eating and drinking, which can be monitored by stool quantity and quality.

Acclimating to Daytime Activity and Handling

  • An average hedgehog does not mind daytime handling, as long as they’re given sufficient time to fully wake up. So often, new owners expect an immediate positive response to being picked up. Be sure to give your hedgehog plenty of time to “get the sleep out of their eyes” before you attempt to pet or handle them. It is also common for a hedgehog to go potty not long after being awakened so beware!
  • Hedgehogs can be gradually acclimated to daytime activity through routine handling and feeding earlier in the day. Some hedgehogs may accept this change more readily than others. 
  • Our friend Coley Emde offers this tip:  “Take your hedgehog out often even if for 15-minute increments throughout the day because then they get more used to their enclosure being touched, opened, and then being picked up, etc. It is okay to do this during the day even if they just want to snuggle. We take our babies and adults out numerous times day and night. Granted they may be likely to be in a more playful mood first thing in the morning and at night. However, by instituting daytime handling, our hedgehogs have been happy to come out during the day for munchies, play time, bath time and then cuddle time. The more positive experiences you build together, the more trust they build with you”
  • You can expect your hedgehog to interact with you when you are handling them or when you put them in a stimulating environment. However, when you return your hedgehog to their cage, they’ll likely return to sleep.
  • No studies have been done concerning the long-term health effects (if any) of adapting a nocturnal or crepuscular animal to a diurnal schedule. Problems resulting from suddenly changing circadian rhythms in humans include insomnia and jet lag. It is recommended to change biological rhythms slowly over an extended period of time.
  • Some hedgehogs may use daytime handling as an opportunity to take a nap in a snuggle sack or bonding bag on you.

Amount of Daytime Handling and Play

  • Different hedgehogs will tolerate different amounts of daytime handling.
  • Some hedgehogs may tolerate short amounts of daytime play, while others may continue to play for several hours.
  • Signs of a hedgehog who is ready to go back to sleep are:  frantically searching for a place to hide, sitting still, or appearing stressed.
  • Your hedgehog may bite out of frustration if you are not paying attention to their signals.  See our article on Ways to Help Prevent & Discourage Biting

Daytime Activity during Excursions

  • Some hedgehogs thrive and enjoy excursions outside their typical settings. This is indicated by not huffing, puffing, balling up, and behaving appropriately in the company of strangers.
  • Excursions might include educational visits to classrooms.
  • While in their pouch or snuggle sack to protect their eyes from the brightness, many hedgehogs enjoy walks outside in the fresh air.
  • Hedgehogs may eat, play, or wheel in full view of the public when their cages are big enough (versus small travel carriers).
  • Even for hedgehogs who enjoy being out and about, any sign of stress or exhaustion should be responded to immediately by returning them to their “safe space.”

Unusual Daytime Activity—Is This Normal?

  • Sometimes hedgehogs exhibit daytime activity without being awakened by their human companions.  Babies are most likely to exhibit unusual activity, especially when they are acclimating to a new cage or a new home away from siblings.
  • We found the following daytime handling comment on Hedgehog Central by Peanut1388:

Peanut is quite well behaved, but the weird thing is he is more sociable in the day than at night. He is supposed to be sleeping in the day when he is in my room upstairs, where it is quiet, but sometimes in the middle of the day he will come out of his cage and grab a bite to eat, take a sip of water, and then go on his wheel or play with his toys for like 5 minutes, and then return back to sleep. It is strange, which makes me wonder if in the nighttime he takes tiny naps because of the 5 minutes of sleep that he lost in the day. He is some fun to watch and he is my special little guy. Every hedgehog has a different personality, I guess (and schedule).

  • Millermeade Farms’ customer McCayla reported that her recently purchased hedgehog is typically up in the morning at 8:00 a.m. and stays awake until 3:00 p.m. before sleeping in the evening and all night long.
  • Adult hedgehogs that exhibit unusual daytime activity should be evaluated/observed for any other unusual behaviors.
  • Behaviors or changes besides usual activity may indicate that something may be physically wrong with your hedgehog or that something in the environment has changed.
  • In some cases, when food intake and output, weight, body temperature, and cage temperature all appear to be normal, the change in schedule is likely just the hedgehog’s choice.

Decrease in Wheel Use

  • Some hedgehogs may suddenly use their wheels less.
  • Hedgehogs who decrease their wheel use may gain weight. Extra time out of the cage may help to increase activity levels in these hedgehogs.
  • Chances are, everything is fine if the hedgehog is eating, drinking, and pooping normally. Things to check:
    • Has the hedgehog outgrown their wheel?
    • What is the temperature? Is it within the 75° to 80° temperature range? Older hedgehogs may require slightly higher temperatures.
    • Do nails need clipped or trimmed?
    • Are there any other gait problems?
    • Has the hedgehog’s mood changed overall?
  • A visit to the veterinarian is in order if you observe any changes other than activity level.

What to Do If You Are Worried about Your Hedgehog’s Health

  • The best way to monitor your hedgehog’s health and activity level is to keep a journal or log of their weight, food intake/output, and behavior.
  • Many breeders and hedgehog enthusiasts use a kitchen scale (that measures in grams) to weigh their hedgehogs and track their weight gain and loss. It is a good idea to weigh your hedgehog the same time every day to get the most accurate measurement and to avoid weight fluctuation at feeding time.
  • Food intake is often directly related to weight gain or loss, so it is important to note any changes in food consumption.
  • You should check your hedgehog’s poop on a daily basis, when spot cleaning their cage.  Healthy hedgehog poop should be a dark brown to blackish color.  Their poop is normally a sausage shaped, toothpaste texture, with a slight point on the end.
  • Writing down your hedgehog’s daily activity may provide a clear picture when behavior changes and help to determine what is normal or abnormal for each animal.

VIDEO.:  Acclimating your hedgehog to a new home

Contributors: Gail Smith, Lori Keller, MaryLynn McDermott, Melissa Ramos, Holly Payton, Coley Emde


peanut1388. (2008, September 28), Behaviour expectations [Forum response]. Retrieved from

peanut1388. (2008, September 28), Behaviour expectations [Forum response]. Retrieved from

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