Babies lose baby teeth, and so do baby animals — including baby hedgehogs, like the nature center’s animal ambassador Luna.

However, hedgehogs also lose something else as they grow — their quills!

Photo of a baby hedgehog

Baby hedgehogs are born with spines, but at that time their skin is swollen and covers their spines so that they do not injure the mother during birthing. The swelling decreases over a few days and the spines are revealed and others begin to grow in.

As early as four weeks, the baby hedgehog’s spines may begin to fall out as new adult spines take their places. That process continues for the next six months or so until all of the baby spines are replaced with thicker adult spines, just like human baby teeth progressively fall out to make room for adult teeth.

During this phase, a baby hedgehog will be sensitive, because the new quills growing in are thicker and stretch the follicle, making it uncomfortable for the hedgehog. It might be grumpy, moody or antisocial during this time.

Some hedgehogs have multiple “quillings” throughout their lives. Some have a second quilling around age one, although it could be so minute that an owner doesn’t notice it. They will also lose quills throughout their lives, just like humans shed hair. Those lost quills will be replaced with new ones.

The quilling process is always gradual. There will never be a time that a hedgehog has bald spots or goes bald, unless some other medical issue is at play.

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