Birth asphyxia can result in sensory impairment, learning and memory deficits without gross brain injury and severe motor deficits. We developed a model of birth asphyxia resulting in mild neurological injury and cognitive impairment using a long-gestation species with precocial fetal development. Spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus) underwent caesarean-section delivery or 7.5 min of asphyxia at 37 days gestational age (term is 39 days). Brain histology was examined at 1 and 7 days of age, and behaviour was evaluated to 28 days of age. Asphyxiated offspring showed significant impairment in non-spatial memory and learning tasks, accompanied by central nervous system inflammation and increased apoptotic cell death but without the presence of large necrotic or cystic lesions.