Fascinating Hedgehog Facts

  • Hedgehogs are small, cute and quite harmless animals.
  • Their order is Erinaceomorpha, this means they are not related to porcupines at all.
  • The name hedgehog came into use around the year 1450, through their preferred foraging habits, derived from the Middle English heyghoge, from heyg, hegge (“hedge”).
  • As they move through the hedges, looking for worms and insects, they make a piggy grunting noise. Hence, hedge-hog.
  • They are also known by other names, such as urchin and hedgepig.
  • THE COLLECTIVE NOUN FOR A GROUP OF HEDGEHOGS IS “ARRAY” OR “PRICKLE”.
  • The female hedgehog is called a sow, and the male hedgehog is called a boar.
  • They can be found through parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, and in England and New Zealand through introduction.
  • The hedgehog can live in many different habitats, from woodland areas, farmlands, gardens, to even in parks or deserts.
  • They like moist places, which are either overground or underground – they find holes or abandoned tunnels in deep forests, under branches, leaves, roots of plants and stems, where they could spend their time.
  • There are 17 different species of hedgehog in the world.
  • These interesting critters have small, but powerful legs and big feet, with five toes each. The exception is the four-toed hedgehog, that has four toes.
  • Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, but excellent senses of smell and hearing, which they primarily rely on.
  • They are from 10 to 30 centimeters (4 to 12 inches) long, depending on species.
  • HEY WEIGH FROM 155 TO 700 AMS ON AVERAGE, DEPENDING ON SPECIES.
  • A hedgeho’s colour ranges from white or light brown, to black, with several shades found in bands along with their quills. Some hedgehogs have a dark brown or black mask across their eyes.
  • The “hair” on the back of a hedgehog is a thick layer of spikes (or modified hairs) known as quills.
  • The quills are hollow and are stiff (about 25 mm long), and are made of keratin – the same substance that our hair and fingernails are made of.
  • A Hedgehog has between 5000 and 7000 quills, and muscles along the animal’s back can raise and lower the quills to respond to threatening situations.
  • EACH QUILL LASTS ABOUT A YEAR, THEN DROPS OUT AND A REPLACEMENT WILL GROW.
  • When they feel alarmed or intimidated (in danger or vulnerable), they curl up into a spiny ball to protect their stomachs, faces, legs, and bellies, which have no quills.
  • Unlike porcupine quills, the spikes of the hedgehog’s quills are not barbed, and they’re not poisonous.
  • They are immune to poisons in some plants, and will sometimes eat these and then make frothy saliva in their mouth, with which they lick their spines, spreading the spit with the plant’s poison all over the spikes, as a safety magnetism.
  • The hedgehog is nocturnal, only coming out at night and spending the day sleeping in a nest under bushes or thick shrubs.
  • Some hedgehogs, in cold climates, hibernate through the winter.
  • To keep themselves warm, they roll themselves up into a little ball and use their nest to keep warm.
  • In warmer climates such as deserts, they sleep through heat and drought in a similar process, called aestivation.
  • IN MORE TEMPERATE AREAS THEY REMAIN ACTIVE ALL YEAR.
  • Some hedgehogs dig burrows in the soil that are up to 50 centimetres deep.
  • Hedgehogs that don’t dig burrows, preferring to make nests with dead leaves, grasses and branches.
  • In some case studies, there are recordings of hedgehogs who can travel up to 3 kilometres a day.
  • Health problems in sows include ovarian, uterine and mammary tumours, while the boars may contract jaw and testicular cancer.
  • Hedgehogs are classified as insectivorous (insect eaters), and their taste for destructive insects makes them a historically welcome presence in English gardens.
  • They eat small creatures such as insects, worms, centipedes, slugs, beetles, caterpillars, snails, mice, frogs and, even, snakes.
  • They are known to consume some vegetation, fruits (berries, watermelons, bananas) and greens.
  • BABY HEDGEHOGS ARE CALLED HOGLETS OR PIGLETS.
  • The young are born in litters and remain with their mothers for only four to seven weeks, before heading out on their own (females must guard against predators in this period).
  • Hedgehog mothers have also been known to move hoglets to a new nest if the nest is disturbed.
  • The hoglets are born blind and without any quills. The quills are present under the skin and emerge in a few hours.
  • THEIR VISION IMPROVES AFTER TWO WEEKS.
  • Within a day, the hoglet’s skin shrinks, and about 150 white quills appear. These quills are soft and flexible.
  • During birth, the quills are covered by puffy, fluid-filled skin to avoid hurting the mother.
  • Newborns look like chubby white caterpillars.
  • The young are suckled by their mother until they can hunt for themselves.
  • AFTER ABOUT 4 TO 5 WEEKS, THE MOTHER WILL TAKE THE YOUNG OUT ON THEIR FIRST FORAGING TRIP AND AFTER ABOUT ANOTHER TEN DAYS, THEY WILL GO THEIR SEPARATE ROUTES.
  • Adult hedgehogs squeal and grunt when they are excited or afraid.
  • Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.

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