The hedgehog is a small mammal with cone-shaped faces and short legs, with a coat of porcupine-like quills.
Quinils on hedgehogs don’t come off easily. Like human nails, hedgehog quills are actually made from keratin. A hedgehog can have up to 6,000 quills.
Hedgehogs roll into a ball when they find themselves in danger so that the quills cover their entire body and protect them from predators. Once rolled up, they must stay still.
While curled into a ball, they cannot roll.
Hedgehog Facts for Kids
- Hedgehogs sleep all day and only emerge at night.
- There are seventeen different species of hedgehog
- Hedgehogs eat things like insects, mice, berries, melons, mushrooms
- Hedgehogs range from 14 to 30 centimeters in length.
- Hedgehogs are covered with sharp spines.
- As they have poor eyesight, they rely on hearing and smell.
- A group of hedgehogs is known as an array
Types of Hedgehogs
In the U.S., most hedgehogs belong to one of two African species.
One type is called the four-toed hedgehog, which originated in the desert areas of Southern Africa.
They can weigh up to 24 ounces and are seven to nine inches long.
North African species get up to 14 inches and 35 ounces in weight.
Hedgehogs from the northern part of Africa are called Algerian hedgehogs and have shorter faces and six toes on the back feet.
However, both species have a white belly with dark brown quills.
The European hedgehog is found throughout Europe, from Iberia and Italy up north to Scandinavia.
We commonly find it in many habitat types, and they can survive across a wide range of environments.
They are one of the largest hedgehog breeds weighing around five pounds when fully grown.
Usually brown in color, they have a furry face and belly and eat snails, beetles, and slugs
Most hedgehogs live for only about two years, despite their average lifespan of 14 years, due to being run over by cars and losing their habitat.
The four-toed hedgehog is found throughout central and eastern Africa. The species name is derived from the number of toes on its hind feet.
Originally from sub-Saharan Africa, you can find them in crop fields and savanna areas.
Their body is white with a dark head and has short legs and four toes. Despite their relatively small size, these hedgehogs are very active and noisy.
Because of their embedded quills, they never shed. It prefers several types of habitats, such as thickets, woods, bushes, suburban gardens, and agricultural land.
A male will make a birdlike call during mating and will usually make various types of grunts, hisses, twitters, and even snorts.
Beetles, termites, and even scorpions are among what they eat. Other food items include tomatoes, earthworms, snakes, frogs, fungi, and leeches.
Among the species of hedgehogs in Central Asia and some Middle Eastern countries is the long-eared hedgehog. It prefers temperate climates.
They live in burrows they dig or find and are distinguished by their long ears and short spikes. They are one of the smallest species of hedgehog.
They don’t curl into a ball when defending themselves. Instead, they release their spikes and run away. Compared to other types of hedgehogs, it moves very fast.
Desert hedgehogs are small and grow to about six inches. They are found mainly in northern Africa and the Middle East.
When threatened, they curl up into a tight ball, and their long quills spiral in every different direction.
All hedgehog species huddle together and expose only their spikes, but when threatened, desert hedgehogs will often try running, and spiking balls will be a second option.
They eat snakes, scorpions, and various invertebrates.
Evolution has given them kidneys that are highly evolved so that they can go days without drinking water.
These hedgehogs are among the toughest on the planet.
The Brandt’s Hedgehog is native to parts of the Middle East and part of Central Asia.
It is about 10 inches long with large ears and a dark body. The normal weight is about two pounds.
This desert hedgehog prefers rugged terrain and the mountains.
If any predator’s attack, it curls up into a ball they can also surprise their attackers with a jumping action which tends to put them off and they flee.
Additionally, it goes into hibernation when it is cold out.
How did the hedgehog get its name?
Hedgehogs got their name from their hunting habits.
The ‘Hedge part of their name stems from the places it searches for their favorite food in hedges and undergrowth.
The ‘hog’ part comes because they make a snorting or grunting sound that is similar to a pig/warthog.
Where do hedgehogs live?
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means that they only come out at night time.
During the day, they spend most of the time sleeping, and you’ll find them hiding in bushes or in amongst shrubbery.
They are found in many places around the world. You will find them all over the United Kingdom and in many parts of Europe, except you don’t find many in the northern part of Europe and Russia.
They were introduced in Australia and New Zealand because there are no species of hedgehog that are native to either of these countries.
Many different species are also found in East Africa, West Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Depending on the species, they can be found on the branches and leaves, which is where they spend most of the time. So species are found in rugged Woodland areas and farmlands. And we have also discussed that some live in the desert under different conditions to the European cousins.
They tend to live in areas where they can find food easily. Insects are a great meal for the hedgehog, and this is one of their go-to meals every day.
They like to stay very local to their hideaway, but if they need to, they will travel up to 2 miles at night in search of food.
Unfortunately, the hedgehog cannot see very well, and the use of the census like hearing and smell to point them in the right direction for food.
In rural areas, they are very much liked by farmers and gardeners because they eat pests that tend to ruin the plants and vegetables that they have planted.
In more suburban areas, people seem to like hedgehogs and will often put out cat food and dog food for them to eat. If this is a routine, it keeps them coming back to this area which also helps to keep pesky pests out of the garden.
What do Hedgehogs Eat?
We know that hedgehogs love to eat. They are carnivores, and they like to eat lots of insects, centipedes, frogs, mice, and worms, just to name a few.
They will also eat lots of fruits and nuts.
Here’s one surprise you may not be aware of: they like to eat snakes.
They are naturally immune to snake venom. They have proteins in their blood that neutralizes and protects them against snake venom.
What Are Baby Hedgehogs Called?
Baby hedgehogs are “hoglets” which sounds very cute
A male hedgehog is called a “boar,” and female hedgehogs are “sow.”
The names are the same as the ones we give to pigs.
Why are Hedgehogs Prickly?
Hedgehogs are prickly as it helps protect them against predators. Animals like badgers and foxes like to eat them for dinner.
When a hedgehog senses danger, it curls up into a tiny small ball. This is when you see all the prickly spines sticking out. It helps to keep them safe.
Why Do Hedgehogs Hibernate?
Some hedgehogs hibernate while others do not. Wild hedgehogs that live in warmer climates tend not to hibernate.
During the winter, hedgehogs in cold climates hibernate.
Depending on where the hedgehog lives they hibernate between November and March.
They do this to save energy and simply because there is less food around for them to eat during the colder months.
Before they hibernate, they will eat large amounts of food during the autumn. However, they will wake up at some stage during hibernation just to get a little bit more comfortable in the nest.
When Can I See a Hedgehog?
Your best bet is to see them at night
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the daytime.
It’s been suggested that they come out at night time because it is much safer for them.
There are fewer animals competing for food, and many of their predators are sleeping. For example, they like to eat insects at nighttime words. Birds also like to eat insects, and they are sleeping at night.
This allows the hedgehog to have access to as many bugs as they want.
Do Hedgehogs Eat Frogs?
As hedgehogs begin to emerge from hibernation in March they are hungry. At the same time frogs and toads are also starting to come out of hibernation.
A hedgehog will eat a frog if the opportunity presents itself
Fun Hedgehog Facts
The head and body of adult hedgehogs are between 5 and 12 inches long and have a tail length between 1 and 2 inches.
Though the hedgie has gained in popularity as a pet, many cities and states still classify it as wild animals and will not allow it to be kept as a pet.
Hedgehogs have a method of providing themselves with extra protection. They can eat poisonous plants without being harmed, so they make frothy saliva to ward off disease.
Most domesticated hedgehogs are African pygmy hedgehogs, which are hybrids between white-bellied and four-toed hedgehogs.