Facts about hedgehogs

We found 22 facts about hedgehogs

Insectivorous mammals of the Erinaceidae family

They share an ancestry with moles, shrews, and solenodons. Hedgehogs were introduced to Europe, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand, and currently cannot be found in the wild in the Americas. They appeared in the Oligocene, approximately 30 million years ago. They are very social, easily bind with humans, and are natural allies of gardeners and foresters.

They live in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Hedgehogs occur naturally neither in Australia, nor any Americas. There are several species present in New Zealand by introduction.

The Hedgehog species of Amphechinus was present in North America in the Miocene (23,03-5,3 million years ago) but went extinct.

Depending on the habitat, hedgehogs inhabit forests, grasslands, and deserts.

They are considered large insectivores.

Their body mass ranges from 400 to 1900 grams, with a body length of approximately 40 centimeters. Their body composition is bulky, with a flat head ending with a prolonged snout. The hedgehog’s eyes are small and black.

Their back and sides are covered with spikes.

Spikes are transformed hair, sturdily attached to their bodies. They are neither poisonous nor particularly stingy.

When frightened, hedgehogs roll into a spiky ball and emit characteristic sounds similar to sapping.

Its defense mechanism is effective against most predators, however, desert hedgehogs are not so thickly covered in spikes due to high temperatures, thus they prefer to flee from danger instead.

Despite their ability to fend off most predators, hedgehogs are defenseless against badgers.

Badgers’ long and durable claws are not prone to injury while in contact with hedgehogs’ spikes. The hedgehog population in habitats domiciled by badgers is typically very small.

One of the biggest threats to the lives of hedgehogs is automobile traffic.

Various studies suggest between 50.000 and 100.000 hedgehogs die each year on roads.

Hedgehogs are omnivorous.

They feed on fruits, fungi, other animals, and even carrion. Animal food is, however, the mainstay of nutrition for these mammals. They feed mainly on earthworms, which are easy prey for them, however, they enrich their menu with insects, snails, bird eggs, chicks, small mammals, and amphibians. Hedgehogs are very valuable in controlling crop pest populations.

They are also reported to like dry cat food.

Contrary to folk superstitions and numerous fairy tales, hedgehogs do not eat apples.

Responsible for this myth is Pliny the Elder, a Roman philosopher, who claimed in the encyclopedic Naturalis Historia that hedgehogs stock up apples for winter.

It is not recommended to feed apples to hedgehogs. If, however, there is a will or necessity, apples should be rid of seeds, peeled, and cut into small pieces.

From 1950s to 1980s, hedgehogs were an unofficial symbol of NATO.

Many countries consider hedgehogs a perfect symbol due to their peaceful nature, yet the ability to defend themselves when the need arises.

In moderate climate, hedgehogs fall into winter sleep.

They typically bury themselves under fallen leaves or compost and wake up during summer, when the temperature reaches approximately 15 degrees Celsius.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal.

They sleep through most of the day, hidden in bushes, scrubs, under rocks, or inside burrows. Exceptionally, they can venture out during the day after rainfalls.

They can climb and swim.

Their spikes possess air chambers that support swimming and ensure better buoyancy, allowing them to float on the water's surface.

Not every species, however, possesses this ability. The best swimmers are:

  • Erinaceus europaeus
  • Atelerix albiventris
  • Hemiechinus collaris
  • Hemiechinus auratus
Ancient Persians regarded hedgehogs as sacred animals.

They believed Ahura Mazda, god of the sky, created them as envoys of truth and light. They valued hedgehogs for consuming vermin that destroyed crops.

Females give birth to 3-4 young up to twice a year after 40-58 days of gestation.

Young is scarcely covered with white and brittle spikes. They are born blind, opening their eyes after three weeks. They are nurtured with milk for about six to eight weeks, while their spikes thicken.

An average lifespan is three and a half years.

Their mortality rate is mostly caused by predators, among which are badgers, dogs, or owls. The upper age limit for the western hedgehog is considered to be nine years old, but some specimens exceed that limit.

Dr Sophie Lund Rasmussen of the University of Southern Denmark, during her research, conducted around 700 autopsies of hedgehogs. During her research, she analyzed the jaws of potentially 13- and 16-year-old specimens.

Depending on the species, hedgehogs can have between three and five thousand spikes.
Hedgehogs have particularly well-developed hearing, smell, and taste.

When they eat or smell something foul, they immediately spit white foam of saliva on their spikes.

They can venture several kilometers while searching for food.
They can scream terrifyingly loudly in a very unfavorable, threatening situation.

Hedgehogs make lots of sounds: trotting in search of food, they make a snarling voice, purr or cough. Upset, they puff, snort, and even growl loudly.

They can have up to 44 teeth.

The full set of teeth grows within the first three weeks of life. Hedgehogs do not possess deciduous teeth, thus they have to tend to their teeth with utmost care. Once a tooth is lost, it will not grow back.

There are 17 species worldwide.

They are divided into five genera: erinaceus, paraechinus, mesechi nus, atelerix, and hemiechinus.

The European hedgehog is under partial species protection.
Hungry for more facts?

Latest topics

42 facts about Kyshtym disaster
42 facts about Kyshtym disaster
The first nuclear accident in Earth's history
Before information about it saw the light of day, the Soviets hid it for over 30 years. The explosion at the Mayak combine was the first nuclear accid ...
37 facts about Saint Petersburg
37 facts about Saint Petersburg
A city of many names
It was a dream and a matter of prestige for the Romanov dynasty to gain access to the Baltic Sea and build a metropolis to testify to Russia's emergin ...
32 facts about Peter the Great
32 facts about Peter the Great
The first Emperor of all Russia
Peter the Great is considered one of Russia's greatest rulers. He was a great reformer, strategist, and builder who was the first of the tsars to trav ...
39 facts about Dyatlov Pass incident
39 facts about Dyatlov Pass incident
Mysterious tragedy in the Ural mountains
The case of a group of students at the Ural Polytechnical Institute in Sverdlovsk continues to arouse great interest and raise many questions. A group ...
11 facts about Brooklyn Bridge
11 facts about Brooklyn Bridge
The first steel suspension bridge in the world
It is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world. It connects Brooklyn with Manhattan, runs over the East River, and was completed in 1883. ...
31 facts about Brazil
31 facts about Brazil
South America's largest country
Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America and one of the largest and most populous countries in the world. A former Portuguese ...
44 facts about Ghent
44 facts about Ghent
City of three towers
Ghent is one of Belgium's most visited cities by tourists. This beautiful old Flanders city combines dignity, beauty, culture, and creativity. It is a ...
31 facts about Thailand
31 facts about Thailand
A country on the Indochinese Peninsula
Thailand is an Asian country located in its south-eastern part, famous for its interesting culture and religious architecture. This exotic country, wh ...

Similar topics