Have you ever seen an animal full of spines? No, they are not porcupines. In this article, we are going to study the animal with lots of spines, known as a Hedgehog. Hedgehog animals are small mammals found in Europe, Africa and Asia. They are also kept as pets in some parts of the world and then known as the domesticated hedgehog. The spines of hedgehogs are made up of keratin; it is the same material found in human hair and nails. These spines help them to defend against predators. Sometimes people might call porcupines hedgehogs, but hedgehogs and porcupines are different animals.
Let's see first where hedgehogs live. Hedgehogs are mostly found in deserts, forests, grasslands, marshes and gardens. During the daytime, they sleep under leaves or in holes and are active at night eating insects, slugs, spiders, small reptiles and fallen fruit.
Some domesticated hedgehogs have hair instead of spines; therefore, they are called hairy hedgehogs. They look like rats. They reproduce between April and September. But the activity is maximum in May and June.
They have their hair colour ranging from white to brownish red to black. Their hair may be soft or very rough. Their size can be similar to the size of a mouse or as long as 18 inches (46 centimetres).
Some hedgehog animals are called spiny hedgehogs as they have thousands of sharp spines on their bodies. The spines cover everything of their body except the underside, legs, face and ears. The spines are cream in colour with brown and black bands. Spiny hedgehogs curl their body into a ball when threatened, so only their spines are showing. Through spines, hedgehogs protect themselves from other wild animals. A group of hedgehogs is called an array, but It is extremely rare to see multiple hedgehogs together in one place other than when mating.
The pet hedgehog's diet mainly consists of high-quality hedgehog food mixed with high-quality, low-fat cat food. Gut-loaded insects, such as mealworms and crickets, are supplement foods that can be used in small amounts, two to three times a week. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so milk should never be left out for them. The water is perfectly fine. When a hedgehog smells or tastes something really strong, it attempts to cover itself in foamy saliva, much like a cat cleaning itself. This is called self-anointing.
The hedgehog spikes make their unique animals. The hedgehog is a spiny mammal of the subfamily Erinaceinae in the eulipotyphla. These animals are most famous for their prickly spines. They depend on their spines for defence. Hedgehogs are classified into five genera and seventeen species. Hedgehogs have between 5000 and 7000 spines on their back, which they may raise and drop in response to danger. Each spine lasts about a year before dropping out and being replaced. Globally, there are around 15 different species of hedgehog found.
The Reason Why They are Called Hedgehogs
The ‘Hedge’ part of their name comes from where they build their nests, hedges, bushes and shrubs and the ‘hog’ part comes from the small snorting/grunting sound they make, similar to a pig/warthog. The hedgehog was not always called a hedgehog. Earlier, they were called Urchins, which led to the naming of Sea Urchins.
A Closer View of a Hedgehog
Interesting Facts about Hedgehogs
Interesting facts about hedgehogs are as follows:
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they spend the day sleeping and only emerge at night.
Hedgehogs' long snout is advantageous since it aids in hunting. It even gets in front of their mouths by making it simpler for them to find their main sources of food, which are insects, worms, caterpillars and berries.
As their eyesight is not particularly excellent, they mostly rely on their hearing and scent to hunt instead, however they can see very well in the dark.
There aren’t just one species of hedgehog: There are 15 different species of hedgehog in the world. Each of them looks similar but has small charismatic and habitual differences. The UK only has one native species, the European Hedgehog.
Hedgehogs are solitary animals that leave their mother's care just four to seven weeks after hatching. Except for partnering up to mate with another hedgehog, they live entirely alone.
Hibernation is the process that allows an animal to use less energy when food is hard to find. Hedgehogs use the fat built up in their bodies to survive while hibernating. Some spiny hedgehogs' hibernation period is in the winter. The hedgehog spends the day during their hibernating phase sleeping in a carefully constructed nest in dense undergrowth, under a shed, amid piles of leaves and unlit bonfires. They never sleep or hibernate outside a nest.