Animal profile: Hedgehog
The taxonomy of hedgehogs, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, is:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Erinaceomorpha
- Family: Erinaceidae
- Genera: Atelerix, Erinaceus, Hemiechinus, Mesechinus, Paraechinus
- Species: 16 are recognized. Examples include: Atelerix albiventris (African pygmy hedgehog, four-toed hedgehog), Erinaceus roumanicus (Northern white-breasted hedgehog), Hemiechinus auritus (Long-eared hedgehog), Paraechinus aethiopicus (Desert hedgehog)
3-8 years up in the wild and at least 10 years in a friendly environment.
Number of young at birth: 1 to 10
Weight at birth: Less than 1 ounce (3 to 25 grams)
Age of maturity: 9 to 11 months
Length: 10 to 30 centimeters
Weight: 155 to 1,584 grams
Hedgehogs are named by the way of living and eating according to the article at the national geographic. The root underneath hedges and other vegetation, making snorting noises like a hog. But these tiny creatures are also known as a pincushion with legs due to their porcupine-like quills. They have a cone-shaped face with the shortest possible legs.
Its entire body including its face belly and neck is covered with hair. These fascinating clitters have the tiniest yet strongest feet with five toes each. Hedgehogs are seen in white or light brown or black, with amazing several different shades that can be found on their quills. It is also known as amazing diggers due to their curved claws. And their wet nose provides them an absolute sense of smell, with profitably large ears giving them a good sense of hearing as well.
According to Animal Planet, the quills of hedgehogs are hair on the back of this mammal which is thick and spiked. These quills are made up of keratin and are difficult to detach from their bodies. This creature can have as many as 6000 quills on its body, according to the article at the African wildlife foundation.
This little but intellectual mammal whenever in danger, rolls itself into a ball such that its quills cover the entire area of its body and help it to protect from predators, says National Geographic. However it’s also a myth that they can roll when turned into a ball, but it just can stay still like a rock.
The hedgehog’s closest relatives are moonrats, shrews, and moles. People often confuse porcupines and hedgehogs because the two share a common characteristic: quills!
In Europe, people consider hedgehogs to be friends of backyards and gardens. These hedgehogs are often found in flower beds, vegetable gardens, and compost heaps. Some gardeners make nests of straw, hay, or boxes attract hedgehogs. In turn, the hedgehogs eat snails, slugs, and other garden pests.
WHAT MAKES HEDGEHOG A SPECIAL CREATURE?
- Moving at a speed of 2 meters per second, this creature tends to travel up to 3 km per day.
- Hedgehog will first bite the stinger off the tail to have a scorpion in its dinner. These brave creatures also love having dangerous and venomous snakes as the meal.
- Such a lazy mammal, that needs to sleep the whole day for 18 hours but manages to stay up all night.
- To keep their distance from the parasites hedgehogs often smear lots of foamy salivae all over their quills.
HABITAT AND DIET
- According to the article from LiveScience, The hedgehog can live in many different habitats, from desert to forest and beyond! But Hedgehogs live on the ground, never in trees. Others prefer to make nests with dead leaves, grasses, and branches. Desert hedgehogs hide between boulders or burrow into the sand to escape the desert heat.
- Hedgehogs are insectivores. But they can also eat other ground-dwelling creatures such as slugs and snails. The European hedgehog dines on earthworms, beetles, millipedes, caterpillars, slugs, snails, earwigs, and birds’ eggs and chicks.
- Some hedgies, like those in Africa’s deserts, even eat dead wildlife, small rodents and snakes, and scorpions. The menu of a South African hedgehog includes all the above as well as fungi, frogs, lizards, termites, grasshoppers, and moths.
- Don’t forget the veggies! Some hedgies include fruit, roots, grass, leaves, and seeds along with their creepy-crawly main course.
Hedgehogs only give birth once per year after a gestation of four to six weeks. Their litters usually consist of four to seven young at one time. Each baby hedgehog is called a hoglet or piglet.
Typically, the mother protects her piglets from predators as even the father may try to eat the young. Sometimes, if the nest is disturbed, the mother may even become the predator and will eat her young.
After four to seven weeks, piglets are on their own. At nine to 11 months they are fully mature and will live three to eight years in the wild or up to 10 years in captivity, according to the San Diego Zoo.
The reports from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), hedgehogs are marked as the least concerning creatures. This also suggests its growing and not threatened population.
A “hedgehog highway” has been created at a South Lanarkshire railway station.
According to the article at BBC, marking the conservation of hedgehogs, a Hedgehog Highway has been constructed at South Lanarkshire Railway Station. Hedgehogs were becoming trapped under the fence at the station to stop animals from getting trapped, small holes have been cut at regular intervals along the bottom of the boundary fencing at Lanark to allow the animals to move around the station grounds more freely.