30 Interesting Facts About Hedgehogs

  1. Hedgehog is a spiny mammal. However, it is not related to other common spiny animals like porcupines and echidnasThe closest relatives of hedgehogs are shrews, moles, and moonrats.
  2. There are at least 16 recognized species of hedgehogs. They are native to Asia, Africa, and Europe.
  3. Hedgehogs can climb trees up to 30 feet tall. They do so while looking for insects or other food sources. They sometimes fall from trees intentionally or accidentally. The intentional fall is either to save from predators or to reach the ground quickly. These mammals roll over their quills to survive such falls. (Source)
  4. Hedgehogs perform a special behavior known as self-anointing. In this process, the animal foams in the mouth and spreads this foam all over its body by licking. It is probably a self-defensive technique, which either removes its scent or spreads toxic saliva to its body.
  5. There are several differences between hedgehogs and porcupines. Hedgehogs have smaller quills that can’t be detached easily, unlike porcupine’s quills. Compared to 5,000 quills in a hedgehog, a porcupine has around 30,000 quills. Hedgehogs are carnivores compared to the herbivore diet in porcupines. (Source)
  6. An adult hedgehog has between 5,000 and 7,000 spines over its body. These spines are hollow and flexible hairs that become stiff with keratin. Hedgehog defends itself from predators through these spikes by rolling like a ball. (Source)
  7. Hedgehogs are known as Gardner’s best friends. It is due to their consumption of slugs and other pests in the garden. (Source)
    A hedgehog on human hand
    Hedgehogs eat pests in gardens but are invasive in non-native areas

  8. Hedgehogs are one of the worst invasive species outside their native areas. These animals have created problems in introduced places, New Zealand and Scotland, where they compete with native insectivores. (Source)
  9. All hedgehogs species have strong sense of hearing. Some species have large ears, which allow them to detect low-frequency sounds. Their ears move in various directions and provide clue about the direction of moving prey. (Source)
  10. Hedgehogs can transmit fungal infections to humans. These infections are harmful to human skin. (Source)
  11. Eurasian eagle owls, ferrets, weasels, foxes, wolves, and mongooses are the main predators of hedgehogs. (Source)
  12. Hedgehogs are one of few mammals having natural immunity against snake venoms. It is the reason that venomous snakes are part of the hedgehog’s diet. (Source)
  13. Insects like crickets, caterpillars, beetles, earwigs, snails, and slugs form the main diet of hedgehogs. But these mammals are immune to several toxins, which allow them to consume millipedes, spiders, snakes, scorpions, bees, and other venomous and poisonous animals. (Source)
  14. Hedgehogs can transmit Salmonella bacteria to humans. Therefore, special care is necessary while handling them.
  15. Most hedgehog species are nocturnal, while other have crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn) behavior. They are among the sleepiest animals and sleep up to 18 hours a day.
  16. Hedgehogs rarely suffer from a condition known as “Balloon syndrome.” A traumatic event or infection can cause a collection of gas underneath the skin that increases the size of the animal to twice its natural size. This condition is unique to hedgehogs, which can develop due to their ability to curl up. (Source)
  17. In a few countries, eating hedgehog meat is considered beneficial for asthma patients. But there is no scientific study to prove this claim. Instead, this meat can trigger allergic reactions in severe asthma.
  18. Under stressful conditions, mother hedgehog may reject or even eat its newborn babies. Male hedgehogs can also eat young hedgehogs.  
  19. Hedgehogs are born deaf and blind. At birth, a fluid keep their prickles soft that prevent injury to the mother. This fluid dries within an hour.
  20. The average lifespan of hedgehogs is 2 years. Unlike many other mammals, male hedgehogs live longer than females. According to a discovery in Denmark, the oldest European hedgehog lived for 16 years. (Source)
  21. The African pygmy hedgehog is the smallest and most common pet species. Obesity and eye injuries are common problems faced by these pet hedgehogs. (Source)
  22. Pet hedgehogs suffer from several diseases common in humans. These include cancer, fatty liver disease, pneumonia, etc. (Source)
  23. Sea urchins are similar in shape to hedgehogs. They are also named after hedgehogs as the initial name of this land mammal in old English was “urchins.” (Source)
    Sea urchins in deep sea
    Sea urchins were named after hedgehogs
     
  24. International Hedgehog Olympic Games (IHOG) are held in the USA. Selected hedgehogs take part in different sports during this event. (Source)
  25. Hedgehogs have been present on earth for millions of years and are among the oldest mammals. According to estimates, they also lived alongside dinosaurs.
  26. Hedgehogs were initially domesticated in the 4th Century BC by Romans. These animals were used in textiles and as food and medicine in ancient history. (Source)
  27. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Dairy products can cause stomach problems. Milk and regular cheese are more harmful to them than plain yogurt and cottage cheese. (Source)
  28. Hedgehogs are one of the few true hibernating animals. They usually hibernate from October/November to March/April.
  29. The average running speed of a hedgehog is 4 mph. They can cover a distance of 2 miles per day. 
  30. Hedgehog quills are sharp, but these animals can be held without any protection when they’re calm because their quills are in a relaxed position. They have pointed quills when they are angry or scared. In this situation, hedgehogs can be handled with gloves or a thick towel. (Source)

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