Get the lowdown on one of our planet’s cutest critters with our fascinating hedgehog facts!
It’s time for the lowdown on one of our planet’s cutest critters! Ready? Then check out our adorable hedgehog facts…
Fast hedgehog facts
Scientific name: Erinaceus
Family name: Erinaceidae
IUCN status: Least concern
Lifespan (in wild): Around seven years
Weight: Up to 1.1kg
Body length: 14cm – 30cm
Top speed: 9.5km/h bursts
Habitat: Grassland, hedgerows, woodland and meadows
Hedgehogs are famous for their prickly spines, which they have everywhere except on their face, legs and bellies. These cute critters depend on their spines for defense, both while they sleep and when they face enemies. By curling into a tight ball and tucking in their heads, tail and legs, they protect vulnerable parts of their body.
The body of adult hedgehogs ranges from 14 to 30 centimetres long, and their tail can add one to six centimetres. When they are born (there can be up to seven in a litter) their spines are soft and short. But soon after birth, their spines harden, becoming stiffer, sharper and longer. Babies stay in the nest until they”re about three weeks old. By that time, their eyes are open, their spines are effective and they can safely follow their mother outside the nest as she looks for food.
Top on the hedgehog”s menu are insects, followed by small mice, snails, lizards, frogs, eggs and even snakes. Mostly nocturnal creatures, they head out at night in search of food – but they are sometimes active during the day, too, particularly after it rains.
Hedgehogs have a trick up their, errr, “sleeve” to give themselves extra protection – “self anointing.” These amazing animals are immune to certain poisonous plants, which they eat before making a frothy saliva in their mouth. The hedgehogs then lick their spines, spreading the saliva with the plant”s poison all over the spikes. Scientists believe this may help hedgehogs hide their scent from predators, or give them a nasty shock shock should they attack!
There are 15 different species of hedgehog, found across Europe, Asia and Africa. Whilst these cool creatures mainly stay on the ground, they are quite good swimmers and can climb trees, too!
Hedgehog on tree stump: Zorandim, Dreamstime. Hedgehog on grass: Creativenature1, Dreamstime. Hedgehog on black background: Eastmanphoto, Dreamstime. Map of hedgehog distribution: National Geographic Maps.