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Did hedgehogs catch your interest? Have you just recently discovered the sweet spiny mammals and are ready to learn more about them? Well, you've come to the right place!
Whether it's their unique facial features or delightful eating habits, these adorable animals have many things that make them stand out from other mammals. Here are some fun hedgehogs facts you should know. Let's dive in!
Did you know that there are 17 species of hedgehog, the largest ones being European hedgehogs? While they may look similar, each species has its little quirks. For starters, different species of hedgehogs live in different places.
Hedgehogs are native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand. In Europe, they can be found in many countries, including Germany, Italy, France, and even Russia. In Asia, hedgehogs are mainly found in China and Japan, parts of India, and some Middle Eastern countries.
Africa is home to four different types of hedgehogs, including the North African Hedgehog native to Morocco and Tunisia. One species of hedgehog found in New Zealand is the North Island Hedgehog, which is endemic to that region only.
So wherever you are around the world, chances are you will have some form of hedgehog nearby!
One of the most exciting behaviors hedgehogs practice is called self-anointing. When a hedgehog encounters something new, they take an object, sometimes a fruit or dried leaf, and rub it all over themselves. This typically results in them smelling like their newfound object. Scientists aren't quite sure why they do this, though some have posited that it's because when something smells strange to the hedgehog, they want to mask their scent so predators won't be able to find them.
To prove this hypothesis, scientists have placed different scents in tanks with hedgehogs and observed their behavior. They found that the hedgehogs would take longer to self-anoint if a predator was present than when no predator was around. This suggests that self-anointing is indeed used as a form of camouflage!
Hedgehogs are known for their ability to resist snake venom. While hedgehogs are not immune to it, their bodies have specialized mechanisms to withstand venomous snake bites without experiencing adverse reactions. One of these mechanisms is producing a protein called erinacin, effective against a wide range of venomous snakes.
Additionally, hedgehogs have a natural immunity to some types of venom, including that of the rattlesnake. This resistance to this venom is thought to have evolved as a defense mechanism against predators, such as snakes, in their natural habitats. While the exact mechanisms behind hedgehogs' resistance to snake venom are still being studied, it is clear that these prickly creatures have a remarkable ability to protect themselves from potentially lethal snake bites.
Did you know hedgehogs can have around four to seven thousand spines covering their backs? That's more than any other mammal has! But why do they need so many spines?
Hedgehogs use sharp spines to protect themselves from predators. When threatened, they roll up into a tight ball, so the predator can't get to them—it's called 'balling up.' The spines act like a shield and keep them safe. The quills are made of keratin and have bands of microscopic barbs and hooks, so there is no danger of them getting detached from their skin.
The strength of the quills also helps with communication between hedgehogs and grooming themselves. Hedgehogs can make different sounds by pumping air through their quills! And like cats licking their fur for cleaning purposes, hedgehogs use their quills to groom themselves by pushing off dirt, leaves, and bugs that might be stuck in them.
So next time you look at sweet little hogger, be sure to appreciate those thousands of quills that make it possible for them to survive in the wild, communicate with each other and keep super clean!
Did you know that hedgehogs rely much more on their hearing and smell than their eyesight? It's been shown that hedgehogs are primarily active at night and rely on sounds or smells to detect prey.
For example, a hedgehog foraging for food will move its head around to locate the sound of food, sometimes up to 30 times a second! One study also found they can detect odors up to 30 feet away. This is why hedgehogs often find food hidden under piles of leaves or logs.
Their sense of smell and hearing helps hedgehogs in other ways, too. Not only does it help them find food, but it is also helpful for avoiding predators. That's why if you come too close to a hedgehog in the wild, it won't just sit there looking cute—most likely, it will run away!
Did you know that hedgehogs and porcupines are different animals? It's true! While they may look similar, hedgehogs are classified as insectivores, and porcupines are rodents.
One way to tell them apart is by size. Hedgehogs are much smaller than their prickly cousins, the porcupines. Hedgehogs can range from about 4 to 12 inches long, while porcupines can get up to 3 feet long!
Another difference between these two animals is the type of spikes they have. Hedgehog spines are hollow hairs made of keratin, just like your fingernails or hair. On the other hand, porcupine quills (or needles) are thicker and made of fused hairs with a sharp tip and several tiny barbs facing backward—ouch!
The last big difference between hedgehogs and porcupines is their diet. Hedgehogs mostly eat insects and other small invertebrates, while porcupines feed on plants and vegetation like grasses and herbs.
So there you have it—the next time you see one of these in the wild, you'll know whether it's a hedgehog or a porcupine!
Who could forget that cute little hedgehog from Sonic? Sure, you may have thought of hedgehogs as just video game fodder, but these little critters are living animals in the wild! And they're pretty fascinating—here are a couple more facts you should know about them before introducing them to other pets in your home!
Did you know that wild hedgehog may typically only live around 2-5 years? That's not very long when compared to other animals. But pet hedgehogs can live up to 6-7 years.
Hedgehogs have spikes on their backs which can prick anything that comes in contact with them. While they make great prickly shields against predators and help the hedgehog keep cool in hot weather. The spikes create air pockets that help with airflow, keeping the hedgehog cool even on the hottest summer days.
But don't worry if you ever find one of these critters at home—their spines aren't strong enough to puncture human skin!
Hedgehogs typically give birth to four to six hoglets at a time, though having up to nine babies is not unusual! Baby hedgehogs have soft spines when they're born, and it takes about a week to harden up.
In general, having a hedgehog in your garden is good news because they eat all sorts of insects you don't want around — like slugs, snails, worms, or caterpillars — so you won't have to worry about using chemicals as much. Hedgehogs do like to dig, though, so if you have flower beds, it might be something to keep an eye on.
Hedgehogs hibernate from late October through March or April, depending on where they live and how cold the weather is; this is how they survive winter when food isn't abundant. During this period, they only wake up once every few days!
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