Here are some facts about hedgehogs.
- The Latin name for the European hedgehog is Erinaceus europaeus.
- They are found throughout Europe.
- The snuffling noises they make as they search for their food in hedgerows gave hedgehogs their name.
- Hedgehogs eat insects, worms, snails, mice and frogs.
- They are nocturnal and sleep all day in nests under bushes or in woodland areas.
- They hibernate in winter because their food supply becomes incredibly scarce during the coldest months of the year. Hedgehogs construct a special hibernation nest called a hibernaculum. During hibernation their body temperature drops and their breathing rate slows dramatically. when they emerge from hibernation, hedgehogs have often lost half their body weight and they must find large quantities of food quickly. (Click here to learn more about hedgehog hibernation)
- Hedgehogs have a coat of about 5000 spines. These act as a defence against foxes and badgers. When a hedgehog is threatened, it can curl up into a spiky ball, protecting its belly and face.
- Hedgehogs have an excellent sense of smell, and they use their long snouts to sniff out their prey.
- Hedgehogs are solitary animals and they only come together to mate. The male hedgehog (the boar) isn’t involved in rearing any offspring.
- Female hedgehogs (sows) give birth to litters ranging from 1 to more than 10 babies. The young are born blind but they soon learn to hunt and will be surviving on their own after 2 – 3 months.
- There are more than 10 different species of hedgehog.
- Each hedgehog may be home to more than 500 fleas. Luckily, these fleas rarely bite humans.
- Hedgehogs have adapted well to living alongside humans. They are able to sleep in garden hedges and they have developed a taste for dog and cat food and can often be seen finishing a meal intended for a family pet.
- Hedgehogs are much quicker than people think, and they can travel up to 3 km a night when they are looking for food.
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