Interesting Hedgehog Facts (2024)

Hedgehogs (Erinaceidae) are a group of insectivores that are native to parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Hedgehogs are small mammals with rotund bodies and distinct spines made of keratin. They come by their unusual name as a result of their foraging behavior: They root through hedges to find worms, insects, and other food while making pig-like grunting sounds.

Fast Facts: Hedgehog

  • Scientific Name: Erinaceus
  • Common Name(s): Hedgehog, urchin,hedgepig,furze-pig
  • Basic Animal Group:Mammal
  • Size: Head and body: 5 to 12 inches; tail: 1 to 2 inches
  • Weight: 14–39 ounces
  • Lifespan: 2–7 years depending on species
  • Diet:Omnivore
  • Habitat:Parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, New Zealand (as an exotic species)
  • ConservationStatus:Least Concern


Hedgehogs have a round body and dense spines on their back. Their belly, legs, face, and ears are free of spines. The spines are cream-colored and have brown and black bands on them. Hedgehog spines resemble those of a porcupine but they are not easily lost and are only shed and replaced when young hedgehogs reach adulthood or when a hedgehog is unwell or stressed.

Hedgehogs have a white or tan face and short limbs with long curved claws. They have poor vision despite their large eyes but they have a keen sense of hearing and smell, and they use their sharper senses of smell and hearing to help them locate prey.

Interesting Hedgehog Facts (1)

Habitat and Distribution

Hedgehogs are found in many locations across Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are not present in Australia, North America, Central America or South America, though have been introduced to New Zealand as an exotic species. Hedgehogs occupy a variety of habitats including forests, grasslands, scrublands, hedges, suburban gardens, and agricultural areas.


Although they belong to the group of mammals formerly known as the insectivores, hedgehogs eat a varied diet that includes more than just insects. Hedgehogs feed on a variety of invertebrates such as insects, snails, and slugs as well as some small vertebrates including reptiles, frogs and birds' eggs. They also feed on plant materials such as grass, roots, and berries.


When threatened, hedgehogs crouch and hiss but they are better known for their defensive tactics than their might. If provoked, hedgehogs usually roll up by contracting the muscles that run along their back and in doing so raise their spines and curl their body and enclosing themselves in a protective ball of spines. Hedgehogs can also run quickly for short periods of time.

Hedgehogs are for the most part nocturnal mammals. They are occasionally active during the day but more often shelter themselves in shrubs, tall vegetation or rock crevices during daylight hours. Hedgehogs construct burrows or use those dug by other mammals such as rabbits and foxes. They make nests underground in burrow chambers that they line with plant material.

Some species of hedgehogs hibernate for several months during the winter. During hibernation, the body temperature and heart rate of the hedgehogs decline.

Reproduction and Offspring

Hedgehogs are generally solitary animals that spend time with one another only during mating season and when rearing young. Young hedgehogs mature in four to seven weeks after birth. Each year, hedgehogs can raise as many as three litters of young with as many as 11 babies.

Hedgehogs are born blind and gestation lasts up to 42 days. Young hedgehogs are born with spines that are shed and replaced with larger stronger spines when they mature.


Hedgehogs are divided into five subgroups that include Eurasian hedgehogs (Erinaceus), African hedgehogs (Atelerix and Paraechinus), desert hedgehogs (Hemiechinus), and steppe hedgehogs (Mesechinus). There are a total of 17 species of hedgehogs. Hedgehog species include:

  • Four-toed hedgehog, Atelerix albiventris
  • North African hedgehog, Atelerix algirus
  • Southern African hedgehog, Atelerix frontalis
  • Somali hedgehog, Atelerix sclateri
  • Amur hedgehog, Erinaceus amurensis
  • Southern white-breasted hedgehog, Erinaceus concolor
  • European hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus
  • Northern white-breasted hedgehog, Erinaceus roumanicus
  • Long-eared hedgehog, Hemiechinus auritus
  • Indian long-eared hedgehog, Hemiechinus collaris
  • Daurian hedgehog, Mesechinus dauuricus
  • Hugh's hedgehog, Mesechinus hughi
  • Desert hedgehog, Paraechinus aethiopicus
  • Brandt's hedgehog, Paraechinus hypomelas
  • Indian hedgehog, Paraechinus micropus
  • Bare-bellied hedgehog, Paraechinus nudiventris

Conservation Status

Hedgehogs are listed as of Least Concern, as there are large populations of hedgehogs around the world. Many species of hedgehogs, however, are on the decline as a result of habitat loss, pesticide use, and poaching for use in traditional medicines. Conservation attempts are underway around the world; as a BBC article says: “A world without hedgehogs would be an uglier place."

Hedgehogs and People

Hedgehogs are well-loved animals and are featured in traditional children's stories and fairy tales. Featured in tales by Beatrix Potter, the hedgehog retains its popularity in the Sonic the Hedgehog video game.


Interesting Hedgehog Facts (2024)


What is a fact sheet about hedgehogs? ›

Daily Life: a hedgehog is normally a solitary, nocturnal animal. During spring and summer days it sleeps in a temporary nest and wakes up at dusk to venture out and hunt for food. It is an insectivore and eats all sorts of invertebrates, is partial to birds' eggs and raids mouse nests for newborn young.

What do hedgehogs eat facts? ›

The most important invertebrates in their diet are worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes. As well as these, they also eat a wide range of other insects. More infrequently, they will take advantage of carrion, frogs, baby rodents, baby birds, birds' eggs and fallen fruit.

How did hedgehogs get their name? ›

The name 'hedgehog' came from a combination of the hedges they love to forage under, and the hog-like snuffling sound they make; Before they were called hedgehogs, these tiny creatures where known as "urchins".

What do hedgehogs do all day? ›

During the day, and during winter hibernation, the hedgehog will sleep in a specially built nest in thick undergrowth, under a shed, in piles of leaves or unlit bonfires. It will never sleep or hibernate outside a nest.

What is a female hedgehog called? ›

Female hedgehogs are known as sows, and they will give birth to a litter of 3-4 or 5-6 newborns, depending on the species of hedgehog. The name for a baby hedgehog is a hoglet.

What is unusual about hedgehogs? ›

Hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, so rely predominantly on their smell and hearing to navigate. This is part of the reason that they are nocturnal creatures. Hedgehog spikes are not barbed or poisonous. The inside of their quills are mostly hollow, each containing air chambers making them light but strong.

What do hedgehogs drink? ›

What do hedgehogs drink? Don't forget to put out a shallow dish of water which can be a lifeline for hedgehogs, especially during a hot, dry summer. Contrary to popular belief, hogs are lactose intolerant and milk can make them ill, so please only offer them water.

What is a hedgehog's favorite thing to do? ›

Like other small animals, hedgehogs love exploring mazes. You can use store-bought ones, or make your own out of PVC pipe or even boxes. Make sure it's big enough, so Hedgie won't get stuck.

What is the lifespan of a hedgehog? ›

On average, when kept as a pet, the hedgehog lifespan is about 4 to 6 years — with some domesticated hedgehogs living about 8 years. “Hedgehogs can be prone to mites and parasites, certain cancers, heart disease, and obesity,” Dr.

What do hedgehogs do for fun? ›

Like many pocket pets, hedgehogs love to explore mazes and tunnels. This will keep Hedgie active, and offer him mental stimulation. You can buy labyrinths, or make your own out of shoeboxes or PVC pipe. To make your pet's explorations even more fun for him, hide a snack at the end of the tunnel.

What are three interesting facts about hedgehogs? ›

15 hedgehog facts for kids
  • Hedgehogs are nocturnal. ...
  • They are called hedgehogs for a reason. ...
  • Hedgehogs can hibernate. ...
  • Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. ...
  • They weren't always called hedgehogs. ...
  • A hedgehog's long snout is useful. ...
  • Hedgehogs don't use their eyes to hunt. ...
  • There isn't just one species of hedgehog.

How fast can a hedgehog run? ›

If you've seen a hedgehog, it might be surprising to learn that they only reach speeds of around 4 miles per hour, which is the equivalent of a very brisk walk for humans and is considerably slower than other animals of the same size. Guinea pigs, for example, can reach speeds of 6 miles per hour.

Are hedgehogs male or female? ›

In male hedgehogs the penile sheath is located about halfway up the tummy and looks like a large belly-button. In females the sex organ is directly adjacent to the anus. Both sexes have a row of nipples along each side within the tummy fur. In babies, it can be difficult to tell sexes apart due to the small size.

How many years do hedgehogs live? ›

On average, when kept as a pet, the hedgehog lifespan is about 4 to 6 years — with some domesticated hedgehogs living about 8 years. “Hedgehogs can be prone to mites and parasites, certain cancers, heart disease, and obesity,” Dr.

What is the biggest problem for hedgehogs? ›

Understanding the issues hedgehogs face:
  • Chemicals. Insecticides and other garden chemicals not only kill the very food that hedgehogs need to survive; they can also be ingested by hedgehogs when they eat contaminated food. ...
  • Drowning. ...
  • Bonfires. ...
  • Netting. ...
  • Strimmers and lawnmowers. ...
  • Badgers.


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