Hedgehogs are truly curious creatures! A very British critter, you’re likely to see these garden snufflers pop out during dark and damp weather. A common sight across the UK, they are also one of the most protected species you’ll find across the country.
How much do you actually know about hedgehogs in general? Here are a few interesting facts on hedgehogs that might just surprise you.
Hedgehogs aren’t the best at spotting things with their eyes. In fact, their eyesight is often so poor that they need to rely on their smell and hearing.
Their poor sight is likely as a result of their night-time adaptation. This means you will rarely, if ever, see a hedgehog out in the daytime.
They are called hedgehogs because of where they make their nests and homes. You will often find them deep in shrubbery and hedges, whether on your own property or out in public.
There are actually 15 different species of hedgehogs, though the animals native to the UK are of the European variety.
As you can imagine, they are also loosely related to the porcupine. However, hedgehog barbs are not poisonous. With up to 7,000 of them, you had better hope they aren’t! It’s still not wise to stroke a wild hedgehog, though they are not deadly, unlike porcupines.
Hedgehogs are likely to shed and regrow spines once a year, meaning that they completely replace their skin defence annually.
Hedgehogs are fantastic help to gardeners. This is because they often eat and therefore remove slugs and caterpillars without trace. This bugs and beasties can do serious damage to your greenery!
It’s not always wise to keep a hedgehog as a pet. As they are an endangered species in the UK, it is advised to leave well alone. It’s also illegal for you to own a hedgehog in some US states, such as in Hawaii and California.
British homeowners can help their local hedgehogs by staying away from the use of slug pellets, and by protecting their garden ponds. As hedgehogs cannot see well, any risk of them falling into water needs to be well-protected.
Hedgehogs will rub saliva all over themselves if they smell strong scents. Why do they do this? No one is quite sure. This process is often called ‘self-anointing’.
Hedgehogs are generally solitary creatures, though they will mate and sometimes be found in groups called arrays.
It’s thought the Roman Empire used to raise hedgehogs not only for food, but for their quills. Thankfully, we live in enlightened times.
A hedgehog is likely to scurry over a distance of two miles in any one evening for food. That’s a lot of ground for such a small beastie to cover!
Hedgehogs used to be called ‘urchins’, though this name still applies to young hedgehogs or hoglets. In fact, the sea urchin, discovered after the hedgehog, was named after the land critter.
Do you know any interesting or fun facts about hedgehogs that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!