Interesting Facts About Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are cute mammals which hold an incredibly interesting appearance. Part of the subfamily Erinaceinae, they sport an upturned nose and spines, otherwise known as modified hollow hairs which are stiffened. These spines are commonly known as hedgehog spikes. It is important to keep in mind, that hedgehogs are not a domestic animal, like cats and dogs. In fact, if you want to adopt a hedgehog as a pet, it is essential to care for their specific needs and respect their instinctual behavior and nature.
If you are passionate about hedgehogs, take a look at this AnimalWised article on 7 interesting hedgehog facts.
1. How many hedgehog species are there?
While they may look similar to the naked eye, there are currently 17 different hedgehog species that inhabit; Africa, Asia and Europe. The African pygmy hedgehog (domesticated hedgehog) and the long-eared hedgehog are the most common species of hedgehog which are kept as pets. In general, their bodies measure between 10 and 15 centimeters and can weigh up to 400 grams. An interesting feature is that, like us, hedgehogs have 5 fingers on each of their paws, carrying powerful and sharp nails.
Are you thinking of adopting a hedgehog as a pet? If yes, we recommend researching and educating yourself on the specific needs of each hedgehog breed. We also suggest that before adopting a hedgehog, you consult previously with a veterinarian or adoption center for exotic animals.
2. How many spines does a hedgehog have?
One of the main characteristics that identifies a hedgehog are the spines that cover its body. Have you ever wondered how many spines a ground hedgehog has? An adult ground hedgehog usually has more than 5,000 "spines" on its back. These structures are: hollow, filled with keratin, have a flexible base and act as a defense mechanism for a hedgehog under threat. During their youth, hedgehogs can modify their spines to make room for new ones. However, the loss of spines in an adult hedgehog can prove to be a symptom of stress.
Another interesting hedgehog fact is that they have extremely strong muscles on their backs. These muscles allow them to hide and lower their spines when they are calm. In addition, these same muscles allow them to activate these spines when they are: angry, feel threatened or are scared. When they detect a possible threat, they twist and position themselves into what appears to be "ball of spikes". Thus, hiding and protecting the "weakest" part of their body (where their vital organs are stored), scaring off their predators. In addition, when hedgehogs feel threatened, they adopt accelerated breathing, which they decrease once they perceive that there is no longer any present danger.
3. How do hedgehogs communicate?
Hedgehogs have an excellent sense of hearing and smell. However, they have underdeveloped vision. Therefore, they orientate themselves in their habitat and communicate mainly through sounds and smells. Hedgehogs use a wide range of sounds to communicate with each other, emitting sounds ranging from grunts to powerful shrieks.
When adopting a hedgehog as a pet, it is essential to remember that these animals are very sensitive to loud noises and sudden movements. Any sudden, violent or exaggerated stimuli are interpreted as environmental disturbances to hedgehogs and can result in a stressed hedgehog.
4. Hedgehog foaming (self-anointing)
Hedgehogs have a habit of foaming at the mouth and then licking it onto their spines. This habit can easily frighten some hedgehog tutors, however, it is nothing to worry about. This "ritual" is known as anointing. This self-anointing is a mystery to many scientists. We know that hedgehogs do this when they encounter a new smell. Many believe that hedgehogs practice this a a self-defense mechanism, in order to mask themselves with their own scent. This in turn gives them the sense that they are hiding themselves from the new smell which to them, is threatening.
5. Hedgehogs are solitary and crepuscular animals
In their natural habitat, hedgehogs are solitary animals (they usually only come together during the reproductive season). They carry a shy character and crepuscular habits. Many people are surprised to find that hedgehogs sleep throughout the day and are only willing to play during the early hours of the morning or after sunset. These are the times when their metabolism is most active. This habit needs to be respected and for this reason, under no circumstance should a hedgehog be awakened during the day.
If you want to your hedgehog to live with other pets, you need to make sure that they have been socialized from youth. However, for those who decide to adopt a hedgehog, it is important to know that these mammals are not always sociable. In fact, some hedgehogs never lose their fear of living with humans and additionally, can never accustom themselves to loud human noises. As we have already mentioned, these are wild and not domesticated animals.
In addition, hedgehogs are not affection like cats or dogs. Therefore, do not expect your hedgehog to meet you at the door when you return home or chase you to play ball.
6. Hedgehog diseases
Hedgehogs are sensitive animals that can also get sick when they do not receive proper care. Among the most common diseases of hedgehogs are:
- Cracked ears
- Skin Problems
To prevent such pathologies from occurring remember to make periodic visits to your specialized veterinarian. With the guidance of a specialized professional, you can provide your hedgehog with a complete and balanced diet, as well as adequate preventive medicine.
7. Is it illegal to own a hedgehog?
In some countries or jurisdictions, it is not illegal to raise a hedgehogs as a companion animal. In Arizona and California and Hawaai, for example, hedgehogs are considered "wild animals" and their possession is illegal.
Therefore, remember to make sure you have done adequate research before: adopting, traveling or moving with a hedgehog.
If you want to read similar articles to Interesting Facts About Hedgehogs, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.