Hedgehogs are really interesting creatures. I’m sure you can easily recognise one, and you’d never mistake a hedgehog for anything else – like a fox, or a cat? But what do you know about hedgehogs? Take a look at our hedgehog questions here and see how many new things you can learn.
Fun Hedgehog Facts
How Old Are Hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are over 15 MILLION years old.
They are one of the oldest mammals on earth. They were around when sabre toothed tigers and Woolley mammoths were. Long before humans first evolved.
Why are They Called Hedgehogs?
Well, if you ever meet one you’ll know!
When they are looking for food they make little grunting noises, like a pig. And they like to live in – yes you guessed it – hedges!
Although they are called hedgehogs in English they have other names in other languages. In lots of languages they are called “urchins” because of their prickles, which remind people of the spines on sea urchins.
How Many Hedgehogs Are There?
Experts think there are one million hedgehogs in the UK now.
That sounds like a lot doesn’t it? But 70 years ago we think there were 36 million hedgehogs here.
Their numbers have gone down a lot. This is because humans have built so many new houses and roads. And because our farms are different now.
But lots of people are working to help hedgehogs now. We hope there will be more of them around in the future.
Why are Hedgehogs Prickly?
Hedgehogs are prickly to protect themselves from other animals, Like foxes and badgers who might want to eat them for dinner.
When a hedgehog is in danger it curls up into a tight ball, so all you can see are the prickles or spines. That makes them pretty safe.
How Many Spines Does a Hedgehog Have?
An adult hedgehog has 5,000 to 6,000 spines. Just like our hair, old ones fall out all the time and new ones grow.
The spines are on the hedgehog’s head, back and sides. It’s face and tummy are covered in soft fur.
Baby hedgehogs are born with no spines at all.
They get their first spines after a few days. Just like humans get baby teeth, but a bit faster!
Their first “baby” spines are all white and there are only 150 of them.
The white spines don’t fall out. But gradually brown spines grow in between them.
When are Baby Hedgehogs Born?
Most baby hedgehogs are born in May or June. When the weather is nice and warm and there is plenty of food around to help them get big and strong.
But some hedgehogs are born in September. Life is much more difficult for these hedgehogs. They will still be young when the weather gets cold. These hedgehogs born in the Autumn often need help from our hedgehog rescuers.
A baby hedgehog will have 4 or 5 brothers and sisters. They stay with their Mum for just a few weeks before they are grown up enough to go off on their own.
And What Are Baby Hedgehogs Called?
Baby hedgehogs are called “hoglets”! Isn’t that a cute name!
Male hedgehogs are called “boars” and females are called “sows”. They are all exactly the same names as we give to pigs.
How Fast Can a Hedgehog Go?
Hedgehogs can walk at six miles an hour. Humans walk at 3 miles an hour. So you can see, hedgehogs go pretty fast on those little legs.
And they go a long way as well. Each night a hedgehog will walk more than a mile to find his food.
How Else Can Hedgehogs Get Around?
Well, hedgehogs are quite good swimmers. And, if they have to, they can climb trees, walls and fences.
But hedgehogs have a habit of getting into trouble and getting stuck in places they can’t get out of. So we all have to watch out for hedgehogs stuck in strange places in our gardens.
What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
Hedgehogs are part of a family of animals called “insectivores”. So maybe you can guess from the name that they eat a lot of insects.
They love all sorts of bugs and insects. Beetles are a favourite. They eat lots of slugs and snails too. So gardeners love them.
If you want to help hedgehogs you can offer them some food. Leave a saucer of hedgehog food and a dish of water out in your garden at night.
What’s Hedgehog Poo Like?
Hedgehogs do a lot of poo. So if you know what to look for you might find one in your garden.
Each poo is about an inch long. About as long as your thumb. They are sausage shaped. With pointed ends. And they are black and have shiny bits in them.
The shiny bits come from the beetles they eat. If you look closely at a hedgehog poo you may see a beetles wing!
When Can I See a Hedgehog?
At night. Hedgehogs sleep in the day and come out after your bedtime.
This is called being “nocturnal”.
Lots of creatures in Britain only come out at night. Like bats, owls, foxes and badgers.
We think they do this because it’s safer for them. And because there are fewer other animals out at night competing for the food they eat.
So lots of birds eat the insects that hedgehogs enjoy. But at night most of the birds are asleep. So the hedgehog has all the bugs to himself.
What Happens to Hedgehogs in the Winter?
In the winter hedgehogs hibernate. This is a bit like being in a very deep sleep. For a long time. Like Sleeping Beauty.
In the Autumn they build a special, strong warm nest called a “hibernaculum”. They curl up tight in there and stay there until spring. Only coming out once or twice maybe for a drink.
Scientists think they do this because there isn’t much around for them to eat in winter. And it would be difficult for them to keep warm.
So it’s better to cuddle up and rest until the spring.
I wonder why more animals don’t do that?
Have You Learned Something New About Hedgehogs?
Have you learned something new about hedgehogs? We hope so.
They are very special animals and the more we all know about them the more we can help them.
What was the most interesting fact?
We would love to hear your hedgehog questions and stories.
Or maybe you have a hedgehog fact we didn’t mention?