European Hedgehog Facts!

European Hedgehog Facts!

Young European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), or common hedgehog, is a hedgehog species found in northern and western Europe. Image credit: Michael Gäbler, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The European hedgehog is the only spiky mammal that can be found in Britain. It is only about 8.7 to 10.6 inches (22 to 27 centimeters) in length, with a very short tail and an armor of prickly spikes on its back. An adult hedgehog may have as many as 5000 spines or more. Hedgehogs have excellent senses of hearing and smell, though their eyesight is rather poor. They are also good at climbing and swimming. When feeling threatened, they will roll themselves into a ball, showing their spikes to protect themselves.


An adult European Hedgehog with her newborn child. Image credit: Filip B, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The typical litter size of a hedgehog is four to six young. The mother bears the sole responsibility of raising them. An observation of a hedgehog birthing is a very rare sight, even if they are in captivity. However, it has been found that the female (called a sow) is very, very sensitive to any disturbance while she is giving birth, and any interruption might even result in her eating her own young. Within a few hours of their birth, the babies’ spikes will appear, and within 11 days they will be able to roll into a ball. Until the young are about 3 to 4 weeks old, they cannot urinate or defecate on their own. So the mother has to simulate this by licking around their genitals.


A foraging European hedgehog. Image credit: Gaudete, (CC BY-SA 2.5)

It has been estimated that 70% of hedgehogs die within the first year after birth. The most frequent cause of this is starvation, which usually happens during hibernation. The hedgehog’s spines repel many possible predators, but some animals (like owls) do hunt them. An owl will grab the hedgehog by its face and peel its prickly back with its talons first, making it safe to eat. The hedgehogs themselves are omnivores — they feed on worms, slugs, insects, eggs, carrion, fruit and mushrooms.

European Hedgehogs are featured in the following book:
25 Nocturnal Animals
25 Cutest Animals in the World!

The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about European Hedgehogs. Details of the videos featured are underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. Hedgehog Mating Rituals – Attenborough – The Life of Mammals – BBC
  2. Egel – European hedgehog – Erinaceus europaeus by screenshot
  3. Two European Hedgehogs by constantpixels
  4. Mammals of the World: Western European Hedgehog by AnswersInNature
  5. Facts About European Hedgehogs by AnnamalChannel
  6. Erinaceus europaeus / European Hedgehog / Egel / Hérisson commun / Braunbrustigel /4 by Varola7845


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