Last Reviewed and Updated on June 26, 2022
One of the cutest animals out there, hedgehogs are popular all over the world, although they can only be found in some areas natively. Their unique look made them part of many folklore and their friendly nature made them popular pets in some areas of the world.
It’s not only their spikes that make them unique, there are many other facts about hedgehogs that will fascinate you. Read on to learn more about them.
1. Hedgehog’s spines are hollow hairs made stiff with keratin
Keratin is what our hair and nails are made from and it’s the same substance that makes the spines of a hedgehog. They shed them over time, just like we do with our hair, and new spines grow to replace the old ones. An adult hedgehog has over 5000 spines on its body.
2. They can roll into a tight ball when threatened
Hedgehog’s spines serve a defensive purpose. They cover the whole back, but the belly and head are left vulnerable. To protect itself when threatened, a hedgehog will roll into a spiky ball, protecting its head and belly.
3. Wild hedgehogs can hibernate, but not all do
Hedgehogs are one of the many animals that are able to hibernate, but not all hedgehogs hibernate. They will hibernate if the temperatures drop and the food is scarce as they need to conserve their energy. If there is enough food and the temperatures are favorable they won’t hibernate at all, and will only hibernate for a short time – this short-term hibernation is actually called a torpor.
4. They sometimes perform an interesting ritual called anointing
When they come across something that is new to them, is toxic, or has a strong scent, they may start self-anointing. They will smear the newly found substance over their spikes. They will lick and chew these substances and then smear them on their spikes.
Scientists aren’t sure what the purpose of this act is, there is a couple of hypothesis about it, including camouflage and protection. One of the most mysterious and fascinating facts about hedgehogs for sure.
5. Hedgehogs are omnivores
Their diet primarily consists of worms, beetles, and other insects. They don’t mind taking on frogs, baby rodents and birds, snakes and eggs. Fruit is on their menu as well.
6. They don’t carry fruit on their spines
They were and still sometimes are, pictured as carrying fruit on their spikes, especially in children’s literature which helps keep this myth alive. This is however not the case. They do not carry fruit on their spines.
7. Hedgehogs are great swimmers
And what’s more, they like swimming. Hedgehog drownings are sadly common though, but that doesn’t come from their swimming ability but exhaustion, when they can’t get out of a swimming area (pools). If you have a pool or a pond and live in an area where hedgehogs also live, do keep this hedgehog fact in mind and if possible install a small ramp these animals can use to exit your pool.
8. They have a good sense of smell and good hearing
When hedgehogs go out on a hunt they rely on their sense of smell and hearing.
9. Hedgehogs are born blind and adults have poor sight
Their eyesight is very poor. They are able to see outlines of objects, but not much more. They compensate for their poor eyesight with a great sense of smell and good hearing.
10. They are solitary animals
They are solitary animals and will only come together when it is time to mate.
11. Hedgehogs can neutralize snake venoms
These animals have some immunity to snake venom, allowing them to hunt for snakes and survive snake bites. This doesn’t make them completely safe from snakes though, snake bites can still kill them and snakes can suffocate them.
12. There are no living hedgehog species native to America
This may come as the most shocking out of all facts about hedgehogs, given that they are popular around the globe. In the wild, they are found in many places in East, West, and Central Africa, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand. They aren’t native to America.
13. A group of hedgehogs is called an array
An array of hedgehogs. Pretty sweet.
14. Female hedgehogs are called sows and male hedgehogs are called boars
Baby hedgehogs are called hoglets.