10 Incredible Hedgehog Facts

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: July 4, 2022
© Miroslav Hlavko/Shutterstock.com
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What do you think you know about hedgehogs? One of the most well-known beloved characters is Sonic from the popular Sega video game. The famous hedgehog has become so loved that he’s even had a few cartoons and, as of late, two big-screen blockbusters! But what about real hedgehogs?

Real hedgehogs frequently congregate close to hedgerows in the wild, hence their name. They can find the perfect nesting places in the complex shrubbery, which also offers protection from predators and a reliable food source. Hedgehogs frequent gardens since they mostly eat insects and other pests.

Interested in learning more? Let’s explore 10 incredible hedgehog facts right now!

1. Hedgehogs Are Not Rodents

What Eats Snakes
Hedgehogs belong to the mammal group Eulipotyphla.

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Hedgehogs are frequently mistaken for porcupines, which are rodents, which is probably how this story got started. However, because they belong to the mammal group Eulipotyphla, they aren’t even remotely related to porcupines. They resemble moles and shrews more closely as a result, which also resemble rodents. The two incisor teeth on rodents grow even when they are not nibbling on objects to wear them down. Hedgehogs can have up to 44 teeth, which are not at all like those of a rodent.

2. Hedgehogs Were Once Used As Food, And In Some Cultures Still Are

Hedgehogs were once consumed by some wandering people for food, which may sound like one of the more implausible hedgehog facts. They would roll the hogs in clay and bake them over a fire to cook them. The hair and spines would fall out once the clay had been removed after cooking.

Hedgehogs are still used as food in many cultures today. Ancient Egypt consumed hedgehog meat, and late medieval recipes also called for it. Hedgehogs are exchanged for traditional medicines and witchcraft in Eurasia and Africa.

3. Hedgehog Quills Are Their Primary Defense Against Predators

Hedgehog, native, wild European hedgehog on green moss covered log
Hedgehog quills are not like those of porcupines.

©Coatesy/Shutterstock.com

When agitated, hedgehogs will curl up into a ball and extend the quills lining their skin with the help of two muscles in their rear. Their spines also make them quite different in the hedgehog vs porcupine argument. The sharp, removable quills on porcupines are much more painful than those on hedgehogs. Instead of biting, hedgehogs are significantly more likely to engage in this defensive activity.

4. Hedgehogs Use Different Noises To Communicate

Four-toed Hedgehog on a funny autumnal picture
Hedgehogs are communicative and vocal.

©Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock.com

Hedgehogs are talkative animals that produce a wide variety of noises with various connotations. They typically sound like pigs when searching for food, grunting, and snuffling. They chuff like a train to entice partners during mating season. Adult hedgehogs yell, hiss, or click when they are angry, and baby hedgehogs chirp when they are hungry.

5. Hedgehogs Have Some Immunity To Snake Venom

Hedgehogs have developed to have greater resistance to snake venom, just like other species. The protein erinacin found in their muscular system allows them to tolerate more venom in addition to the protection provided by their quills. This gives them the opportunity to hunt the snake instead of the other way around. They are not fully immune to it, though, and can still be hurt or killed if the venom is strong enough or targeted at the right area of their body, like the face.

6. Hedgehogs Perform A Behavior Called Anointing

Hedgehogs do not have followers nor a religious following. In their case, “anointing,” which they perform instead, refers to the distinctive ritual of hedgehogs hiding in unfamiliar situations. A hedgehog will lick and bite at an object until it starts to foam at the mouth when it smells something new. The hedgehog will spread the foam it produces at its mouth onto its quills, perhaps to cover up the previous fragrance and introduce a fresh one. Scientists haven’t yet determined the precise cause of this behavior, though.

7. Wild Hedgehogs Make Nests

Hedgehogs typically construct their nests among dense bushes or at the base of hedges in the wild. Their nests, which are typically built of moss, grass, leaves, and other garden waste, can be big. They can be discovered at the base of substantial hedges, hidden beneath substantial bramble bushes, garden structures, or heaps of trash.

8. Hedgehogs Can Inflate Their Bodies

Balloon syndrome is a rare ailment that only affects hedgehogs.

©Jorg Hempel / Creative Commons

Balloon syndrome, as its name suggests, is another mysterious ailment that affects hedgehogs. Balloon syndrome is a rare ailment that only affects hedgehogs and causes them to swell up to twice their normal size because of trapped gas under their skin.

Despite seeming weird, scientists think that this phenomenon is frequently brought on by an injury or an infection. The elastic skin of hedgehogs, which aids in their curling, is thought to have a role in the emergence of this condition. Veterinarians would aspirate or incise the hedgehog’s back to release the gas buildup as a treatment.

9. Some Cultures Believe Hedgehogs Have Medicinal Properties

animals that estivate: four-toed hedgehog
In Morocco, hedgehog blood is also offered as a treatment for skin conditions like ringworm.

©HildaWeges/Shutterstock.com

Hedgehog meat is regarded as a cure-all for impotence, rheumatoid arthritis, and tuberculosis in the Middle East. Inhaling the smoke from burned hedgehog skin is said to treat fever, erectile dysfunction, and urinary infections in Morocco. Here, hedgehog blood is also offered as a treatment for skin conditions like ringworm.

10. Hedgehogs Have Quills, Also Known As Spines

Most mammals have soft, flexible fur or hair. But a hedgehog’s back hair is made up of a thick coating of quills, which are modified hairs. The same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails, keratin, is used to make these quills. The spines on a hedgehog’s body won’t easily separate from its body, unlike the quills of a porcupine. Instead, hedgehogs employ those spines to discourage predator assaults by convincing them that it wouldn’t be worth the work to eat them.

To protect their face and hands while putting their spines front and center, hedgehogs accomplish this by rolling into a ball. The quantity of spines in each species varies, though. Desert species often have fewer spines, so when attacked, they are more inclined to flee or even attack, than curl up into a ball.


The Featured Image

Cutest Animals: Hedgehog
The cute Hedgehog is very intelligent and loves to play in mazes!
© Miroslav Hlavko/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

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