There are so many animals that exist with natural defenses against predators, and hedgehogs are some of the most unique. Hedgehogs are best known for their coat, which is made up of prickly but piercing spines. They defend themselves by curling up into a ball, which causes their spines to protrude and serves as a deterrent against any danger. In the entire world, there are currently 17 known species of hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs have cone-shaped faces and classify as mammals. Aside from their face, they have short legs and a body covered with sharp spines that may inflict harm to anyone. Contrary to popular belief, although they share similar features with porcupines, hedgehogs are in no way related to porcupines.
Hedgehogs spend most of their time sleeping and prefer to hunt at night. As omnivores, it would be interesting to know what they like to eat, what their poop looks like, and whether or not their poop carries any diseases. Let’s go!
What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
Before now, hedgehogs used to be full-on insectivores, but present-day hedgehogs are now omnivores, consuming both plants and smaller animals. The types of foods these animals eat depend on their location and preferred habitat. These animals can be found in a variety of locations around the globe and will construct a nest when they choose a location that they find comfortable.
Most often, hedgehogs enjoy living in moist and deep pine forests. For instance, a hedgehog residing in Asia will not consume the same foods as a hedgehog living in northern Africa. However, the diets of various populations of hedgehogs do share some similarities.
What Does Hedgehog Poop Look Like?
How hedgehog poop looks depends on what the animal has been eating. However, their poop is usually very dark brown or black. Hedgehog poop is not usually very big and barely averages two inches, shaped like a small sausage with pointed ends. In other words, a hedgehog’s excrement is cylindrical in shape and gets thinner as it gets closer to the end.
It’s crucial to remember that a hedgehog’s recent meal affects the color of its poop. For instance, the majority of hedgehogs that eat beetles typically have wings from the insect in their poop. Generally, upon closer examination, it is not uncommon to find fragments of undigested bones and sometimes fur in hedgehog poop.
The color and consistency of a hedgehog’s poop is an indicator of its health. Usually, a hedgehog’s poop is firm but moist. If it looks mushy and loose, the hedgehog might be suffering from diarrhea. If the poop looks greenish and sticky, the hedgehog might suffer from Clostridium. If the poop is more smelly than usual, it is an indicator that the animal has a digestive disorder.
How Often Do Hedgehogs Poop?
Hedgehogs poop a lot. According to experts, these animals poop all the time because they have a fast metabolism. Young hedgehogs seem to have no control over their bowels, and as such, they seemingly enjoy pooping wherever and whenever they find the opportunity. However, as these young ones become older, they learn to hold their poop in better and only leave poop in the appropriate places.
Hedgehogs have an odd habit of kicking off their metabolism when they run, which makes them feel the need to poop. Because of this, it is not uncommon to find a hedgehog pooping while on the run. Also, these animals cannot properly process cellulose because they do not have a cecum, and as such, whatever they eat comes out as poop sooner. Another reason hedgehogs poop a lot is that when they are frightened by loud sounds, they tend to poop as a reflex response.
Keep in mind that it is impossible to find hedgehog poop during the winter. The reason for this is that from November to March, hedgehogs hibernate. They stop eating during this time of year, are completely asleep, and do not wake up until the end of the season. These animals survive during this season on the fat saved during the summer.
Is Hedgehog Poop Harmful To Humans?
Like all animal poop, hedgehog poop is harmful to humans. Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean. These Salmonella bacteria are shed in their droppings and can easily contaminate their bodies and anything in the area where hedgehogs live and roam. This bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps if it contaminates human water sources or food. Some people infected with Salmonella do not necessarily show symptoms, but most develop the symptoms mentioned within eight to 72 hours.
One of the main dangers of hedgehog poop is a bacterial infection known as Clostridium. When a hedgehog is infected with Clostridium bacteria, its excrement appears sticky and greenish in appearance. It is significant to remember that this infection, which has five distinct strands, is a zoonotic illness, meaning it can spread and affect humans. This bacterium can infect humans either directly or indirectly.
In humans, the Clostridium infection is known as Clostridium difficile, referred to as the “C difficile.” It affects the human colon and may cause diarrhea or severe inflammation of the colon. In the worst case, it can even cause kidney failure or increased white blood cell count. Asides from diarrhea, humans infected with this bacteria can also suffer dehydration, fever, nausea, blood in stool, etc. It is estimated that half a million people are infected in the United States each year. Though hedgehogs cannot solely be blamed for this infection, it is still advised to handle their poop carefully.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © DenisNata/Shutterstock.com
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