1. There are 17 species of hedgehog
It may be surprising for some to find out that there are 17 different species of hedgehogs, especially because many of them look very similar, if not identical. These species are found in Asia, Europe, Africa, and New Zealand but not Australia or the Americas.
The most common hedgehog is the African pygmy hedgehog or also known as the white-bellied hedgehog and despite being advised against by charities and wildlife centers, some people keep them as pets.
2. A group of hedgehogs is called an ‘array’
Hedgehogs are commonly very solitary creatures so there’s not frequently a need to address them when they’re in a group.
Hedgehogs will normally only come together when they’re looking to mate and even after they’ve had babies, they will leave their young after 2 months once they’ve taught them to forage for food and nesting materials.
However, in the past, and still to this date, people refer to a group of hedgehogs as a prickle, which is pretty fitting considering their coats.
Hedgehogs are not territorial and they may have more than one home at a time, they just like their own company which is no wonder considering that they can hibernate for up to six months of the year in their nest.
3. Hedgehogs got their name from their foraging habits
Hedgehogs have some exceptional foraging skills, which is where they found their name. They’ll rummage through hedges or undergrowth in yards or out in fields to try and hunt their prey which is mostly insects, hence the ‘hedge’ part of their name.
If you’ve ever had the joy of coming across a hedgehog or maybe if you’ve seen videos of them online, you would’ve noticed the cute grunting noises they make whilst they’re moving and foraging around for food or nesting materials. This is the basis of the ‘hog’ part of their names because they sound like little piglets.
4. There used to be such a thing called the International Hedgehog Olympic Games (iHog)
We’re not quite sure about how much we agree with this, but we guess the idea could be pretty endearing.
Events included sprints, hurdles, and floor exercises (see-saws) and from our research, we’re happy to say that no hedgehogs obtained any injuries in the process.
An additional fun fact, before the races begin, the male and female hedgehogs need to be separated as male hedgehogs could not control themselves if there was a sassy female hog anywhere near them and wouldn’t be able to focus on the race.
5. Their earliest relatives date back to 125 million years ago
Back in 2015, scientists in Spain discovered some fossil remains from 125 million years ago that were closely related to hedgehogs, making them one of the oldest species of mammal currently on the planet. There have been some changes through their evolution, with the Mediterranean hedgehog that was the actual size of a pig – imagine that?
6. Not all hedgehogs hibernate
Hedgehogs are commonly known for hibernating away in the winter months, especially in colder climates. However, in warmer regions, there may not be a need for hedgehogs to hibernate at all as they’ll be able to forage around for regular food as they wish.
As a result of this, there may be some species of hedgehog that is awake throughout the day instead of being nocturnal.
7. They’re immune to snake venom
They’re tiny but they’re mighty. The protein in their blood neutralizes and provides immunity against snake venom, which means despite their main diet being made up of insects, they could still take on and eat a snake if they had to.
However, whilst they have immunity from partial venom they can still experience health complications and even die from strong venom or just the bite.
8. Hedgehogs can have 5,000-7,000 spines
You probably couldn’t get close enough to count them, but hedgehogs can have 5,000 to 7,000 spines on the muscles on their back. They can be raised and lowered depending on how they’re feeling
A hoglet’s first spines are a lot softer than they are as an adult, each spine will last about a year before it drops off and a replacement spine grows in its place.
9. Hedgehogs are banned in various US states
Not only are hedgehogs not native to the US, but they’re also banned in various US areas such as California, Georgia, Hawaii, NYC, Omaha, Nebraska, and Washington D.C. Other areas of the US may require you to have a permit to own one but keeping one as a pet is generally not recommended by experts.
Many people think hedgehogs would make cute pocket pets, but in reality, keeping them in a cage prevents them from living their best life foraging out in the wild. They’re also solitary animals and don’t like human interaction, so why would you force someone to be your friend if they don’t want to?
10. They’re lactose intolerant
Hedgehogs have severe lactose intolerance and should never be given any if they’re residing in your yard. Cow’s milk or any other kind of milk products can cause them to have a severe stomach ache as they cannot digest it properly and it could end up killing them.
If you feel inclined to give a hog in your yard a helping hand, then why not place a bowl of water down for them to sip if they’re thirsty.