Almost every animal in the world has a predator, there are only a few who do not. If you love hedgehogs, you are probably wondering what the biggest threat to them is.
Hedgehogs actually have a lot of potential predators, despite how you would think, they make for quite difficult prey with all their spiny quills. Today we want to look at what animals hunt and eat hedgehogs the most.
What are hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are small insect-eating omnivorous mammals, commonly found in Africa, Europe, Southeastern Asia, and Borneo, as well as New Zealand where they were introduced during the 19th Century. In parts of Europe, you will often see hedgehogs everywhere, even in residential areas.
Hedgehogs are covered in spines, which they will use to defend themselves against potential predators.
They curl themselves up into a tight ball when they are threatened, protecting their soft underbelly, and looking like a snack that will be too painful to be worth the hassle.
While many predators will be turned-off by these spines, some predators are too determined, and will make a tasty snack of these prickly mammals. The most successful predators of hedgehogs are carnivorous mammals, birds of prey, and even snakes.
The top predators
There are several top predators of hedgehogs, different predators will be more successful in different corners of the world.
For example, in India mongoose are very successful at attacking hedgehogs, whereas in the United Kingdom, foxes and badgers do well. In New Zealand, weasels are doing very well, but in general birds of prey are doing the best worldwide.
Coming out at the top are birds of prey. This is because one of the most common predators for hedgehogs is owls. These are nocturnal, just like hedgehogs, so their hours of activity match up perfectly, meaning that their paths cross plenty often enough.
Some birds such as Eurasian eagles have incredibly strong calls, and even more importantly when it comes to their predatory skill sets, they do not produce any sounds when they fly.
This makes them an ideal predator for hedgehogs. They can catch a hedgehog without giving it any warning so that it can curl up into a tight ball. The hedgehog won’t be able to hear the approaching predator, and so the hedgehog has no time to get into its defensive pose.
Owls also have very strong and long talons. The longer the talons, the more likely they will be able to attack through the protective spiked quills of the hedgehog.
Next up, Foxes. Foxes are often considered to be lazy, however they are excellent at hunting hedgehogs, although they are more opportunistic, as they will usually eat dying animals, or human trash.
For many foxes, this does mean that they do not actually have to go hunting to get their fill.
This is why, even though foxes have plenty of skill to do so, they won’t always attack hedgehogs because they do not really need to, it takes a lot more effort to go hunting for a hedgehog than it does to go searching through a trash can.
When it comes to snakes, it is a two-way street, some species of snake will hunt hedgehogs, whereas some hedgehogs will hunt some species of snakes.
For the most part, adult hedgehogs are safe, but if a young hedgehog encounters a certain species of snake, they will have little chance of survival.
Poison from venomous snakes does not affect hedgehogs, however, snakes that use suffocation and swallowing to kill their prey will easily eat a hedgehog.
Weasels are very good at hunting hedgehogs, especially in New Zealand, where they have acquired a taste for them. In New Zealand, hedgehogs make up a large part of weasel diets.
These curious creatures have adapted their techniques that allow them to artfully catch a hedgehog and feed on their soft spot, avoiding the prickly parts. Even though they are close to the same size, weasels saw this challenge and accepted it. And won.
Badgers are known for being quite crafty, and they are. They are one of the few animals that can actually unroll a rolled up hedgehog. Weirdly, badgers and hedgehogs typically eat the same things, such as beetles, so if a badger and hedgehog are in the same space for food, there will be competition.
The main reason that a badger will prey on a hedgehog is that there is competition for food. Badgers can be seen as an issue when it comes to hedgehog populations, although there is not enough evidence to say that they pose a significant enough threat.
If there is enough food and habitat for both species, they may even be able to coexist peacefully.
There are several types of canine that attack and eat hedgehogs, including wolves, and even domestic dogs if given the chance. They will usually use their nose as a wedge to where the hedgehog is curled to force the animal back open, and they can then eat the hedgehog.
This is another predator type that is not specific to any country, but simply happens where opportunity is rife. In countries where you may find wolves and hedgehogs, these may make for a decent last-resort prey.
In the hedgehog habitats of India, there is an animal known as a mongoose. These are a unique kind of animal that is known for attacking all types of super uncommon prey. It is not usual for this mammal to attack poisonous snakes such as cobras and so on.
They have many creative ways to attack different unique prey types. When they catch a hedgehog, then act like a person trying to crack open an egg.
They use their forearms to throw the rolled-up hedgehog into something hard, trying to break them open’ this will usually shock or hurt them enough for them to uncurl and then the mongoose attacks the weak soft and starts feeding. Savage, but productive.