Why are hedgehogs prickly?


Hedgehogs are small mammals that live in hedgerows, grasslands, woodlands and meadows. They are found in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa and can live for about 7 years.

Hedgehogs can be easily recognised because of the spiky prickles (called ‘spines’) they have all over their backs and the grunting, snuffling noises they make. They look cute but you shouldn’t try to pick one up because it might feel frightened and try to prickle you with its spines.

But my daughters want to know why hedgehogs are prickly and whether they are prickly when they are born?

When baby hedgehogs (or ‘hoglets’) are born, they have soft prickles that are very short. As they grow up, their spines get longer, harder and sharper. Hedgehogs use their spines to keep themselves safe from danger and when they go to sleep. When a hedgehog curls up into a ball, it tucks its head, tummy and tail inside and pokes its prickles out. So, if a bigger animal (like a fox or a badger) comes along that would like to eat the hedgehog, it will get a prickly surprise!

Hedgehogs usually come out at night-time. They like to eat insects, snails and other small creatures, which they hunt in the dark. But hedgehogs can’t see very well, so they rely on their senses of hearing and smell. And you might be surprised to know that hedgehogs can climb and swim!

If you want to know more about these interesting creatures, here are 20 fun facts about hedgehogs. And if you find a hedgehog that you think is injured or unwell, you can contact your local hedgehog rescue centre for help. Here is some advice from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on what to do.


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