Erinaceinae (Hedgehogs)

I chose to write my topic on hedgehogs because my family owns one as a pet. Her name is Butters and is a really good pet and very unique in the way that they are constantly in protective mode but little by little gets used to your scent since they are born blind.

Butters

Butters

There are seventeen species of hedgehogs. This species is typically found in parts of Asia, Europe, New Zealand and Africa. Many Americans and other countries acquire these as pets. Hedgehogs are related to moles and shrews. This species has not changed much over that past fifteen million years. They have become nocturnal over the years to adapt. Although they are often compared to porcupines, hedgehogs are not related to rodent porcupines. Hedgehogs are easily identified by their pokey hair that is porcupine-like. Hedgehogs shed these spikes over time; this act is known as quilling. This also happens if a hedgehog is going through a sickness or extreme stress. As defense, they roll into a tight ball to poke their spikes outward to an enemy. The will often times run to attack its predator or even roll at it, as the animated ‘sonic the hedgehog’ does. All wild hedgehogs are able to hibernate but it depends on the temperature and availability of food. Hedgehogs can only survive in a certain temperature and if the temperature drops, they will die. Their back is made of two muscles that control the quill positioning. They have on average about 5,000 to 6,500 quills. The hedgehog has a natural immunity to certain snake venoms.

A hedgehog pregnancy lasts between 35 to 38 days and produces between three and four newborns per litter in a larger species or five to six in a smaller species. The adult male will often times kill the newborn males. The lifespan for a hedgehog is four to seven years in the wild or eight to ten years in captivity. They are born blind and with quills beneath their skin that pass the skin. Their main predator is the European Eagle Owl but in Britain their only predator is the badger. It is illegal to own a pet hedgehog in specific states and Canadian municipalities. But, in the UK the hedgehogs are considered endangered and therefore illegal to keep as a pet.

Hedgehogs sometimes acquire diseases that are well known to the human population as well, including: cancer, fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease. The most common among this species is cancer, specifically squamous cell carcinoma.

One of the most challenging parts that the hedgehogs have to deal with pertaining to humans is the roads, many of them are run over while they are trying to cross the street. Hedgehogs also tend to get their heads stuck in littered containers as they tried to lick the remains out of them. In many cultures hedgehogs are a source of food to people. These cultures consider hedgehog meat to be medicinal. The main cure being arthritis and rheumatism. This was believed in Ancient Egypt, Late Middle Ages, and current day Romani.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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