The genus Erinaceaus covers the hedgehog family. The European Hedgehog is a rodent-like mammal. It has an egg-shaped body that measures 17.5 to 20 cm long. It has bristling spines which are a pale yellowish colour around its face and under side. The rest of the body is a brownish colour which blends well with its surroundings. It also has a small tail that measures less than two and a half centimetres. Its head is sharp and wedge shaped. Hedgehogs have coarse hairs on their face, legs, and under parts. They are warm blooded and maintain a constant body temperature. Males and females look very similar (1).
The European Hedgehogs are a popular sight in gardens and they are solitary, non-territorial animals that are mainly active at night (2). The European Hedgehog breeds twice a year between May and June and then between August and September. After a gestation time of 34 to 39 days they give birth to four to five young. The baby hedgehogs are born in a nest of leaves and grass built by their mother. They are blind at birth and it takes about a week for their eyes to function. It takes about a month before the babies are old enough to leave the nest without their mother (1).
The European Hedgehog has poor eyesight but has a very good sense of smell and hearing. They can swim and climb well, and when they fear harm, they roll into a tight, spiny ball for protection.
The species lives in deciduous forests, sand dunes, open woodlands, hollow stumps, and cavities in rocks. It hibernates in cold climates (1).
The European Hedgehog is usually found in the British Isles, Western Europe, the Mediterranean Islands, and recently it has been introduced to New Zealand (1).
The European Hedgehog looks for food morning to night. It sniffs out worms, snails, insects, snakes, and small rodents (2).
The only real predator the European Hedgehog has is the fox. The fox will roll the hedgehog into a pond of water where the animal has to uncurl itself or else it will drown. That is when the fox will attack it (1).
IUCN Red List = Least Concern (3)
Description written by Lilli Lehtinen (2009)
(1) Cyber Zoo (2009) Erinaceus concolor [online] Available:
http://lsb.syr.edu/projects/cyberzoo/europeanhedgehog.html [date accessed: 14/05/2009]
(2) The Animal Files (2009) European Hedgehog [online] Available:
http://www.theanimalfiles.com/mammals/insectivores/hedgehog_european.html [date accessed: 14/05/2009]
(3) IUCN (2008) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [online] Available:
http://www.iucnredlist.org [date accessed: 14/05/2009]