The hedgehog is so named because of its peculiar foraging habits. It roots through hedges and other undergrowth in search of food insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice, frogs, and snakes). As they move through the hedges they emit pig-like grunts (thus the name hedgehog).
Hedgehogs have around 5000 spines. Each one lasts about a year before dropping out. A replacement then grows.
Hedgehogs face many hazards in Britain, and are now priority conservation species due to their declining numbers. Slug pellets, garden ponds and bonfires are all common killers of hedgehogs. And even well-meaning people who leave milk out are putting them in danger, as hedghogs cannot tolerate cows' milk. Visit britishhedghogs.org.ukto find out how you can help protect hedgehogs in your area.
The hedgehog is known as ‘the gardener’s friend’ as it will eat slugs, beetles, caterpillars etc, and does no harm. They should not be kept in close captivity, but regarded as welcome visitors.
The best ways of assisting hedgehogs is to help them avoid man-made hazards and provide them with suitable places to nest, especially in the winter. Slug Pellets are poisonous and should never be used in gardens. If absolutely necessary, pellets should be placed in a pipe or under a slate inaccessible to hedgehogs. Dead slugs must be removed daily.
European hedgehogs in the UK hibernate throughout winter. They feed as much as possible during the autumn and in around October build its nests of leaves and grass in which to hibernate.
The young are born in litters ranging from one to 11. They remain with their mothers for only four to seven weeks before heading out on their own. Among the predators females must guard against during this period are other male hedgehogs, which will sometimes prey upon the young of their species.
Hedgehogs are usually solitary, often pairing up only to mate. When they mate they often make loud snuffling noises. The male circles the female, sometimes for hours, to persuade her to mate. They will separate thereafter and the male takes no part in rearing the family.