A hedgehog is any member of the spiny rodent family of the same subfamily, Erinaceinae, within the subfamily Eurycoma, in the cicada order Chiroptera. There are currently seventeen recognized species of hedgehog in three genera with fifteen species occurring in five species in the Asian and New Zealand regions, with two remaining species native to southernmost South America.
Hedgehogs are large to small, with the average hedgehog being about one inch in length. Their names are derived from Greek words meaning hedge or hedgehog, such as argus (angel), cheap (cheval horse), and halos (wild-herd dog). In common usage, however, the name hedgehog is applied to any spiny creature that has a hairy covering and is usually a nocturnal mammal.
Most hedgehogs live in natural habitats with few predators; however, a few species have experienced a rapid increase in population growth resulting in an increase in natural prey base and risk to humans and other animals.
Common predators of hedgehogs are dogs and cats, but hedgehogs also tend to be prey to many birds and insects. Deer, fishers, foxes, hyenas, raccoons, skunks, spiders, hawks, bats, mice, rats, snakes, and birds of prey all prey on hedgehogs. In captivity, hedgehogs are often attacked by cats and dogs, but most attacks occur by other pets or larger predators outside of the hedgehog’s enclosure.
Hedgehogs can also be eaten by larger predators, including lions, hyenas, raccoons, fishers, and large birds of prey. Quill, or feather quill, is a small member of a hedgehog’s anatomy, and these quills are often injured during fights or accidentally trapped or injured by predators.
A dead hedgehog may make a soft, moist mess, which can breed germs and attract other unwanted guests to the hedgehog’s enclosure. Quill injuries should be healed promptly to avoid further stress for the injured hedgehog.
Despite their solitary nature, hedgehogs do enjoy the company of others, especially during their critical periods such as pregnancy or after they give birth. The majority of animals born in captivity live for only a few months or a year, so it is important to provide a new home for your hedgehog when you return from travel.
When you do bring your hedgehog home, set him up in a large cage with enough room for him to turn around and view everything that is going on around him. Make sure there are multiple hiding areas for him to run and hide. Provide soft bedding and do not use tick collars on hedgehogs. Be prepared for your new hedgehog to immediately begin eating, burrowing, stretching, and exploring.
Hedgehogs are susceptible to a variety of insect and predator invasions, including but not limited to hedgehog mites, white-flies, mosquitoes, varroa mites, groundhogs, snails, slugs, and sometimes even rats or cats! Some of these creatures can be very dangerous to your hedgehog. Always keep a hand or armful of sprays, insecticides, and anti-vibration powder available when you are caring for your hedgehog. The more senses that a hedgehog has, the more likely he or she is to be injured or even die if subjected to an intruder.
Some of the most popular pets in the United States are hedgehogs. You can find them at zoos, pet stores, and even on TV and in magazines. They are very intelligent, beautiful creatures. When you are ready to add an African hedgehog to your family, consult with a specialist at an atelier dealer to determine what exactly you need to do to ensure that your new friend is healthy, happy, and secure. Your hedgehog will thank you for making the decision to add him or her to your family.