What is a hedgehog?-
A hedgehog in general is most commonly recognized as a small mammal with a coat of stiff, pointy quills covering their backs. They have pointy noses, and slightly bulging eyes located on the sides of the face. Their ears are typically rounded, though in some species, they are elongated, and located high on the sides of the head. They do have tails, but they are small and stubby, and of very little functional use. They can roll up in a ball when threatened.
What kind of animal are hedgehogs?-
Contrary to some beliefs, hedgehogs are NOT rodents. They belong to a group of animals called insectivores, along with animals such as moles, shrews, and voles. They are absolutely NOT related to porcupines, even though the somewhat similar appearances lead many people to mistake hedgehogs for baby porcupines. There are many types of hedgehogs, but the ones most commonly kept as pets are of the "Atelerix" group.
Aren't there different kinds of hedgehogs?-
Yes. There are many different types of hedgehogs, scattered all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. Almost all of the hedgehogs kept as pets in North America are of the same type though.
Aren't hedgehogs wild animals?-
While it is true that hedgehogs are a quite recently domesticated species, the hedgehogs that we have are technically NOT wild animals. Our pet hedgehogs are a mixture of two different types of hedgehogs, and are not a naturally occurring variety.
Where do hedgehogs live in the wild?-
Essentially, across a wide percentage of Europe, Asia, and Africa. There are no hedgehog species that are native to North or South America. The hedgehogs that are most commonly kept as pets are typically from Africa. Our hedgehogs typically live in the plains regions, in areas that are often hot and dry.
What do wild hedgehogs eat?-
Hedgehogs are considered to be insectivores, which means that their main diet is insects of various types. As well, hedgehogs seem to be somewhat opportunistic, and are willing to eat small rodents, reptiles, ground nesting bird eggs and fledglings, and the occasional bits of plant materials such as vegetables and fruits.
How do wild hedgehogs live?-
Wild hedgehogs typically are solitary animals, other than mothers with offspring, and pairs during mating. They often have a home territory where they base their wanderings around. Females will often share territory, though remaining in their own seperate habits and behaviors. Males may be more territorial, and less tolerant of other males staking out the same territory. Hedgehogs don't burrow themselves, but they seem to enjoy taking advantage of pre-dug burrows that were created by other animals such as rabbits, hares, badgers, and other burrowing animals. They often line these burrows with grasses and leaves, creating a snug den where they sleep during the day. Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal, doing their hunting and wandering between the hours of dusk and dawn. They are relatively slow moving animals, though are capable of short bursts of speed, but have been known to travel a couple of miles in a single night while searching for food. Their typical slow movement, and tendancy to roll into a ball when frightened causes their primary "predator" in many habitats to be automobiles.