Hedgehog – Erinaceus europaeus
Hedgehogs are native to mainland Britain and are also found throughout northern and western Europe. Related and similar species are also found as far as north Africa, the Middle East and central Asia.
The hedgehog has a powerful forefoot and claws for digging for its favourite food of slugs and worms – they may eat 40 or more slugs a night. They can also climb, swim and can sprint a surprisingly fast 6 mph! If threatened they can roll up into a ball as protection against predators. Their biggest enemy apart from man is the badger.
Hedgehogs hibernate alone from November to April under a supporting structure such as a shed, wood piles, brambles or bonfire heaps. They may, however, emerge to forage at night during any warm winter spells.
|Size:||Length 23 cm plus 4 cm tail. Weight up to 2 kg.|
|Description:||Male (boar) is slightly larger than the female (sow). Whole upper part of head and body covered with 5,000 cream, brown and white banded spines, 20 cm long, which are modified hairs. The under-parts are covered by coarse grey-brown fur, forming long skirts along flanks.|
|Habitat:||Parks, gardens and farmland. They prefer woodland edges, hedgerows and suburban gardens where food is plentiful.|
|Young:||2 litters of 4 – 7 young. The pale-coloured soft spines appear hours after birth and take 3 weeks to harden. Become independent of mother at 4 – 6 weeks. Gestation period 34 days. Average life expectancy is|
2 – 3 years.
|Nest:||Build nest of moss and leaves in under vegetation, or in banks.|
|Diet:||Beetles, caterpillars and other insects, worms, frogs, birds eggs, young birds and mammals.|
|Population:||Estimated to be 1 million, a decline of 50% since the 1990s, due to loss and fragmentation of habitat, road casualties and the use of slug pellets.|