Look what I found! Can you recognise what kind of prickly creature this is? Yes, it’s a hedgehog! My dad was working outside, raking leaves and trimming the hedges, when he spotted this spiky, rolled-up little bundle. This interesting encounter inspired me to learn more about hedgehogs and hibernation. Here are 5 facts about hedgehogs!
1. Hibernation in winter, aestivation in summer?
Most of you are probably familiar with the concept of hibernation. Animals like hedgehogs in harsher climates have to sleep through the winter to survive. The weather is too cold and food becomes scarce, so hibernation is the best option. However, did you know that there is also such a thing as aestivation? In desert climates, hedgehogs also sleep through particularly hot and dry periods (often in summer).
2. Hedgehogs like to party at night!
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, which means they only like to come out at night. They prefer to spend the day asleep and usually hide in the bushes. When you see hedgehogs during the day, they were probably disturbed by something (or someone)!
3. Hedgehogs can have over 5000 spines
Hedgehogs are known for their spiky skin, but did you know each hedgehog can have over 5000 spines? Most spines will fall out after about a year, but it will be replaced by a new spine (a little bit like human hair).
4. Why do hedgehogs curl up?
Arguably, their spiky coats are Hedgehogs’ best defense. Nevertheless, when Hedgehogs feel threatened, they also curl up. But why do they do this? The reason that hedgehogs turn into spiky little balls is because they are trying to protect their stomach. This is the most vulnerable part of their body, as it doesn’t have any dangerous spikes sticking out. This also means their vital organs aren’t protected by their spikes. So, the reason why hedgehogs like to roll up is to prevent any damage.
5. Baby bedgehogs are blind
Did you know that baby hedgehogs can’t see? They are born blind and with very soft spines. After about 2 months, the babies begin to learn how to see and go on their first foraging trip with their mother. After about 5 to 7 weeks, the baby hedgehogs separate form their mother and have to survive on their own.
What do you think? Did any of these facts about hedgehogs surprise you? I was really excited to photograph a healthy hedgehog in its natural habitat. Usually, I only see them wounded or dead along the road, which is always a sad sight. It took a while before it dared to peak out of its protective bubble to see if there were still any annoying humans around. Still, I was patient and I managed to take a few shots before it slowly retreated back to its residential hedge. It just sat there looking at me for a few seconds before leaving. I wonder if it was curious, puzzled, scared, annoyed or angry (it was probably just fascinated by the intense ugliness of the giant creature staring right in its face). I guess that’s what it must feel like to be hunted by paparazzi.