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Why do Hedgehogs Roll Into a Ball?

Written by Nayantara Singh, a grade 10 student

Hedgehogs are small, brown mammals with long spikes on their backs called quills (it’s modified hair on its back)

By I Kid You Not , in Facts to Know , at May 1, 2024 Tags: ,

Written by Nayantara Singh, a grade 10 student

Have you wondered – what are Hedgehogs? If you have, here we tell you all the facts about hedgehogs – what hedgehog spikes are called, hedgehog behaviours and why hedgehogs roll into a ball.

What are Hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs are small, brown mammals with long spikes on their backs called quills (it’s modified hair on its back) – you may have seen them. They look like the image below

What are Hedgehogs?
Eating habits BehaviourLifespanHair
Omnivorous
(eat both plants and small animals like toads, insects, etc.)
Not friendly
Roll themselves into a ball when threatened
Are nocturnal
4-6 years in the wild
8-10 years in captivity (depending on the species)
The (modified) hair on its back is a thick layer of spikes known as quills.

There are seventeen species of hedgehogs that are mostly found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand.

Did you know
A Heddehog’s quills are made of keratin, the same stuff our hair and fingernails are made of.

They are nocturnal (come out at night), insectivorous animals, meaning they mostly eat insects. Their main characterization is the covering of sharp spines on their backs.

Why do hedgehogs roll themselves into a ball?

Why do hedgehogs roll themselves into a ball?

When Hedgehogs are threatened, they roll themselves into a ball, and their spines stand out. This makes it difficult for predators (those who eat other animals) to bite or claw them without getting hurt. Hedgehogs also have other behavioural tactics for self-protection – they play dead, run away and also hiss and puff up their bodies.

Playing dead sometimes works, as the hedgehog stays completely still, making it seem lifeless, and the predators often lose interest.
Running away is also a common response, as hedgehogs are very fast and can quickly run into safety.
Hissing and puffing up their bodies is a way to scare off predators. The loud hissing sound and the sight of a larger, puffed-up hedgehog can sometimes scare away the other animals.

Hedgehogs are omnivorous. They eat insects, snails, frogs and toads, snakes, bird eggs, carrion, mushrooms, grass roots, berries, and melons. They live about 8-10 years in captivity and 4-7 years in the wild, depending on the species.

Why is it called a hedgehog?

Why is it called a hedgehog?

The word comes from:

Hedge: Hedge refers to hedgerows – that is rows of bushes and shrubs – that hedgehogs like to live in.
Hog: The second part comes from the word “hog,” which refers to the pig-like sounds hedgehogs make when they grunt, snort or snuffle

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