15 Hedgehog Facts for Kids | Love The Garden

15 Hedgehog Facts for Kids

Hannah Gransden's picture
By Hannah Gransden
A hedgehog peeking over a log

Hedgehogs are wonderful creatures that inhabit our gardens in the UK, and there are many friendly facts about hedgehog for kids that you might like to know. Here are some of the fascinating things that your little ones might to hear about.

1.They are Nocturnal

Hedgehogs are nocturnal which means that they sleep in the day and only come out at night.

2. They Are Called Hedgehogs for a Reason 

The 'Hedge' part of their name comes from where they build their nests hedges, bushes and shrubs. The ‘hog’ part comes from the small snorting/ grunting sound they make which is similar to a pig/ warthog.

3. Hedgehogs Can Hibernate

Hedgehogs have the ability to hibernate (although not all do), which makes them one of only three mammals that hibernate in the UK. Hibernating means that they hole themselves up and stay in a dormant state for winter.

A hedgehog stood on the paving

Image credit: Zoological Society of London

4. Are Lactose Intolerant

Hedgehogs are actually lactose intolerant, so milk should never be left out for them, water is perfectly fine.

5. They Weren't Always Called Hedgehogs

The hedgehog was not always called a hedgehog. Before this they were called Urchins which led to the naming of Sea Urchins.

6. Their Long Snout is Useful

Hedgehogs have a really long snout to help them hunt. It is even ahead of their mouths as it makes it easier to forage for their staple diet of insects, worms, caterpillers and berries.

A cute hedgehog curled in a ball

Image credit: ASB Images

7. They Don't Use Their Eyes to Hunt

They hunt primarily using they hearing and smell because their eyesight is not very good, although they can see quite well in the dark.

8. There Isn't Just One Species of Hedgehog

There are 15 different species of hedgehog in the world. Each are similar but have small charistic and habitual differences.  The UK only has one native species, the European Hedgehog.

9. They Have Over 5000 Spikes

Hedgehogs have around 5000 to 7000 spines on their back. These can be raised and lowered to respond to threatening situations. Each quill/ spine lasts about a year before dropping out and being replaced.

A white hedgehog standing in the grass

Image credit: Vegaprocity

10. They Have Intelligent Self-Protection

The hedgehog has a vulnerable stomach, which is why it curls up into a spiky ball when predators such as badgers are around.

11. They Self-Anoint When Stimulated

If a hedgehog smells or tastes something really strong, it will attempt to cover itself in foamy saliva, much like a cat cleaning itself. This is called self-anointing. 

12. They are Solitary Creatures

Hedgehogs venture out on their own after only four to seven weeks of nurturing from their mother. They usually then spend their entire lives alone with the exception of pairing up to mate with another hedgehog.

A young hedgehog eating food

Image credit: Ark Wildlife

13. A Group is Called an Array

It is extremely rare that you will see multiple hedgehogs together in one place other than when mating, but if you do it is called an array.

14. Hedgehogs are a Gardeners Friend

Hedgehogs have earnt this reputation because of their eating habits. Not only do they enjoy berries and fruit but the staple of their diet is made up from pests that are common in our back gardens such as beetles and caterpillars. This helps preserve the fruit and vegetables you may have growing in your gardens.

15. Little Legs Walk Far

When hedgehogs are out to forage in the evening, they can travel for up to 2 miles, that's a long way for little legs.

 

Comments

Amy Drudge's picture
Amy Drudge
Compost Queen

Incorrect Information

Posted 12 Dec 2016

Hello Dr HedgeHog & Dr Mike,

Thank you for your valuable comments, we apologise some of the facts were incorrect, these have been removed and replaced.

We have also made other information more clear, which we hope is correct.

Kind Regards

LTG

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Dr.Hedgehog

Misinformation

Posted 10 Mar 2016

Dr Mike is quite correct. Much of the information here is misleading and some incorrect. If you are going to give out advice to children please make sure you get your information from somebody who works in that field.

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DrMike

'Facts'

Posted 27 Feb 2016

Speaking as someone with 9 years experience working with wild hedgehogs at a leading UK wildlife hospital, I'm afraid that several of these 'facts' are either not true or are misleading.
Hedgehogs are one of only 3 'mammals' to hibernate in the UK along with bats and dormice, however there are other 'animals' that also hibernate e.g. toads and some butterflies. It is a myth that hedgehogs are immune to snake venom,  though they are less likely to be bitten by the UK's venomous adders due to the vulnerable areas being protected by their spines. You imply twice that berries and fruit are their favourite/main diet...but these represent only a few percent of the average diet. Around 80% of their diet is worms, beetles and caterpillars. NOTE as they are lactose intolerant NEVER feed them milk!
Although there are other species globally, there is only one native species in the UK, the european hedgehog. However, abandoned 'pet' hedgehogs (african pygmy and egyptian long eared) as shown in your 4th photo are becoming a problem. Foxes are not a significant predator of hedgehogs. Hoglets are not blind, they are born with their eyes closed like most mammals, they open after about 14days.
Hope this clarifies matters.
 

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