Hedgehog – prickly mammal
Hedgehogs are small mammals. They live in the wild in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Some people keep them as pets. Hedgehogs are found in deserts, forests, grasslands, marshes, and gardens. They are nocturnal animals. During the day they sleep in holes and come out at night to eat insects, especially earthworms, slugs, spiders, small reptiles. Their strong claws are useful for digging insects out of the ground. They are popular in gardens, where they eat insect pests.
There are 15 species of hedgehog.
The hedgehogs have thousands of sharp spines that cover everything except the belly, legs, face, and ears. They curl into a ball to protect themselves from predators. If attacked, a hedgehog will fight quite noisily, screaming in fury. Spines are updated every three years.
Some hedgehogs hibernate in the winter. During the winter the hedgehog loses up to 40% of its weight. Therefore, waking up, he immediately goes in search of food.
Residents of tropical areas do not hibernate. They are solitary animals.
The female produces usually three or four babies after about four or five weeks of pregnancy. Babies are born blind and their spines are white and soft.
There are hairy hedgehogs that have hair instead of spines. They look like rats and can be as long as 46 centimeters.
Daurian hedgehog lives in the Gobi Desert and eats small rodents. It has longer ears than other hedgehogs.
Moonrat of Malaysia is the largest insectivore in the hedgehog family. It can be more than 66 cm long.
– They have 36 teeth.
– Hedgehogs appeared on Earth about 15 million years ago.
– These animals have immune to the poison of vipers. Even the strongest poisons: mercuric chloride, arsenic, cyanide, hydrocyanic acid, etc. are not dangerous for hedgehogs.
– In Serbian folk medicine their urine is used as a cure for alcoholism.
– Roast hedgehog is a traditional dish of Roma.
– In ancient Rome their skins were used for combing wool.
– In case of danger the female can leave or eat her offspring.
– Hedgehogs do not hunt mice because they are not able to catch up with them.
– Hedgehog is a symbol of untiring labor, virtue, honesty, freedom, originality. In China and Japan it is considered a symbol of wealth.