Hedgehogs – Some Hair Raising Facts

Hedgehogs
Image Credit: Hedgehog by Daniel Wehner

Hedgehogs are lovely little creatures, but did you know that hedgehog numbers in the UK have dropped by a third in the last nine years alone? Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a hedgehog?! Their loss in numbers is due to a number of factors, mostly the amount of new roads and housing estates that have been built which is causing habitat loss. 

It is estimated that only 1 million hedgehogs remain in the UK, which is ridiculously low considering there were as many as 36 million only 60 years ago! Climate change has a lot to answer for, particularly the extreme weather changes we have faced in Britain over the past decade. Hedgehogs are lovely animals, and I’ve decided to shed some light on this most elusive of creatures by jotting down a few facts that will be a surprise to many regular readers.

Piggy Wiggy Woo

Hedgehogs are named for two reasons. One you will of course know; that they scurry around amongst the hedgerows looking for food and sleeping. But did you know that whilst they are doing this, they also make pig like grunting noises?! Yep, the hedgeHOG has definitely got a bit of ‘oink oink’ going on during its evenings scratching around in the undergrowth! They mostly eat beetles and other insects, which is why they are also known as the ‘Gardener’s Friend’.

Sleepy Time

Hedgehogs love to hibernate during the winter, and usually trundle of to their chosen spot at the end of November. They then usually reappear before the end February to check out what’s been going on! Whilst hibernating, the hedgehog’s heart rate goes all the way down to 20 beats per minute instead of the usual 190. They like to nest in the corner of sheds and brushwood, so be sure to check out these places before you have a spring clean, you may find a sleeping visitor!

All Action Jackson

Amazingly, hedgehogs are really good swimmers! Unfortunately they can’t go too far as they tire very easily. I’m not surprised, have you seen the size of their arms and legs?! They can also get a bit of a sprint on when they need to, and can run up to speeds of over 4 miles per hour! They are like the Daley Thompson of the undergrowth!

The Household Hedgehog and owning one.

It is a hybrid of the four-toed hedgehog and the African hedgehog that has made their way into households with large gardens and lots of greenery. While certain breeds can be they can be happily kept as pets in the UK , be careful because if you should get sold a wild hedgehog they are actually endangered and therefore it is illegal to keep as a pet. In the USA and some states in Canada owning a hedgehog is illegal as well. The best advice, if in the UK is to get in touch with the British Hedgehogs Preservation Society or in the US the International Hedgehog Association.

With their number dropping dramatically across the country, here’s hoping that these lovely little creatures are given some kind of human support in their fight for survival because everyone needs the hedgehog, even the hedges!

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