With the arrival of summer, you’ll start to see little spined balls moving about at the edges of woods. What sort of mysterious animal is this? It’s a hedgehog.
Hedgehogs are very common in the open countryside, but it’s not unusual to find them in gardens as well.
Let’s learn something about them:
– They belong to the insectivore order, that is, all those animals that eat insects, worms and small – even poisonous – snakes, but it is the only one of them that goes into lethargy between November and March.
– Its spined armour is amazing: aside from its well-known quills, it has remarkable back muscles that turn it into an almost unbeatable spiky adversary when threatened.
– Hedgehogs sleep in tunnels they dig into the ground at a depth of some 50 cm, where they store grass and dry leaves.
– Baby hedgehogs are born without quills, naked, white and blind. The quills start growing a few days after birth and a month later they are already hard.
– Hedgehogs are real sleepyheads. Being nocturnal, they sleep some 18 hours a day!
Hedgehogs go into lethargy during the coldest part of the year when temperatures dip below 12°C. They prepare for this long rest period by stocking up on energy in the form of fats to be able to survive for that long.
This is why we see them rummaging about our gardens in summer.
What should we do if we find one looking a bit lost, perhaps by the side of the road?
First of all, we must remember that hedgehogs are safeguarded by various laws, and we cannot keep them or turn them into pets.
But if we find one in difficulty due to some injury, sickness or in an area that poses imminent danger, pick it up and bring it to your local wild animal recovery centre, or call your vet and ask him or her how to temporarily care for it and what to do then.
To find the recovery centre nearest you, call your local animal rescue centre.