Once walking in the forest, we saw a hedgehog near a road. We approached it, but the hedgehog did not get afraid, did not run away, but was sniffing us. We took it in hands and the hedgehog seemed to like it — it felt good, posed for camera. Thus we made photographs which you see here. It looks really lovely, isn’t it?
Hedgehog’s head, back, and sides are covered with spines, which are up to 20 mm long. The spines are hollow inside. They grow even as hair, but are replaced less often. In average, only one third of all spines is replaced per year.
Hedgehog’s spines are a remarkable means of protection. When threatened, a hedgehog curls into a ball with its strong spines protruding to all sides.
Hedgehogs clean their spines with long middle fingers on their paws. And they lick the breast with the tongue.
Contrary to squirrels, hedgehogs do not store food for winter: in winter they hibernate and do not need food.
The main food of hedgehogs is insects and worms. They also eat acorns, berries, mushrooms. They can even filch vegetables from gardens.
In summer, females construct nests under piles of dry branches or roots of trees and line them with dry leaves. In the nest, several young (up to 8) are born. Newborn hedgehogs are blind and hairless. But after several hours, first soft hairs appear on the young. With time, the hairs become more dark and firm. By the 18th day, bodies of the young are completely covered with dark strong spines.
In autumn, hedgehogs prepare warm nests for wintering. They make burrows and line them with dry leaves and moss. They hibernate, rolled up into a ball.
Hedgehog’s life expectancy is about 6 years.