Download This Sample
This sample is exclusively for KidsKonnect members!
To download this worksheet, click the button below to signup for free (it only takes a minute) and you'll be brought right back to this page to start the download!
Sign Me Up
A hedgehog is a small mammal with spiky spines on its back. They have been around for about 15 million years and are one of the cutest animals you’ll ever see. For more information on Hedgehogs read the fact file below or download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Hedgehog General Information
- The scientific Latin name for a hedgehog is Erinaceus europaeus. It is a mammal from the subfamily Erinaceinae, which is in the order Erinaceomorpha.
- The name hedgehog first came into use in the Middle Ages around the year 1450.
- The hedgehog was named because of its peculiar foraging methods. These animals root through hedges and other undergrowth in search of the small creatures that compose the bulk of their diet. As a hedgehog picks its way through the hedges, it emits piglike grunts — thus, the hedgehog.
- The hedgehog is one of the first mammals to evolve, and the hedgehog as we know it has been around for 15 million years, surviving ice ages in the process
- There are seventeen different species of hedgehog found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand, where they were introduced as a species.
- There are no hedgehogs native to Australia and no living species native to the Americas.
- Hedgehogs have around 5,000 spiked spines on their backs, which are known as quills, and each one typically lasts around one year.
- These quills are defensive and are useful to protect the hedgehog from attacks by foxes and badgers.
- When hedgehogs feel threatened, they can curl up into a spiky ball, protecting their belly and face from attack.
- Hedgehogs are easily recognized by their spines, which are hollow hairs made stiff with keratin.
- Their spines are not poisonous or barbed and, unlike the quills of a porcupine, do not easily detach from their bodies.
- The immature animal’s spines normally fall out as they are replaced with adult spines. This is called “quilling”.
- Spines can also be shed when the animal is diseased or under extreme stress.
- Hedgehogs are usually brown, with pale tips to the spines, though blond hedgehogs are found on the Channel Island of Alderney.
- The most common domesticated hedgehog is the African pygmy hedgehog, which is a hybrid of the white-bellied hedgehog or four-toed hedgehog and the North African hedgehog.
- All species of hedgehogs can roll into a tight ball in self-defense, causing all of the spines to point outwards.
- The hedgehog’s back contains two large muscles that control the position of the quills.
- When the creature is rolled into a ball, the quills on the back protect the tucked face, feet, and belly, which are not quilled.
- Since the effectiveness of this strategy depends on the number of spines, some desert hedgehogs that evolved to carry less weight are more likely to flee or attack, ramming an intruder with the spines. Rolling into a spiny ball for those species is a last resort.
Family and Lifestyle of Hedgehogs
- Hedgehogs are solitary animals and are not social.
- Their lifespan is about five years, and some even live longer than eight years.
- Hedgehogs weigh around 2 lbs (1 kg), and they don’t leave footprints unless the ground is very soft.
- A group of hedgehogs is called an array or prickle.
- The male hedgehog is called a boar, and they are not involved with rearing their offspring.
- Female hedgehogs are known as sows, and they will give birth to a litter of 3-4 or 5-6 newborns, depending on the species of hedgehog.
- The name for a baby hedgehog is a hoglet.
- Baby hedgehogs are born blind with a protective membrane covering their quills, which dries and shrinks over several hours.
- They learn to hunt quickly and will survive on their own after only 2-3 months.
- Hedgehogs are a fairly vocal animal, and can communicate through a combination of grunts, snuffles and/or squeals, depending on the species.
- Hedgehogs are quite fast and can travel up to 1,3 miles (3 km) per hour, covering about 6 feet (1,8 m) per second when hunting for food.
- Hedgehogs prefer woodland edges, hedgerows, and suburban habitats where there is plenty of food for them.
- Intensively farmed arable land is probably a poor habitat, as are moorlands and dense conifer forests.
- Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal, though some species can also be active during the day.
- Hedgehogs sleep for a large portion of the day under bushes, in clumps of grass, rocks, or most commonly in dens dug in the ground, with varying habits among the species.
- All wild hedgehogs can hibernate, though not all do.
- The factors that determine whether a hedgehog will hibernate can include the temperature, the species of hedgehog, and the availability of food.
- If the hedgehog does hibernate, they construct a special nest called a hibernaculum. During their hibernation, the body temperature drops, and they slow their breathing rate.
- Many hedgehogs lose up to half their body weight during hibernation and must find food quickly when they wake.
Diet: What do Hedgehogs eat?
- Hedgehogs are omnivores and have a very varied diet. They eat many things, including insects, snails, frogs and toads, snakes, bird eggs, carrion, mushrooms, berries, melons, and watermelons.
- Sometimes, hedgehogs will search for earthworms, especially after rainstorms.
- Hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, but they have an excellent sense of smell and hearing – both of which are used for them to sniff out and hear their prey.
- Hedgehogs have some natural immunity against snake venom due to the protein erinacin in the animal’s muscles, and they aren’t affected by bites from an adder, but a large snake, like a viper, could still kill them.
- Hedgehogs can suffer many of the same diseases as humans, including cancer, fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease.
- Meat-based cat or dog food, or specially-made hedgehog food can be fed to hedgehogs if you think they are visiting your garden.
- These solitary animals typically couple only for mating.
- Depending on the species, the gestation period is 35–58 days.
- The average litter is 3–4 newborns for larger species and 5–6 for smaller ones.
- The young born each year remain with their mothers for only four to seven weeks before heading out on their own.
- Hedgehog mothers have also been known to eat their young if the nest is disturbed, though they sometimes simply move them to a new nest.
- It is not unusual for an adult male hedgehog to kill newborn males.
Hedgehogs as pets
- Hedgehogs can be a fun and low-maintenance pet, but they do need some special care.
- They have sharp quills that can make handling difficult.
- Consistent and proper daily handling will help them relax and feel comfortable with you.
- Hedgehogs can bite you, but very rarely will that happen. This usually happens when they are young and think your fingers are going to feed them (if they have been fed via a syringe as they had no mother).
- Contact with hedgehogs can be a source of human Salmonella infections. Hedgehogs can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness. Salmonella bacteria are shed in their droppings and can easily contaminate their bodies and anything in the area where hedgehogs live and roam.
- Some regions have banned the practice of keeping hedgehogs, as some carry the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease. They can also transmit viral and fungal diseases, and their sharp spines can puncture the skin and cause infections.
- Owning a hedgehog in some US States is actually illegal – including California and Pennsylvania.
- In the UK, wild hedgehogs are considered an endangered species, and it is illegal to keep one as a pet.
This bundle contains 10 ready-to-use Hedgehog Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about the Hedgehog which is a small mammal with spiky spines on its back. They have been around for about 15 million years and are one of the cutest animals you’ll ever see.
Download includes the following worksheets:
Anatomy of a Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as Hedgehog Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, June 27, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.