The Hedgehog Subfamily (Erinaceinae)

Hedgehogs are adorable little mammals in the subfamily Erinaceinae. This subfamily boasts 17 species within 5 genera. The name "hedgehog" comes from how they search for food often around hedges, as well as their hog-snaped snout. Let's learn more about these small animals!


Physical Description and Behavior


Hedgehogs are small mammals well known for the long spines on their back. These spines are hollow and made from keratin, the same protein found in human fingernails and hair. Unlike what you see in the Sonic and Hedgehog series, they are not blue but a brown or blond color with light tips. These spines can fall out under certain circumstances and will be replaced with new ones.


Fun fact: Hedgehogs are known to roll into a ball when they feel threatened. Since hedgehogs have muscles in their back that can control the position of their quills, this can be a good defense strategy. Any animal that tries to attack or eat them will be met with a mouthful of sharp spines.


They were once considered insectivores, but are now considered to be omnivorous. They mainly consume plant matter like mushrooms, berries, and melons, but will eat insects, frogs, snails, eggs, and even carrion if need be.


Habitat and Location

Hedgehogs can be found in many parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. They were even introduced to New Zealand. In New Zealand and even some islands off the coast of Scotland, they are considered to be an invasive species. They have been hard to get rid of and cause a lot of damage to native species of snails and birds.


While they do not reside in the US, it is not uncommon for them to be kept as pets there. That said, many states have outlawed the keeping of hedgehogs as pets.


If you want to learn more about this subfamily, check out the video below!


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