Hedgehog erinaceus europaeus foraging for food in autumn woodland setting UK

- Image ID: B60GC1
Gary K Smith / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: B60GC1
European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus Hedgehogs are named after their pig-like habit of rooting through the undergrowth for food. They are quite noisy and can be heard snuffling and grunting during their activities. Life span Up to five years. Statistics Body length: 15-30 cm, Weight: 1.5-2 kg. Physical description The hedgehog is Britain.s only spiny mammal. The upper parts of the head and body are covered in short, yellow-tipped spines - adults may have up to 5000 spines. The rest of the body is covered with brown fur, and the hedgehog has a short tail. Distribution European hedgehogs range across Europe, including Britain, from Scandinavia to Romania. They were introduced to New Zealand. Habitat Their preferred habitat is forest, hedgerows, scrub and cultivated land, and they are commonly found in gardens. Diet Hedgehogs eat slugs, snails, beetles and earthworms. They also sometimes feed on eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds. Behaviour Hedgehogs are solitary, non-territorial animals and are most active at night after heavy rainfall. In summer, hedgehogs shelter during the day in temporary nests of leaves, moss and grass. By autumn, hedgehogs have dramatically put on weight in preparation for their hibernation. Their hibernation nests are typically situated under hedgerows. They hibernate until the following March or April, during which time their body temperature and heart beat fall dramatically, from 190 to about 20 beats per minute. Most hedgehog deaths occur during this hibernation period. Their eyesight is poor, but their sense of smell and hearing are very good, and they can swim and climb well. Their dense covering of spines offers protection when the animal is disturbed, rolling up in a tight ball covering the head and soft underside.