February 2nd is Hedgehog Day! These cute little guys are becoming quite popular as pets, and definitely deserve to be celebrated. Here, a Pasadena, MD vet lists some things you probably didn’t know about Hedgie.
Although there is a term for a group of hedgehogs—an array—it isn’t used much. These guys are quite solitary by nature, and only pair up to mate.
Hedgehogs are not native to America. They have been residing in Britain for quite a while, however. In fact, Shakespeare refers to them as ‘hedge pigs’ and ‘urchins’ in The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
British hedgehog numbers have plummeted in recent years. Researchers suspect that a loss of their natural habitat—the hedge—may be to blame. There is hope, however: newer studies seem to indicate a comeback.
Hedgie has between 5000 and 7000 quills, which he can puff out if threatened. These quills are light, as they are hollow, but are also quite strong. They aren’t poisonous, and they aren’t barbed, so you don’t have to worry about being injured.
Hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, so they rely on scents and sounds. This may explain Hedgie’s fondness of brightly colored playthings. Vivid colors stand out more and are easier to see.
Back in 2013, Hedgie won a BBC poll and was unofficially named Britain’s national emblem, replacing the lion. Although the British Hedgehog Society was thrilled, environment minister Rory Stewart was less enthusiastic. His comment on the matter? “Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that when confronted with danger rolls over into a little ball and puts its spikes up? Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that sleeps for six months of the year, or would we rather return to the animal that is already our national symbol, the lion?” Ouch.
Traditionally, it was a hedgehog, not a groundhog, that predicted how long winter would last. Since there were no native hedgehogs in America, the groundhog was nominated as a stand-in.
In New Zealand, a satirical political party, The McGillicuddy Serious Party, tried to get a hedgehog elected to Parliament. Needless to say, Hedgie lost.
Do you have questions about hedgehogs? Contact us, your Pasadena, MD vet clinic!