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Hedgehogs are mammals from the hedgehog and gymnure (also known as moonrat) family. They are nocturnal, which means they mostly come out at night.

A male hedgehog is called a boar. A female hedgehog is called a sow. A baby hedgehog is called a hoglet. In theory, a group of hedgehogs is called a prickle or an array but, in reality, that only applies to hoglets who huddle together for warmth. Hedgehogs are solitary creatures so they don't hang out in groups.


Hedgehogs sleep in nests, usually hidden from sight like under sheds or compost heaps so do check these for sleeping hedgehogs before you get rid of them! They hibernate over winter, when their nest is called a "hibernaculum". They are found across the UK in a wide variety of habitats be it rural or urban, but they tend to prefer woodland edges, hedgerows, and suburban areas like parks and gardens where they are near to food.

There are 17 species of hedgehog; if you see one in London outdoors, it is probably a European hedgehog.

What does it need?

Variety is the spice of life! Hedgehogs eat insects, arachnids, snails, amphibians, birds' eggs, plus domestic food waste though not all of it is good for them.

What needs it?

Badgers, foxes, large owls and hawks prey on hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs particularly like beetles and earthworms, helping gardeners to ward off plant loss. They also help to disperse seeds by eating fruit.

As hedgehogs have a wide appetite and can survive in a range of habitats, they are a good indicator of the local wildlife environment. When their numbers are declining, this indicates poor environmental health and ecosystem, which eventually affects other species including us. In the 1950s, there were around 30 million hedgehogs in Britain; as of the last assessment in 2018, there were less than 1 million.

Fun fact!

Research shows that hedgehogs have a partial resistance to snake venom (even more so when hibernating), and the only venomous snake in Britain (the adder) is incapable of biting a hedgehog through its spines.

See a video here, and learn more here!

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