Hedgehogs come in all sizes. They can be small at about 4-6
inches long and weighing two ounces. They can be larger at
about 10-18 inches long and about three pounds.
Two kinds of hedgehogs are the European and
the desert hedgehog. The European kind lives in the woods from
England to the Soviet Union and in New Zealand. The desert one
lives on the edge of the Sahara Desert and in Iraq.
The European hedgehog has about 3000-5000 sharp
spines that cover its body. This helps protect it from
enemies. The hedgehog waddles when it walks but it can run
really fast when it needs to.
Hedgehogs live alone unless it is mating
time. They mate between April and August. The female is pregnant
for six to seven weeks and gives birth to 4 or 5 babies. The
male doesn't hang around to raise these babies. After five or
six weeks, the babies go out on their own. This animal lives
from 5-6 years.
European hedgehogs eat earthworms, insects, eggs,
young birds, and dead animals. Most of these animals look for
food during the daytime but some are nocturnal.
This depends on what kind of hedgehog it is.
European hedgehogs adapt
to their climate with hibernation.
Because they hibernate, they are able to live through cold seasons
when they can't get food. When the outside temperature goes
below 59 degrees Fahrenheit, they go into hibernation. They
sleep from October to April. Their body temperature goes down
to about 43 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually their heart beats
about 100 times a minute. During hibernation, it drops to 10
times a minute. Their breathing slows down so that their
bodies don't need much energy to live.
European climates have cold seasons and hot
seasons. The hedgehog will hibernate through the cold times
and estivate through
the hot ones. This is how they adapt. European hedgehogs
are mostly hibernators with only a little estivation.
The desert hedgehogs are mostly estivators with a tiny bit of
Desert hedgehogs like to eat insects, scorpions,
snakes, and dead animals. When the desert gets really hot,
their food supply goes underground. Estivation, or sleeping
through the hottest part of summer, keeps the hedgehog alive.
Desert hedgehogs live alone and look around for
food at night. They mate once a year between July and
September. The female is pregnant
for 5-6 weeks and gives birth to 2-10 babies. The babies leave
their mother after six weeks.
When the desert hedgehog senses that it is
getting too hot, it begins estivation. It looks for some place
cool and goes to sleep. This usually happens between January
and March, the same time as European ones are hibernating.
This is because it is hot in the desert at the same time that it is
cold in Europe.
The desert hedgehog's body slows down but not
nearly as much as it would in hibernation. They will go
outside a lot during estivation but they don't do a lot of moving
around when they do. They sleep for about a week at a time
until they get done with the really hot weather.
Desert hedgehogs don't have really cold weather
in the desert. For this reason, they don't really hibernate
the same as the European ones do. The desert hedgehogs' bodies
do not slow down as much and if it got really, really cold sometime,
a lot of them would die because they haven't adapted that well to
extreme cold. They haven't needed to.
Back to Hibernation