A hedgehog in my garden!!! And he's very very shy!"
This is the biggest "riccio" (hedgehog or Urchin) I have seen yet here in my garden. I have a lot of space and I am near a park where they are common so they often come wandering through my garden. Usually they are baby riccios but this one must have been an adult? It let me come very close but every time it saw the camera it curled up in a ball or turned it's face away. Rather shy I would say!
What is the difference between a porcupine and a hedgehog?
They are only alike superficially. Hedgehogs are insectivores and porcupines are rodents. Hedgehogs feed mainly on insects while Porcupines (in North America) eat tree bark and buds in the high branches and will chew up and destroy tools and things you touch with sweaty hands since they crave salt, and love to gnaw. They will chew the wires and hoses under the hood in your car, so beware. Hedgehogs are not found in America, and are just harmless. Porcupines will also swat animals (like your pet dog) in the face with their tails, if they get close to them, and the quills burrow themselves in. A vet will have to painfully pull those barbed quills out or they will keep working further ways inwards, the dog may get a bad infection from them and die. Porcupines won't attack you but give them their space, to stay safe. They can also grow a good bit bigger than hedgehogs. Even bigger ones live in Africa.
Hedgehogs will roll into a ball when in danger, so that makes it harder for the predator to try to bite. They have very short quills that can still poke but do not come out. Hedgehogs are much smaller and less dangerous than porcupines.
Is it true Hedgehogs can eat poisonous snakes, bees and wasps?
Yes! They can eat lots of things. Hedgehogs hunt at night and feed mainly on insects, but they also eat snails, mice, birds, frogs, snakes and lizards. Hedgehogs are also one of the few mammals that attack and eat bees and wasps. The stings of these insects appear to have no effect on the hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs have even been known to eat poisonous snakes! The snake’s fangs cannot penetrate the hedgehog’s sharp spines and reach its skin. The hedgehog waits until the snake gets tired in its attempts to bite it. Then the hedgehog grabs the snake and breaks its backbone. Finally, the hedgehog eats the snake—poisonous glands and all.Hedgehogs have a high level of immunity to viper venom.
Do Hedgehogs Really Spit on Themselves?
Yes, hedgehogs do spit on themselves, but nobody really knows why. Hedgehogs will lick a rock or a piece of wood to start the saliva flowing. Then they swing their heads back and forth, spitting freely. Hedgehogs use their tongues to coat their spines with the spit. This startling behavior may continue for twenty minutes.
Some animal experts have ideas about the spitting. Some say the saliva the hedgehog produces may drive away predators. Others believe it attracts hedgehogs during the mating season. Still others say the saliva works against parasites—usually ticks, fleas, or small worms—that feed on a hedgehog’s body.
How Do Hedgehogs Communicate?
Hedgehogs have several ways of expressing themselves. A content hedgehog will chirp, squeak, or whistle softly. When a hedgehog screams, it means it’s in danger or in serious pain. When a hedgehog coughs, it does not mean it’s sick. Rather, the hedgehog is sending out a warning to other animals to stay away from its territory or food source.
Watching hedgehogs in captivity shows that they also communicate with their spines. If there is a noise nearby, the hedgehog’s spines will stand up straight in the direction of the disturbance. When it raises the spines on its forehead, the hedgehog is shocked or cautious. If a hedgehog trusts a person, it keeps its spines flat and even allows that person to pet it without being harmed.
Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets?
You may be surprised to know that the answer is yes. Hedgehogs can be tamed easily and can be as enjoyable as pets as dogs or cats. A pet hedgehog can even be trained to stand on its hind legs.
Another good reason for having a pet hedgehog could be pest control. Hedgehogs can help keep houses and gardens free of bothersome insects and other pests.