On November 10, we celebrate the International Hedgehog Day, a feast of spiny, insectivorous mammals. They are already asleep in winter sleep, curled up in a tight ball in their nest of leaves and grass, hidden among the branches. But it is worth mentioning them on their day and learning more about them.
Hedgehogs appeared on Earth almost 60 million years ago, and thanks to their perfect shape by evolution, they have survived to our times. Hedgehogs eat insects, snails, and small rodents, therefore these useful animals contribute to the reduction of the number of pests. They are small mammals that feed at night. Their spikes cannot be forgotten. There are about 5,000 of them. Young hedgehogs are born with them. The spines are still white and soft at first, but after a while, they become as hard as the parents’. Hedgehog spines are fortified hair that serves as a defense. When there is danger, the hedgehogs curl up into a spiky ball. But that’s not their only weapon. Frightened, they start yelling loudly and move, only to be able to more easily cut the attacker with spikes.
Around October, hedgehogs bury themselves in a safe place to survive the cold season and wake up in April. When the period is unfavorable, they sleep in a pile of leaves formed under the tree’s root. Hedgehogs hibernate because they do not have access to food. During this time, they lower the body temperature to just a few degrees.
There is a European hedgehog and an eastern hedgehog in Poland. Apart from Europe, the hedgehog also lives in Asia, Africa, and New Zealand. It does not occur in America. Unfortunately, research shows that due to changes in the use of natural lands, the European Hedgehog will be an extinct species by 2025.