What Is a European Hedgehog?


The European hedgehog is a small mammal with long legs, a short tail, small ears and a pig-like snout. It generally grows to around 14 inches in length and weighs two pounds. Its most notable feature is the array of 7,000 one-inch long, transparent spines that protect its body.

Each spine is controlled by its own muscle that allows the animal to roll into a tight ball. European hedgehogs are nocturnal, often traveling half a mile at night in search of snails, slugs, earthworms and beetles. They are indigenous to Western Europe, including Britain, and range from Scandinavia to Romania. Hedgehogs are not an endangered species, but due to habitat loss they are protected by law in Great Britain.

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