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Help & Reference : Learn About Nature : Reference Guide : Mammals : Hedgehog


Common name: Hedgehog

Also known as: Urchin, hedgepig & Mrs Tiggy-Winkle
Scientific name: Erinaceus europaeus
Size: Up to 30cm when mature
Weight: Up to 2kg
Colour: Yellow tipped spines on grey/brown back and sides and lighter face and belly.
Life span: Can live for up to 5 years in the wild. One has been known to live to 17 in captivity.


A small prickly, nocturnal (night-time) mammal, with a pointy nose, 2cm long spines, small eyes, quite surprisingly long legs and a short tail.

Often seen and heard in gardens in the evening/night. Hibernates during the winter in piles of leaves/compost heaps and under bushes. If threatened they will roll-up into a ball and won't unroll until danger has passed.


These animals are found all over the UK, and although they are in decline, I have seen them in Corfe Mullen (in my garden) for the last two summers.


Slugs, snails, worms, caterpillars and insects (such as beetles) are their main diet. They are very noisy eaters and you can often hear them before you see them. Although they do also enjoy a small tin of meat based pet food and a bowl of water.


As their name implies, hedgehogs like to be near a hedge! This is why they have historically done so well in villages and towns (as our gardens all have little hedges). However, with so many people doing away with hedges and lawns, the number of hedgehogs has started to decline.

They do also live in the countryside, but again they have suffered from the loss of hedges over the last 50 years.

Did you know

An adult hedgehog has about 5,000/7,000 spines.

Hedgehogs will seek and and kill adders (snakes). Hedgehogs are partially immune to adder venom. When the adder bites the hedgehog rolls up into a ball until the adder has used up all it's venom trying to bite it, then it  will unroll and kill and eat the adder.









Extra Information

Wild About Britain

British Hedgehog
Preservation Society