Ouch! Hedgehog Day highlights these loveable creatures but heed this word of warning, don’t get too close. As we all know hedgehogs are covered in spines but what you may not have known is that these spines are actually hollow hairs stiffened by keratin.
Hedgehogs use their spines as a defense mechanism when under threat by rolling into a tight ball so all the spikes point outwards, what is less well known is that they also use them for cheese and pineapple during cocktail parties (there is yet to be any photographic evidence of this).
Hedgehogs rely heavily on their sense of smell; they can smell food under an inch of soil and can often sense the presence of danger. They tend to search for food at night and can travel a distance of 2-3 KMs. One very strange fact about hedgehogs is that they self-anoint which seems to be connected with irregular smells or tastes making them create large quantities of frothy saliva which they flick over their spines with their tongue (please do not disturb a hedgehog in the middle of this process, it’s like catching someone in the shower).
There have been a number of famous hedgehogs in popular culture, the most famous probably being Sonic the Hedgehog, he’s certainly the fastest. Beatrix Potter created Mrs. Tiggywinkle, another well-known hedgehog who happens to be extremely good at laundry; however, she has never washed Sonic’s smelly trainers.
Enjoy hedgehogs responsibly:
- It’s fine to offer food but cat/dog food is better than milk and bread
- Always allow an escape route from your pond or water feature
- Always check bonfires before lighting
- Leave gaps in walls and fences to encourage the spiny visitors
Hedgehog Day is both a Roman tradition preceding the modern ‘Groundhog Day’, as well as the release date for Sonic The Hedgehog 3 in the USA, in 1994.