Hedgehogs are a favorite creature of many people, which makes sense considering they are quite unique animals with the numerous tiny spikes that cover their bodies. Some people even keep these cuties as pets, which is perhaps the case for you.
This article will provide you with some information about hedgehogs, including whether they have tails and how to care for one of these animals as a pet. Whether you are simply curious about hedgehogs or want to care for one as best as possible, read on to learn all about these interesting mammals.
Hedgehogs Throughout the Years
Some people might actually be under the false impression that they are related to porcupines due to their somewhat similar appearance, but they are not. Rather, they are most closely related to shrews and moles.
Hedgehogs have been around for 75 times longer than modern human beings, with fossils indicating they evolved about 15 million years ago. They have not changed much in those millions of years leading up to the present day.
Interestingly, one type of hedgehog that is now extinct was the size of a modern-day pig. It lived in the Mediterranean region, and, unfortunately, it went extinct a very long time ago.
Let’s take a look at the biology of hedgehogs, including their appearance and some information about their diet and natural environments.
Habits and Natural Environment
Wild hedgehogs can hibernate throughout the winter months, and the main sense they utilize is that of smell.
They have a wide diet, including fruits, vegetables, and insects. They can thrive in many different kinds of environments, with their natural ones being found in Africa, New Zealand, Asia, and Europe.
There are a lot of different varieties of hedgehogs, but when it comes to their tails, they all have one thing in common, as you will see below.
Hedgehogs are about 20 to 30 centimeters in length, and they can be tan, brown, gray, or albino. They use their feet to efficiently dig and climb.
They are covered by thousands of sharp spikes that effectively help protect the animals from predators. These spikes are called spines.
Hedgehogs shed these spines similar to how we would lose hair. In fact, these spikes are actually made of the same thing as skin and hair.
Baby hedgehogs are born with their spines underneath the surface of their skin, but they emerge not long after birth.
Since the hedgehog is completely covered in these spines, it is difficult to see their 10-centimeter-long legs unless they are in the middle of running. It is also sometimes hard to notice their small ears, which are covered in the spines, too.
Although most hedgehogs’ ears are pretty small, there are some in the Middle East and Asia that have longer ears. Regardless of their ear size, these mammals have a very keen sense of hearing, and they use it just as often as their sense of smell.
Both of these senses are so important to this animal because they hunt for prey and are most active, in general, at night, since they are nocturnal creatures.
Along with using its spikes to protect itself, the hedgehog also utilizes a defense mechanism that involves rolling their bodies up as tightly as possible.
Do Hedgehogs Have Tails?
You are still probably just dying to know whether hedgehogs have tails.
It turns out that these mammals do have tails, no matter what the variety of hedgehog, but not many people notice them. This is because the tail is only a couple centimeters in length, and it is also hidden very well by the many spikes that are found covering hedgehogs from head to toe.
With between 5,000 to 7,000 of these spikes on their bodies, it should come as no surprise that they would hide some of the hedgehog’s body parts.
Hedgehogs are very quiet animals, so if you are considering having one as a pet, you do not need to worry about it waking up a sleeping child.
If you decide to get a pet hedgehog, keep in mind that it can take a little while for it to warm up to you, like any new pet. It can require a lot of patience and slow, calm movements, but after some time, your hedgehog should open up to you.
As long as you give your hedgehog time, food, and a comfortable home, it will eventually become used to you and its new environment, and you will be able to interact with it more without scaring it into a ball.
Do not approach your pet with a loud voice or erratically, and when it does feel comfortable enough to unroll in your presence, let it sniff your hand with its cute little nose so it can get used to your scent.
Caring for Your Pet Hedgehog
If you decide that you want a pet hedgehog either before or after reading this article, you can find some information about caring for these creatures in this section. You will learn about what to feed your new pet, what kind of home they enjoy, and how to provide them with a means to exercise.
First, let’s take a look at the food you should be giving your new pet hedgehog.
Feeding Your Hedgehog
It is absolutely vital that you feed your hedgehog an appropriate diet so that it does not have any health issues and remains at an ideal weight.
You can give your pet hedgehog a variety of foods. Some options include crickets, very small dry kibble, good-quality wet food, and earthworms.
As far as providing your hedgehog with water goes, you can either use a bowl that your pet will not have trouble maneuvering around or a bottle that attaches to the side of its cage.
A bottle will stay out of your hedgehog’s way much better than a bowl, and you will not need to constantly clean bedding material out of it like you would a bowl, but you need to make sure that the flow does not get obstructed in any way.
Your Hedgehog’s Home
It is very important for you to provide your hedgehog with a comfortable spot to live so that it can thrive and be happy.
When picking out the cage for your pet, you should definitely avoid choosing one with a wire bottom. This is because your hedgehog can easily get its feet stuck in it, possibly injuring itself.
You can use a terrarium-style cage for your hedgehog or one that is designed for Guinea pigs. Make sure to put some soft bedding material in the cage so your hedgehog will be comfortable, such as wood shavings or shredded pieces of paper.
The cage should be at least four by two feet in size, and you should keep your hedgehog in an environment that is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You should provide them with a designated sleeping area, such as a little pouch they can nestle themselves into or a small house of some sort.
It is of the utmost importance that you only keep one hedgehog in a cage, as they are not happy about sharing their homes with others. It can even result in a death.
Along with giving your hedgehog a spacious home to help them get enough exercise in, you should put a big wheel in their cage so they can run on it.
A wheel designed for a chinchilla should work out well for a hedgehog.
As far as grooming your pet hedgehog is concerned, the main thing you should worry about is keeping their nails clipped.
They are pretty good at keeping themselves clean, so unless your hedgehog gets super dirty, you should not need to bathe it.
Make sure you keep its bedding fresh and free of urine and feces. You can actually pick out a spot in the cage that your hedgehog uses often to go to the bathroom and make a little indentation in the bedding to encourage it to use that area.
This can make cleaning up after your hedgehog uses the bathroom much easier, and it can help prevent you from going through loads of bedding material.
Along with that, this will help keep your hedgehog much cleaner so you never or hardly ever have to give your pet a bath.
Hedgehogs can sometimes have dental issues, so keep an eye on your pet’s teeth to make sure they remain in good condition.
It’s true that hedgehogs have tails, but there is a lot more information about these animals that is good to know. If you are planning on having one as a pet or already have one, it is even more vital that you have some knowledge about these animals.
You should be able to tell your friends all about hedgehogs now, and you should also be able to care for a pet hedgehog in the best way possible. You want to give any pet the happiest life you can.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.