HedgeHog, Snake eaters. How they help the environment.

Hedgehog
It is not a porcupine, but a similar small animal called a hedgehog. Hedge originally refers to bushes and Hog to wild boar. Since this animal’s voice and nostrils are similar to those of a pig and it is mostly seen living and hunting in the bushes, hence the name Hedgehog.

Distribution:
This animal is found in Africa, Asia and New Zealand. It is not found in Australia, North and South America but is exported as a pet to many countries. Most of its species are a few inches large, easy to handle, and weigh between 500 grams and 1.5 kilograms.

Many species are found in Pakistan as well. This animal is found everywhere in rocks, deserts, grasslands, forests, and home gardens, some 17 species have been discovered.
They are often mistaken for porcupines due to their spiky body, but there is a difference between the two. There are many other animals like the porcupine that have thorns on their body. These animals include the porcupine, Echidna, and Monotremes

a. Echidna
b. Porcupine
c. Hedgehog

Behavior:
Hedgehogs are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and vegetables; they eat all kinds of insects, mice, frogs, lizards, bird eggs and especially snakes. Against snakes, there is a protein in their body that protects them from snake venom. Apart from this, due to the thorns on their body, the snake is not even able to counterattack, but it becomes a victim.
They also eat different fruits, vegetables, leaves, etc. and for this purpose they often reach the gardens, but mostly feed on the insects.

Are they dangerous?
They do not cause serious harm to humans. They are shy and stay away from humans. If they come into contact, they will bite you lightly like someone pinching an ant. If they are very angry, they may even leave a slight teeth mark.
Pakistan also has many species that can be kept as pets.

A pet Hedgehog

The spines on their body are different from porcupine spines.
While its thorns are made up of Keratin_a dry substance. It is the same keratin that makes up our fingernails, the scales of fish, and the beaks of many birds. The hedgehog’s quills are soft and fixed and do not come off its body under normal conditions. According to an estimate, there are 5000 to 7000 quills or spines on its body.

Quills of Hedgehog

It is a nocturnal animal since snakes are mostly nocturnal, that is, they come out at night. But many species of owls are nocturnal, so they would also fall into the hands of owls.
Like the Honey Badger, the Hedgehog is a solitary animal and only spends time with the female during mating season. The female gives birth to 3 to 6 young in 35 to 58 days, which are released after 4 to 6 weeks. As soon as the young are born, she separates the male. Because the male starts eating his children when he is hungry.

A female hedgehog with its babies

Anointing:
Hedgehogs do a special job called Anointing. This special task is that as soon as they find a new place to live, they lick the surrounding things and continue to lick their body from all sides for a long time. Experts wonder why they do this. According to some, this process is to equip the body with a bad smell so that other animals do not invade the new place, while according to others, it is done to attract the opposite sex for mating.

Self-anointing of hedgehog

Hibernation:
Hedgehogs hibernate very well. Hibernation is the process in which an animal sleeps for an extended period. Usually, this process is done to spend the winter season. Hedgehogs sleep most of the day anyway, but as soon as winter sets in. They inflate themselves by rolling themselves into a ball in dry leaves on the ground and sticking out their spines.

During hibernation, their temperature is very low and their heart rate becomes very slow. If you touch it at this time, it will feel very cold. However, species that live in evergreen hot deserts do not hibernate. If these pets are made at home, they go into hibernation when it is too cold, so they should be kept in a room where the temperature does not drop.

A hibernating hedgehog

How do they defend themselves?
Their defence system is very strong. In times of danger, they would roll the body into a ball and pull out their spines. Now whatever you do, this ball is not going to open. You should sit there and maybe after a couple of hours this ball will open. But they sleep very well and can also perform another process called Estivation. Often seeing them as balls, the animals would leave them and move on.

A rolling hedgehog

Although nature has provided them with protective measures, they are often preyed upon by eagles, owls, and badgers (not the Honey Badger).
Their average age has been recorded as seven years….

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