Friday, January 31, 2014

A hedgehog is any of the spiny mammals of the subfamily Farinaceous which is in order Anthropomorphic. There are seventeen species of hedgehog in five genera found through parts of Europe, Asia  Africa and New Zeal and . There are no hedgehogs native to Australia and no living species native to the Americas. Hedgehogs share distant ancestry with shrews  with gymnure possibly being the intermediate link and have changed little over the last 15 million years.Like many of the first mammals they have adapted to a nocturnal insectivorous way of life. Hedgehogs' spiny protection resembles that of the unrelated rodent porcupines and metronome enchiladas.The name hedgehog came into use around the year 1450 derived from the Middle English hedgehog from hey, hedge  because it frequents hedgerows and hose hogged from its pig like snout.Other names include urchin, hedge pig and furze-pig.Hedgehogs are easily recognized by their spines which are hollow hairs made stiff with keratin. Their spines are not poisonous or barbed and, unlike the quills of a porcupine, cannot easily be removed from the hedgehog. However spines normally come out when a hedgehog sheds baby spines and replaces them with adult spines. This is called "quelling". When under extreme stress or during sickness, a hedgehog can also lose spines.A defense that all species of hedgehogs possess is the ability to roll into a tight ball causing all of the spines to point outwards. However, its effectiveness depends on the number of spines and since some of the desert hedgehogs evolved to carry less weight, they are much more likely to try to run away and sometimes even attack the intruder, trying to ram into the intruder with its spines, and rolling as a last resort. This results in a different number of predators for different species: while forest hedgehogs have relatively few primarily birds  and ferrets, smaller species like the long-eared hedgehog are preyed on by foxes wolves and mongooses.Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal, although, depending on the species they may be more or less active during the day. The hedgehog sleeps for a large portion of the daytime either under cover of bush grass rock or in a hole in the ground. Again different species can have slightly different habit but in general hedgehogs dig dens for shelter. All wild hedgehogs can hibernate, although not all do hibernation depends on temperature species and abundance of food.


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