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European Hedgehog
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Erinaceus europeaus

The European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europeaus, is a mammal of the order Insectivora, about 20cm in length. Its back is covered in spines, and when threatened it rolls itself up in a ball. It thus has few natural predators, primarily birds (especially owls) and humans (its defense strategy is ill-adapted to road vehicles).

It is common in Europe, and often can be found in gardens, where hedgehogs are considered a useful form of biological pest control. Its diet consists of snails, worms, and insects, but many people put food out for hedgehogs.

Cow's milk is harmful to them since hedgehog's milk has a different fat content. Dog or cat food is OK for this insect and meat-eating species. However, a food higher in protein, specifically made for an insectivore, is far better.

This species has become a serious pest on some Scottish islands, where introduced hedgehogs eat the eggs of scarce birds such as terns.

Its gestation period is 58 days. Hedgehogs generally live 4-7 years in the wild, though longer is known: up to 16.

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The Domesticated Hedgehog is a distant relative of the European Hedgehog. It is a cross-breed between the White-Bellied or Four-Toed Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) and the Algerian Hedgehog (A. algirus). It is smaller than the European Hedgehog, and thus is sometimes called African Pigmy Hedgehog.

Domesticated Hedgehogs may be kept as pets, whereas it is unwise to attempt to keep any other breed of hedgehog as a pet. They prefer a warmer climate (above 72 degrees Fahrenheit) and do not hibernate. Attempts to hibernate are commonly fatal.

Besides having quills and the ability to roll up into a tight ball, one of the oddest behaviors of the hedgehog is self-anointing. A hedgehog will lick a new scent, form it into froth, and then coat its quills with the froth. This is been mistaken for rabies many times. It is believed to be either a camoflauge technique or a way to give potency to their quills (which have absolutely no poison in them).

It is illegal to own a hedgehog as a pet in many areas. Check with animal control before considering having a hedgehog as a pet.

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An anti-submarine weapon developed during World War II, the hedgehog was deployed on most destroyers to supplement the depth charge. Many small bombs were launched from spiked fittings, hence the name. The bombs exploded on contact and achieved a higher sinking rate against submarines than depth charges did.