What's in a name
The latin name for the Euopean hedgehog is Erinanceus Europaecus however they have a variety of regional names and these included: hedgepig, urchin, furzepig and graineog.
They are nocturnal so it is unusual to see them out during the day, although over the summer months they are forced to come out when it may still be light as the days are that much longer.
Hogs sleep up to three months of the year, and to find out what they do for the rest of the year click here.
Hogs are covered in around 5,000 to 7,000 spines, which are each between 2cm to 3cm long. Spines are modified hairs and each one is has a brownish tip near the tip. They are lost through out the year just as we loose out hear year round. The spines only cover the top half of a hog the underneath is covered in a course thick hair, which keep them dry and warm.
An adult hog can weigh anything between 500 grams to 2 kilograms. Babies normally weigh between 120 grams to 150 grams when weaned and must reach between 500 grams to 600 grams by autumn to survive hibernation.
They are quite good swimmers and have been known to swim across quite wide rivers and are quite good climbers.
Hogs love to fight between each other but it tends to be all mouth with very little physical contact.
They come in a variety of colours which include black, brown, grey, cream and white.
Although hogs are not territorial they do have a home range and will travel the same gardens and sometimes route each night. An average home range is between 10 to 50 hectares. It is known males tend to have a larger home range so they have the chance to meet more females and therefore fathering more offspring. On average a hedgheog can travel between 2 to 3 kilometres (one to two miles) per night looking for food.
Hedgehogs can run quite fast around 2 metres or 6 mph in old money and the first time someone sees their legs they are surprised at just how long they are.
And finally hogs seem to have very little fear of falling so tend to get themselves stuck in uncovered drains, steep sided holes and ponds or swimming pools.
The hedgehog year
During hibernation a hogs heat beat slows to about 20 beats per minutes and breathing is also slowed right down. Hibernation normally starts around October but this does depend on the weather, a temperature of around 4°c is ideal for hibernation. It can take up to half an hour for a hog to wake from this very deep sleep, so can be very vulnerable during times of flood as they will not be able to wake up quick enough. Hogs normally wake up around April time, although if spring comes early they will emerge when the temperature starts to pick up. The nests that make during the winter months are known as hibernacula.
This behaviour is quite funny when you see it for the first time if not a little disconcerting. No-one really knows why they do it but it seems to be connected with new and exciting smells. Self-anointing is when a hog will contort itself into almost impossible positions and lick himself or herself covering themselves in a froth. Disgusting when you have to pick them up afterwards!
Babies (known as hoglets)
Gestation is around 30 days and babies are born without spines but do have around 100 spine buds, which emerge within hours of birth. By the time they leave the nest they have around 300 spines, which are just a good, a defence as an adults spines.
They are born with their eyes closed (these open when they are around 10 days old) and they unable to curl up making them very vulnerable for the first few weeks of life.
A litter size can be a single hoglet (normally to a first time mum) to up to five little hogs. Sometimes a mum will give birth to more but some will die, as mum will not be able to feed this many babies successfully.
If a mum manages to raise her little before winter sets in she may try and have another litter. This is where autumn hogs have problems because they do not have the whole summer as their brothers and sisters did to get to the hibernation weight.
It is estimated that only half of all babies that leave mum will survive the winter however their survival rate increases after this time. Many are believed to live between 3 to 4 years with some making it to 7. It has been recorded that hog can live to 10 years of age but these are ones that given a helping hand i.e. they live in a walled garden and whenever unwell given treatment.
They can eat up to 40 slugs per night! Mmmm yum! However slugs and snails are not the only food they will eat, other items on the menu include worms, beetles, spiders, earwigs, caterpillars and anything else that tends to crawl.
When searching for food a hog will travel anywhere between half a kilometre to one kilometre (one and a half to three miles) per night.
Yes hogs do have fleas and ticks, but they are host specific. That is to say they only like hogs! Only remove fleas and ticks if there are lots of them and only use flea or tick spray on large hogs. DO NOT use any treatment on very small or young hogs. On large hogs use a powder or spray such as Johnsons Rid-Mite ensuring the hog does not breath in whilst you are treating. To remove ticks if necessary simply cover the tick in cooking oil and allowing to drop off. Only remove using tweezers or a tick-remover if experienced in doing so as leaving in the mouth parts can cause more problems than leaving in place.
Apart from the car and the lawn mower the only real danger a hog faces is badgers. Although hogs have come in with bite marks from both dogs and foxes. However hogs have been brought in covered in blood that have been caught by dogs and found not to have a scratch on them. The blood infact coming from the hapless dog!