Fun Facts about Hedgehogs
Crazy About Quills
We have been extremely fortunate and blessed to be able to raise hedgehogs, each and every one of them is such a gift! Breeding for years, I have only been able to watch (in person) the miracle of a hedgehog giving birth once! Usually the expectant mom's will make a nest out of the various materials provided for them in their cage (such as fleece strips, shredded paper, and strips of old tshirts), snuggle into their nest and have babies when I am not around. When hedgehogs are born they are tiny, bald little alien looking creatures. After a few hours their quills start to slowly emerge through their skin. Because hedgehog mothers are easily stressed, we do not touch or hold the babies until they are 2 weeks old (sometimes a little older if a particular mother is overly stressed).
Hedgehogs are fascinating animals but their quills are what really make them so unique! According to Hedgehog Central, a hedgehog is covered by approximately 7000 quills, which makes them pretty spiky. These quills cover a hedgehogs body to protect them from enemies. If they feel threatened they will curl themselves up in a ball to protect their soft underbelly. It is a myth that once curled in a ball they can roll like Sonic (the blue cartoon hedgehog).
Hedgehogs are protected by their quills and can raise or lower them depending on if they feel stressed or threatened. They can even raise up a specific area of their quills in the direction of whatever is making them feel stressed! They are unlike porcupines in the fact that they can NOT release or shoot their quills.
Just a few fun facts about quills:
With all this mention about quills you may be wondering if it hurts to handle a hedgehog. If the hedgehog is relaxed, their quills will lay flat back and will not hurt. However if they become startled, they will roll themselves up in a ball and their quills will stand straight up. Does it hurt? It can feel uncomfortable and strange, but rarely will they poke you hard enough to draw blood. It does take some getting used to, and if you have sensitive hands I would recommend holding them on top of a blanket or snuggle bag.