Ordinary hedgehog or European hedgehog is a mammal of the genus Eurasian hedgehogs of the family of ezhovyh. It is widely distributed in Europe, Asia Minor, Western Siberia, northwest Kazakhstan, the Amur Region, northern and northeastern China. The Latin name of the ordinary hedgehog - Erinaceus - comes from the word ericius, which in translation means "prickly barrier".
Ordinary hedgehog is a small animal. The length of his body is 20-30 cm, the tail is about 3 cm, body weight is 700-800. The ears are relatively small (usually less than 3,5 cm). The muzzle is elongated. The nose of the animal is sharp and constantly moist. In ordinary hedgehogs inhabiting Cyprus, the ears are larger. On the upper jaw of 20 hedgehogs small sharp teeth, and on the bottom - 16. The upper incisors are widely spaced, leaving a place for biting the lower incisors. The head is relatively large, wedge-shaped, with a slightly dilated facial section. On the paws of 5 fingers with sharp claws. Hind legs longer than the forelimbs. The needles of an ordinary hedgehog are short, not more than 3 cm. On the head, the needles are divided into 2 parts by "parting". The surface of the needles is smooth, their coloring is composed of alternating brownish and light belts. On the back, sides and head of the needle reach a length of 2 cm. Inside they are hollow, filled with air. Needles grow at the same speed as hair. Between the needles are thin, long, very rare hair. The head and belly are covered with coarse and usually dark-colored hair. In adult urchins usually 5-6 thousand needles, in younger individuals about 3 thousand.
On the muzzle, legs and abdomen of ordinary hedgehogs, the color varies from yellowish-white to dark brown. Needles are brownish in color, with dark transverse bands. The chest and throat of the hedgehog is of a monochromatic color, without any white spots. In hedgehogs living in Spain, pale color.Distribution
The habitat of the common hedgehog includes Western and Central Europe, the British Isles, the south of Scandinavia, the northwest of the European part of Russia, Western Siberia, Kazakhstan. Also an ordinary hedgehog is introduced to New Zealand.
The common hedgehog inhabits a wide variety of habitats, avoiding extensive swamps and continuous coniferous massifs. Prefers the edges, copses, small glades, floodplains of rivers. He can live with a person. In Europe, an ordinary hedgehog can be found in open forests, grassy plains, shrubs, sandy terrain and even in parks.
Ordinary hedgehog is an animal that is active at night. He does not like to leave his house for a long time. The hedgehog day is spent in a nest or other shelter. Nests are built in bushes, pits, caves, abandoned rodent burrows or in the roots of trees. Usually the nest occupies 15-20 in diameter, there is a litter of dry grass or leaves, moss. With the help of long middle fingers, hedgehogs take care of their thorns. The animals lick their breasts with tongue. Males are aggressive towards each other, jealously guarding their plots. The area of such sites is in the males 7-39 ha, and in females - 6-10 ha. Molting in ordinary hedgehogs occurs slowly, usually in spring or autumn. On average, for a year only one needle changes from three. Each needle grows 12-18 months. In nature, these animals live 3-5 years, in captivity can live to 8-10 years. Ordinary hedgehogs are quite fast animals for their size. They are able to run at speeds up to 3 m / s, are good at swimming and jumping. When walking and running, the hedgehogs step on the ground with the entire foot. Like many nocturnal animals, the hedgehog is poorly developed eyesight, but they have a sharp sense of smell and hearing. In the summer, the heart rate is 180 cuts per minute, during winter hibernation the frequency decreases to 20-60 beats per minute, while the hedgehogs make only one breath per minute. With the onset of frost, European hedgehogs tightly close the entrance to the burrow and fall into hibernation. Usually this hibernation lasts from October to April. During hibernation, the body temperature of the hedgehog falls to 1,8 ° C. Over the summer, he needs to store as much fat as possible, because if an ordinary hedgehog gets into a hibernation without a sufficient supply of fat (less than 500 g), then in winter it risks starving to death. After hibernation does not leave the socket until the air temperature rises to 15 ° C. Ordinary hedgehogs lead a solitary life, but live nearby. Adult mature individuals try not to approach too close to each other.
Ordinary hedgehog is an omnivore. The basis of its nutrition are adult insects, caterpillars, slugs, sometimes earthworms. In natural conditions, rarely attacks on vertebrates, most often the victims of hedgehogs become numb reptiles and amphibians. From plants can eat berries and fruits. Research on the nutrition of an ordinary hedgehog shows that sometimes in captivity, he can eat an adder. In 1811, PS Pallas experimentally established that hedgehogs, without harm to themselves, ate suds, containing highly toxic poison for other animals. On the hedgehogs, such poisons as arsenic, sulphate, opium and even hydrocyanic acid are also weak. Mice, which are sometimes referred not so much to real mice as to less nimble voles, in nature urchins are mined quite rarely and in small quantities. Among the insects eaten by the hedgehog, some harmful ones were noted (for example, May crunches, hairy ground beetles, monk caterpillars, unpaired silkworms). Usually the hedgehogs are eaten by eggs or chicks of any small birds nesting on the ground.
After winter hibernation, hedgehogs begin to marry. There are often fights between males due to females. Males bite each other by the legs, snout, jostle, use their needles in battle. During the fight, the hedgehogs snort loudly and snort. After the battle, the winner spins around the female for hours. During mating, the male is behind the female. The female's vagina is at the very end of the body, and the penis is in the male in the middle of the abdomen, because of this it does not need to fully climb the female. Before pairing, the female carefully smoothens the spines and bends the back down. After pairing the hedgehogs diverge. As a refuge, the hedgehog either digs its own hole, or uses abandoned burrows of rodents. In the hole is a litter of dry grass and leaves. As a rule, for a year the female brings only one brood. Pregnancy lasts 49 days. In litter is usually 3-8 (most often 4) cubs. The hedgehog is born naked, blind, with bright pink skin, the mass of their body is only 12 grams. A few hours after birth, white and dark soft needles appear at the hedgehog. Completely the needle cover is formed to 15 days of life. Lactation lasts about 1 months. After its termination the hedgehog starts to live independently. Sexually mature by 10-12 months.