I came across a word I’d never heard before and probably will not ever again. When that happens I will not rest until I uncover the meaning of the word. The sentence read, ” On my erinaceous days, I just want to curl up into a ball with my spines out. “
In this case the word was “erinaceous” meaning “like a hedgehog”. Like a hedgehog who curls up into a ball to sleep at night. I realized I knew very little about hedgehogs and wondered where they lived. The desire to learn more about the hedgehogs led me to several interesting sites and I found these fascinating facts about our spiny little friends, courtesy of National Geographic and the African Wildlife Foundation:
Hedgehogs are often born in litters of seven or more and are covered with spiny that are soft and short. Soon after birth, their spines harden and are used in the defense mechanism to ward off predators.
Their diets consist of small mice, lizards, frogs and insects although they have been known to devour a snake or two. They can swim and even climb trees and if they fall, which happens often, they will simply bounce off their spines that give them an added layer of protection.
They typically live in Europe, Asia, and Africa although recently were introduced to New Zealand. The hedgehog hibernates in the winter and it’s heart rate slows to a mere 20 beats per minute.
According to the African Wildlife Foundation, hedgehogs are ” Small enough to fit in your hands but too prickly to hold.” Although they only appear to mate for the purpose of breeding, the courtship ritual entails the male circling the female for hours before the actual act of mating occurs. Once finished, they part ways.
Recently, there have been a host of websites that offer the hedgehog as a pet. According to Petfinder.com, ” Hedgehogs are illegal to own as pets in the following locations: Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, New York City boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island), Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. You can visit the Petfinder site to learn more about the hedgehog welfare society and rescue here.
If you ask me, some animals or exotic creatures are better left in their natural habitat.