Mammals

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Saturday, 20 July 2019

European hedgehog

The European hedgehog, also known as the West European hedgehog or common hedgehog, is a hedgehog species found in Europe, from Iberia and Italy northwards into Scandinavia.It is a generally common and widely distributed species that can survive across a wide range of habitat types. It is a well-known species, and a favorite in European gardens, both for its endearing appearance and its preference for eating a range of garden pests. While populations are currently stable across much of its range, it is thought to be declining severely in Great Britain.Erinaceus europaeus has a generalised body structure with unspecialised limb girdles.[6] The animal appears brownish with most of its body covered by up to 6,000 brown and white spines.Length of head and body is ~160 mm (6.3 in) at weaning, increasing to 260 mm (10 in) or more in large adults. This species has an extremely short tail as an almost vestigial feature, typically 20 to 30 mm (0.79 to 1.18 in).Weight increases from around 120 g (4.2 oz) at weaning to > 1,100 g (2.4 lb) in adulthood. The maximum recorded weight is 2000 g (4.4 lb), though few wild specimens exceed 1,600 g (3.5 lb) even in autumn. Adult summer weight is typically somewhat less than in autumn, with an average of around 800 g (1.8 lb) and adult weights commonly as low as 500 g (1.1 lb). Males tend to be slightly larger than females, but sex differences in body weight are overshadowed by enormous seasonal variation.
This species is largely nocturnal. It has a hesitant gait, frequently stopping to smell the air. Unlike the smaller, warmer-climate species, the European hedgehog may hibernate in the winter. However, most wake at least once to move their nests. They are solitary in nature with mature males behaving aggressively towards each other. Occasionally a male and female may share a hibernating spot. The European hedgehog is omnivorous, feeding mainly on invertebrates. Its diet includes slugs, earthworms, beetles, caterpillars and other insects. The preferred arthropods are the millipedes Glomeris marginata and Tachypodoiulus niger as well as the ground beetle Carabus nemoralis. Some fruits and mushrooms may supplement their diet.
The breeding season commences after hibernation. Pregnancies peak between May and July, though they have been recorded as late as September. Gestation is 31 to 35 days. The female alone raises the litter which typically numbers between four and six, though can range from two to ten. Studies have indicated that litter size may increase in more northern climes. The young are born blind with a covering of small spines. By the time they are 36 hours old, the second, outer coat of spines begins to sprout. By 11 days they can roll into a ball. Weaning occurs at four to six weeks of age.
 

(latin: Erinaceus europaeus)

Saturday, 20 July 2019