There are few animals more adorable than hedgehogs. These little creatures are covered in soft fur, have big eyes, and are generally just a joy to be around. But they also have something else that sets them apart from other animals: spikes. So, why do hedgehogs have spikes? Let’s take a closer look.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that spend the vast majority of their time alone. In the wild, they typically live in grassy areas or forests and build nests out of leaves and twigs. Hedgehogs use their spikes for self-defense; when threatened by predators, they will curl up into a tight ball, using their spikes to deter would-be attackers.
Hedgehogs’ spikes are modified hairs that contain keratin—the same protein that makes up human fingernails and hair.
Each quill is hollow and connected to a muscle at the base of the spine, which allows the hedgehog to raise or lower its quills as needed.
When a hedgehog feels threatened, the muscles contract, and the quills stand up straight; when it feels safe, the muscles relax and the quills lie flat against the body.
Interestingly, not all hedgehogs have spikes. The African pygmy hedgehog is the only species that lacks them entirely; instead, these hedgehogs have short, stiff hairs covering their backs. African pygmy hedgehogs are popular pets in many parts of the world, especially in Europe and North America.
Hedgehogs are spiky little creatures that are native to Europe, Africa, and Asia. These animals use their spikes for self-defense and protection from predators.
African pygmy hedgehogs are the only species of hedgehog that does not have spikes; instead, they have short, stiff hairs on their backs.
Hedgehogs make popular pets in many parts of the world due to their gentle nature and small size.