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European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

Diputación de Málaga
Erizo baja ARL

European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

Reproduction Zeal Topping Hibernation
Animal Life > Mammals


It is an insectivore (a small, nocturnal animal feeding on insects) of large size (head-body length 30 to 40 cm), short tail (4 to 5 cm), plump body and short legs. It is characterized by having its back covered with spines, a pointed snout and an uncovered face. The ventral, face and legs coat is brown, whitish or yellowish. The head and the body are joined with hardly any neck. There is no visible difference between males and females.

Where does it live?

This species prefers areas with abundant plant cover and humidity. It is present in grasslands, riparian pastures, orchards, gardens, irrigated crops and wooded plains. It is absent beyond 1,000 meters above sea level in the Mediterranean.

How does it live?

It is a nocturnal animal. It leaves its burrow two hours after sunset and goes back to hide before dawn. It feeds on insects, slugs and earthworms, although it also consumes bird eggs, fruits and small reptiles (snakes). It is a good walker, able to move very fast if necessary. It has a great sense of smell. It uses hollows and tree roots to make nests, as well as holes between stones. Its main defence against predators is to curl up, becoming an inaccessible barbed ball.  At the end of autumn (when the ambient temperature drops below 10 ºC) it becomes dormant, making a barbed ball, in its burrow. It is in a latent state, with a very low metabolism (heartbeats go down from 180 to 20 per minute and body temperature drops to 5 ºC) until spring comes. It can wake up some days, go out and take a walk, then go back to hibernate again. In coastal areas, close to the sea, it can be active in winter, although much less than in summer. Its territory ranges from 10 to 30 hectares.

How does it reproduce?

Hedgehogs have two mating periods: spring and summer.  From 2 to 10 offspring are born in each birth. Normally, there is only one litter per period, rarely two. The offspring are born blind, naked and without barbs, but they start to develop it two days after birth. They are solitary and tolerant animals, although males can be territorial and aggressive with other hedgehogs. They reach sexual maturity at one year of age and their life expectancy is 7 years. Many die run over during their first year of life (they do not exceed the first hibernation).

Where can we see it in Málaga?

This species is present in the whole Málaga province. In the Great Path it can be observed practically on every stage, except in the high mountain.

Curious facts

Hedgehogs are very beneficial animals for humans. Its diet based on insects and slugs and its presence in crops make it an effective pest controller. The Greek poet Archilochus, following the wisdom of foxes, said that these animals could know many things, but hedgehogs with only one knowledge (but very important) were smarter. They could protect themselves from any predator forming a pick ball in case of  aggression by a predator.

Similar species

It is an unmistakable species. It can only be confused with the Moorish hedgehog, somewhat smaller in size and with a lighter coat tone. The Moorish hedgehog presents a facial band or black mask, it is present in more arid areas and below 400 meters above sea level.

Routes where it can be observed

More information