Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Insectivora
Family Erinaceidae
Genus Erinaceus
Species europaeus
Classification Linnaeus, 1758
Common name hedgehog
Size 15 - 30 centimeters. Tail: 4 -5 centimeters
Male weight 300 - 1100 grams

Geographic Range Europe, western Siberia, Middle East.
Physical Characteristics it has a short, rounded body; feet have five toes, three of which are the same length and provided with strong claws, while the other two are shorter and have smaller claws. Hind feet are longer than front ones, even if they are the same width. It has a mobile and pointy snout, round eyes and short, rounded ears almost completely covered with fur. Dorsal and lateral parts, face and legs are densely covered with spines which contain air filled spaces and which are separated by disks enabling the spine to maintain its structure. At the base of each spine below the skin surface there is a small bulb which roots the spine firmly. The base and the tip are white, the rest of the spine is black, brown, white banded. They grow from follicles in the skin, in the same way as hair does. Each spine is attached to a muscle so that spines can be raised or lowered. When they are erect, the spines crisscross over one another forming an almost impenetrable mass. The spines grow, fall and are continuously substituted. A spine lasts 18 months in average. The hairs covering the snout, feet and belly are rough and yellowish-dark brown. Upper incisors are spaced apart so that lower incisors can fit between them.
Behaviour it is a solitary animal except during the breeding season. It makes several vocalizations, such as snuffling and snorting, clacking its teeth. Young make birdlike whistles and they quack while they are in the nest. When it feels in danger it curls. It is active from dusk until early morning. At night it may travel up to 1-2 km; it is a good swimmer and climber. When it hibernates, metabolic rate is lowered, blood pumping is slowed down and breathing rate is lowered too, so that it may not breathe for several minutes. Body temperature lowers and heartbeats reduce to 20 per minute. The hedgehog survives thanks to the fat reserves accumulated before hibernation and it is important that it feeds well before winter otherwise it will not be able to survive.
Habitat moorlands, cultivated lands, sand dunes, parks, gardens.
Food habits worms, snails, centipedes, beetles, frogs, small reptiles, young birds, mice, acorns, berries.
Reproduction it reproduces from April to August, and after 31-49 days of pregnancy, from May to October, up to 9 young are born, which are weaned after 4-6 weeks. The hedgehog may have up to two litters, but only if the first one is born at the beginning of the breeding season. Hedgehogs are born spined, although the spines are completely hidden and initially white and soft. After 36 hours a second coat of darker spines grows and afterwards a third sets of spines grows and replace the first two. After 11 days the young can curl in order to defend themselves and after 14 days they open their eyes. By the age of one month they look a lot like their parents. The nest is built among bushes, under rocks or in other hollows. They have several nests during summer and winter and there they hibernate from October to April, even if not as rigidly and continuously as other mammals do. Winter nest is made up of grass and leaves which can resist to bad weather and last longer. The hedgehog brings leaves where it is going to build the nest, carrying them with its mouth, little by little. It builds up a heap adding new leaves to the centre, holding them still with some twigs. Once it has finished it hides inside and begins to turn round in order to flatten the leaves and form even 10 centimeters thick walls. The hedgehog in this way builds a new nest.
Status in the lagoon Fish farms: Draogojesolo, Ghebo Storto, Bosco Nordio; Cabvallino's fossil dunes, Ca' Savio's littoral, S. Nicolò's dunes, Cassa di Colmata "A" ("A" reclaimed area), Alberoni's dunes and littoral.

References Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology
The Hedghogz Home Page
The Mammal Society
Parchi e Riserve naturali in Emilia Romagna
Guida alla natura nella Laguna di Venezia - di Giampaolo Rallo - Franco Muzzio editore
Web References http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/
Source of the photo http://mitglied.lycos.de/ClemensMBrandstetteR/index-21.html
Pawprint images source http://www.regione.emilia-romagna.it/parchi/fauna/riccio.htm

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