Hedgehogs are fascinating, fun pets that are gaining popularity in the United States. Their friendly and curious faces poke out from behind their defensive spines and endear them to anyone who meets them.
The name hedgehog is believed to originate around 1450 from the Middle English words hegge, meaning an animal that frequents hedgerows, and hogge, an animal with a piglike snout. The spines are made of keratin and, unlike the porcupine, they are not barbed, poisonous or able to be released from the animal’s body.
Like a porcupine, the main purpose of the spines is for defense. The spines not only protect the hedgehog while it walks, but also when the hedgehog rolls itself into a ball if antagonized. When balled up, the hedgehog’s tender parts (face, limbs, soft underbelly) tuck securely inside and nothing but sharp spines point outward.
**For the full article, pick up the 2009 issue of Critters USA or click here to buy the issue.**