- any small nocturnal insect-eating mammal of the genus Erinaceus, esp. E. europaeus, having a piglike snout and a coat of spines, and rolling itself up for defence.
- a porcupine or other animal similarly covered with spines.
The collective noun for a group of hedgehogs is a prickle of hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs belong to the family Erinaceidae. Eurasian hedgehogs are classified in the genus Erinaceus, African hedgehogs in the genus Atelerix, long-eared desert hedgehogs in the genus Hemiechinus, and desert hedgehogs in the genus Paraechinus. Furred hedgehogs constitute the genera Podogymnura, Echinosorex, and Hylomys. The moon rat is classified as Echinosorex gymnurus.(Ref: http://www.funkandwagnalls.com/)
Hedgehogs and the Law
Hedgehogs, among Britain's other wild mammals, are protected against cruelty by law. Under the wild Mammals (Protection) Bill 1996 it is an offence to "mutilate, kick, beat, nail or otherwise impale, stab, burn, stone, crush, drown, drag or asphyxiate" any wild mammal.
Deliberate killing, maiming and trade in wild hedgehogs is not a great problem in the UK, however gamekeepers amongst a group of people who consider hedgehogs to be a menace still kill them. In many countries, hedgehogs have had a price on their heads at different times and so have been murdered in large numbers. Closer to home, hedgehogs have been known to become a source of sport or 'fun'. When a hedgehog becomes a ball it seems that some merciless children cannot resist kicking it. Unfortunately this kind of behaviour can be excused by loopholes in the law that say technically the hedgehog was "free to walk away".
Equally unjustifiable is the trade of hedgehogs as pets. Although some hedgehogs are bred in captivity (such as in the USA), more often they are taken from the wild, for example in Egypt. The USA cannot be complacent about its hedgehog trade however, because hedgehogs were imported into the country for scientific purposes only - yet they found their way on to the pet market.
It is my opinion that hedgehogs of all varieties should be out in the wild. They cover distances of several miles each night looking for food, and owners may provide a pen of just a few meters length to 'exercise' their pets. From my perspective I cannot see why a hedgehog would make a good pet. Firstly they are nocturnal, and secondly they are terrified of humans. So trying to integrate one into a family would totally disrupt it's body clock and then stress it so much that it will live an unpleasant and shortened life. All I ask is that before you go and buy a hedgehog (which is illegal in countries such as the UK) that you think twice about what you are doing to the poor creature. If there is no demand for them as pets, they will not be bred and sold.
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Article By : hedghogz.co.uk