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European hedgehog

Erinaceus europaeus

European hedgehog
Adult hedgehogs have coarse grey and brown hair on their face, legs and stomach with thousands of brown, grey and white spines on the rest of their body, each spin is 2 cms long.

Hibernation takes place between the colder months of December to March when food supplies are scarce. Unknown to many, hedgehogs are great swimmers and good climbers.

The European hedgehog is protected by law, making it illegal to cause unnecessary suffering, kill or capture them.

Hedgehogs were originally only found in deciduous woodlands but can now be spotted in hedgerows, meadows and woodlands.

Diet – Omnivore

Hedgehogs are omnivores and can eat up to 70 grams of food a night. A large part of their balanced diet consists of invertebrates (worms, snails and insects). Other components include fallen fruit and berries, eggs and carrion.


An average adult European hedgehog is 25cms long with a 3cms tail. They can weigh between 600-900 grams.


The European hedgehog is distributed across western Europe to southern Scandinavia and south to the Mediterranean.

Conservation status:

The IUCN does not consider the European hedgehog to be threatened yet.


Road kill, poisoning from gardens and farms, drowning, fall into cattle grids, agriculture, habitat loss due to human expansion as well as natural predators including foxes, badgers and birds of prey.

Current population:

There are less than one million European hedgehogs in the wild on the British Isles. A decline of 30% in the hedgehog population has occurred in the last ten years.

Zoo population:

It is unknown how many European hedgehogs are kept in zoos worldwide.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature