Thursday, 6 February 2020
LIVING FOSSIL: HEDGEHOGS
There are seventeen species of hedgehog in five genera. They share distant ancestry with the family Soricidae (shrews) and the gymnures.
Hedgehogs are considered "Living Fossils" as they have changed very little over the past 15 million years. These small mammals are loners with their own kind but live in close proximity to our human population. They dwell in inhabited areas, farmland, deciduous forests and desert. You'll know them by their distinctive spiny look (which may remind you of very tasty chocolates from Purdy's in Canada) and their adorable piglike snorts and grunts as they make their way through the underbrush looking for tasty snacks.
Look for them in the evening in hedgerows and undergrowth as they hunt for frogs, toads, snails, bird eggs, grassroots, berries, insects, worms and snakes. They fatten themselves up in preparation for hibernation. They'll find a nice burrow or built a nest in leaves or compost heaps. In Europe, they generally hibernate by October or November and become active again in March to mid-April once temperatures reach over 15 degrees.