Hedgehogs are tiny mammals that were once considered to be solely wild and dangerous. However, recent years have shown that hedgehogs are being domesticated and make great pets.
However, since hedgehogs have been exotic for many years, there are still some questions and confusion that potential pet parents may have.
Hedgehogs have quills all over their back. The correct term to use for these quills is spines.
Other animals, such as porcupines, also have quills, but hedgehogs are entirely different from them. Hedgehogs can make their quills stand and control them with muscle if they feel threatened or in danger.
For example, by curling into a spiked ball, hedgehogs make themselves uncomfortable to touch and ward off predators.
Are Hedgehogs Born With Quills?
It would be difficult for the mother hedgehog if her babies would come out all spiky!
Hedgehogs are born with quills; however, they are just soft and flexible. So when a mother hedgehog gives birth, her babies are covered with a liquid, so the mother is not hurt. Within just one day, the baby hedgehog will have around 150 quills covering it.
Baby hedgehog quills are very different from an adult hedgehog. They are soft, while the adult quills are harder. In addition, baby hedgehogs have white quills, while an adult will have both white and black quills that can amount to up to 7000.
Can Hedgehog Quills Hurt You?
Hedgehogs look intimidating and scary because of their quills. However, these tiny mammals use their quills to scare predators in the wild and protect themselves if anyone gets too close.
People are often afraid of housing hedgehogs because they think their quills can hurt them. However, that is not true. Hedgehog quills are not barbed, and if you encounter one, it will not pierce your skin and get stuck to you.
Apart from not being barbed, contrary to popular belief, hedgehog quills do not contain any poison that can harm you.
Even though the quills will not hurt you much, you still cannot pet your hedgehog-like you would want your dog or cat. So you still need to be careful and see if the quills are flat before touching your hedgehog.
In the wild, hedgehogs use their quills to protect themselves from predators. By curling into a ball with spikes, the predator will hurt itself by attempting to touch the hedgehog. This way, the predator will leave the hedgehog alone.
Can Hedgehogs Shoot Quills?
There is a common belief that hedgehogs shoot their quills, but they cannot. Hedgehogs can only curl themselves into a ball when they stumble upon danger with their quills standing upright.
There is no shooting of quills involved, and only physical contact with a spiked hedgehog can cause any hurt or harm.
How Do Hedgehogs Protect Themselves?
In the wild, hedgehogs are constantly on the lookout for predators. There are many ways that a hedgehog protects itself and scares the predators away. Your pet hedgehog may also display these behaviours if it feels stressed or someone gets too close to it.
Hedgehog spines are the number one way that it uses to protect itself. The tiny mammal is covered with around 6000 spines that are controlled by muscles. Upon being threatened, the hedgehog will curl into a ball, protecting its soft belly and make its spines stand upright.
Unfortunately, the spines stand in a crisscross manner, which makes them more dangerous. A hedgehog protects itself even as it sleeps by curling in a ball and keeping its spines standing.
When you become a pet parent, you will notice that hedgehogs are very vocal about their needs. A hedgehog may huff and puff in the wild too. Moreover, when foraging through the forest in search of food, they tend to be quite noisy.
If a predator comes near a hedgehog, it will attempt to hiss at them to scare them off.
By making their quills stand upright, the hedgehog provides itself with a shield against predators. The hedgehog will now curl into a ball to protect its soft belly.
It now looks undesirable for dinner, and predators who attempt to touch the hedgehog will get hurt and walk away. Let us be real no one likes a prickly meal for dinner!
Do Hedgehogs Lose Quills?
Hedgehogs can lose their quills during their lifetime. The process of losing quills is called quilling. Losing quills is normal for hedgehogs as they mature into adulthood.
Your baby hedgehog will lose its quills to be replaced by new ones just as humans lose their teeth. The quilling process can be uncomfortable for a hedgehog, and you will find them to be moody and irritable.
Even when a hedgehog reaches adulthood, it will lose quills every six to eight months until the end of its life. If you find that your hedgehog is losing quills often, there can be an underlying issue. For example, your hedgehog might be sick or too stressed.
Excessive quilling is normal if your hedgehog is old, but if it is young, then there is something to worry about. Keep a check on your hedgehog and ensure that it is receiving a nutritious diet. Get the excessive quilling checked by the vet immediately.
All hedgehogs have quills that are better known as spines. The quills are essential for survival, and the hedgehog uses them to protect itself and scare off predators. Hedgehog quills do not hurt as they are not barbed and would therefore not pierce through your skin.
However, the quills make hedgehogs look intimidating and make them uncomfortable to touch. Apart from curling into a ball, hedgehogs can hiss at predators to scare them away.
Hedgehogs are born with quills, but they have a soft texture as compared to adult quills. The quills are white and later change into black and white as they mature. Hedgehogs lose their quills as they mature, and this process is called quilling.
Quilling can be uncomfortable for hedgehogs, making them irritable. If your hedgehog loses its quills excessively for reasons other than age, it is imperative to get a vet involved.