As you well know, a hedgehog’s spikes are the most prominent feature that helps it survive in the wild. A hedgehog’s spikes are also called quills that stand upright when the hedgehog wants to protect itself and lay down flat when relaxed. But how many spikes does a hedgehog have on its back?
An adult hedgehog has around 3000 to 5000 spikes all over its back.
A hedgehog’s back is completely covered with quills. On the other hand, the belly is soft and has fur on it. However, hedgehogs do not always have quills. When hedgehogs are born, the quills are hidden under the skin and covered with a clear liquid not to harm the mother hedgehog.
After a few hours, the quills began to appear on the baby hedgehogs.
What are Hedgehog Spikes Called?
The sharp spikes you see on a hedgehog’s back are also called quills. The quills are modified hair made from keratin like human hair. Hedgehog quills are of different colours depending on the breed and age of hedgehogs. These quills are stiff and cover the whole of a hedgehog’s back, protecting it from predators.
A fun fact is that hedgehogs are not the only animal with spines. Other animals also have spikes, such as porcupines. You can use the term quills and spikes interchangeably; however, spikes is a more general term.
Do Hedgehogs Lose their Spikes?
A hedgehog will not keep its spikes forever and will shed them in different periods. When a hedgehog is born, it does not have spikes. The spikes are hidden under the skin and begin to show after a few hours of giving birth. The spikes which baby hedgehogs have are soft.
These baby hedgehogs will lose their spikes and replace them with adult ones.
The baby hedgehog’s spikes begin to fall when they turn four weeks. During this time, hedgehogs can be moody and irritated as losing spikes is a painful process. The spikes that baby hedgehogs get are replaced with stronger, adult spikes.
However, this is not the only time that a hedgehog will lose its quills. Like humans lose their hair, hedgehogs also lose their spines, which new ones replace. The process of losing quills to be replaced by newer ones is known as quilling.
While shedding quills is natural for hedgehogs, it can be worrisome if your hedgehog is shedding because of a skin problem. Often hedgehogs lose their quills because they are sick or have an underlying condition. Therefore, it is important to check if your hedgehog is shedding too much and if the quills are being replaced.
Do Hedgehog Quills Hurt?
Hedgehog quills have a bad reputation among people, and it is one of the reasons why some people are uncomfortable with keeping hedgehogs as pets. However, while hedgehog quills are sharp, they are not so dangerous as people turn them out to be.
How a hedgehog’s quills feel depends on its position. When hedgehogs are relaxed, the quills lay flat on its body and reach until the tail. Therefore, you should hold the hedgehog when it is in a relaxed position.
You can also pet the hedgehog; however, you must do so in the direction of the quills. The quills will not hurt but feel like a hairbrush.
On the other hand, a hedgehog that feels threatened will raise its quills and turn itself into a ball. As the hedgehogs turn into a ball, the quills spread out, causing them to appear sharper.
When your hedgehog is in a defensive position, you must not touch it; otherwise, the quills can hurt you. While the quills can hurt to touch, they will not pierce your skin.
Sometimes even a relaxed hedgehog can suddenly become defensive in your hands. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your hedgehog is comfortable around you and recognizes you. It takes time for hedgehogs to become accustomed to a new environment. Therefore, do not worry if your hedgehog does not warm up easily to you. A new hedgehog will take a few weeks before it gets comfortable around its owner.
How Do Hedgehogs Protect Themselves?
Quills play a huge role in keeping hedgehogs protected. Hedgehogs are usually prey animals that other bigger animals can pick on. Instead of attacking, hedgehogs choose to defend themselves. Hedgehogs do not have good eyesight, which makes them vulnerable and an easy target.
Therefore, hedgehogs are equipped with sharp quills.
When hedgehogs feel threatened or are in danger, they raise their quills and turn into spiked balls. If a predator comes close to the hedgehog, it will hurt itself because of the quills. Hence, the predators leave the hedgehog alone.
The quills serve their purpose for defence against predators and protecting hedgehogs from dangerous falls. Hedgehogs are clumsy animals, and when they fall, the quills provide balance, bending to protect the hedgehog.
In addition, a hedgehog’s quills will also help it stay afloat in a body of water. The quills are empty, which makes the hedgehog buoyant. Therefore, there are fewer chances of a hedgehog drowning unless it is on the water too long and gets tired.
Hedgehogs are small mammals that have spikes covering their entire backs. The spikes help the hedgehog defend itself against predators. An adult hedgehog will have around 3000 to 500 spikes. When hedgehogs are born, they do not have spikes as they are hidden under their skin.
However, the spikes begin to show after a few hours of being born.
Hedgehog spikes are also called quills. These quills are modified hair made from keratin, the same as human skin and hair. Like we lose hair, hedgehogs will also lose their quills. When hedgehogs are born, they have soft quills, which they lose to be replaced by adult quills.
Moreover, adult hedgehogs will also lose their quills. However, hedgehogs can also lose quills excessively if they are sick or have an underlying condition.