Hedgehogs are largely confused or mistaken for other animals as there is often not enough information circulating about them. These tiny mammals have pointed noses and small ears that make them resemble many animals, which leads to the question, what are hedgehogs related to?
Hedgehogs are closely related to moonrats, shrews, and moles.
Most people compare hedgehogs with porcupines thinking they are related. Some believe that hedgehogs grow to become porcupines.
However, both these mammals belong to different categories and only share one similar characteristic: their quills. Hedgehogs do not grow to become porcupines; these two are entirely different animals.
What Did Hedgehogs Evolve From?
Hedgehogs evolved from shrews around 15 million years ago. The common link between hedgehogs and shrews is gymnures.
Is a Hedgehog a Rodent?
With their pointed noses and small features, hedgehogs are often confused with rodents. However, a hedgehog is not a rodent. Hedgehogs and rodents belong to different families.
Hedgehogs belong to the family of Erinaceidae, which means they are not related to porcupines, nor are rodents. Porcupines, on the other hand, belong to the family of rodents called Rodentia.
There are significant differences between hedgehogs and rodents, which distinguish them from each other.
The teeth structure of rodents is different from hedgehogs. Rodents have two incisor teeth that do not stop growing. Hedgehogs have teeth that are similar to humans. Hedgehogs have molars, premolars, canines, and incisors.
The diets of rodents and hedgehogs are also different. Rodents are completely herbivorous and follow a plant-based diet. On the other hand, hedgehogs eat anything and everything. Hedgehogs consume insects, and wild hedgehogs even eat small rodents.
The cecum that rodents have allows them to digest and break down plants. Hedgehogs do not need a cecum as they eat insects. Hence, hedgehogs cannot survive on a plant-based diet as they will not be able to digest.
What Type of Animal is a Hedgehog?
Hedgehogs are mammals that belong to the family of Erinaceidae. These animals are compared with many such as porcupines and rodents. However, there are stark differences between a hedgehog and rodents.
The only common characteristic between a hedgehog and a porcupine is its quills that are modified hair.
Contrary to popular belief, hedgehogs are not marsupials. Marsupials are animals that give birth to live young, but they are underdeveloped. The underdeveloped babies are kept in pouches until they mature.
Hedgehogs are placental animals and give birth to fully developed mini hedgehogs.
The main component of a hedgehog’s diet is insects. Hence, hedgehogs are insectivorous. Wild hedgehogs feed on beetles, worms, centipedes, grasshoppers. Hedgehogs can eat just about anything and have been known to eat roadkill as well as small rodents.
They also consume bird eggs. A hedgehog’s diet is not limited to insects and roadkill. These tiny creatures also enjoy munching on fruits and plants too.
Do not worry about your pet hedgehog eating wild insects. A domesticated hedgehog will have a different diet from a wild one. You can give your pet hedgehog cat food, chicken, fruits, and vegetables.
Since hedgehogs eat just about anything, feeding them is not a problem.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals and remain active during the nighttime. Most of the time, you will hear your hedgehog running the wheel or exploring. In the wild, hedgehogs forage through the night and cover a lot of ground.
Therefore, a domesticated hedgehog requires a lot of space to run; otherwise, it may get depressed.
These tiny mammals are solitary by nature and prefer to be alone. Hedgehogs should be kept alone in a cage. It is recommended not to keep two hedgehogs together. If you have other pets, take time introducing your hedgehog to them as it gets stressed and nervous easily.
A lot of patience is required to help settle your hedgehog and make it comfortable around you and your home.
What Are The Ancestors of Hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs have ancestors that existed millions of years ago. We know this through scientists that have discovered and studied fossils. These fossils were then linked to the hedgehogs of today.
The oldest ancestor of hedgehogs is called Litolestes. They existed approximately 53 million years ago during the Paleocene period. Lepisanolestes are also ancestors that belonged to the same period. These hedgehogs mostly fed on insects.
Another ancestor is Onchocherus which belongs to the family of hedgehogs. This ancestor shares a similar characteristic with hedgehogs which are its molars. Their upper molars, however, are larger. These roamed the earth 55.8 million years ago in Western Canada.
Ancestors with small teeth set were Cedrpherus with two further species: Cedrocherus ryani and Cedrocherus aceratus.
There was a species of hedgehogs in Italy around 5 to 11 million years ago. These were bigger and had spines on their whole body. Their distinctive feature was the long tail.
Hedgehogs are mammals that are often confused with porcupines and rodents. These tiny mammals give birth to live young and should not be mistaken for marsupials that carry their underdeveloped babies in pouches.
Hedgehogs belong to the family of Erinaceidae alongside shrews and moles. Moonrats, moles, and shrews are close relatives of hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are not rodents. Porcupines are rodents. There are many differences between hedgehogs and rodents, such as their teeth.
Hedgehogs are solitary by nature and prefer to be alone. They like to forage in the wild, and hence, keeping a hedgehog as a pet requires ample space for it to run. These mammals are insectivorous and enjoy eating beetles, worms, and even roadkill.
Moreover, they also like to eat groundnuts and fruits. A domesticated hedgehog can eat cat food, boiled eggs, fruits, and vegetables.
There are ancestors of hedgehogs that existed millions of years ago. Through studying fossils, they have been linked to modern hedgehogs. The type of ancestors that existed were Litolestes, the Leipsanolestes, Oncocherus, the Cedrocherus and the Deinogalerix.
The main link between a hedgehog and its relatives is gymnures.