Perhaps because hedgehogs are nocturnal, so many people only come across them at night (or not at all), there seem to be many questions asked about their physical appearance. Do hedgehogs have tails is one such frequently asked question.
Hedgehogs do have tails, although they are not easy to see because of their small size. They are normally quite stubby and no longer than 2-3cms so consequently hardly protrude beyond a hedgehog’s rear, making them almost invisible.
I will try and answer all of the questions you may have about hedgehogs’ physicality in the article.
Do hedgehogs have tails?
All hedgehogs have tails, although some species have longer tails than others. Quite obviously something like a pygmy hedgehog is likely to have a smaller tail than a larger species, although it may have a larger tail in proportion to its body size than others.
How long are hedgehog tails?
Hedgehog’s tails can vary in length which often depends on how large the species is. No hedgehogs have very long tails.
The average tail length range from 1 cm (a quarter of an inch or so) up to 4 or 5 cms (one and a half inches). So, basically, none are even long enough to be seen in normal circumstances as they are generally hidden by their spines.
What do hedgehogs use their tails for?
The jury is out on what exactly a hedgehog may use its tail for, if they use them for anything at all.
It is likely that they may use it as a feeler when in a tight spot and some believe that they may use their tails as a means of communication with other hedgehogs by “wagging” it in an up and down motion such that it hits the ground and makes a noise.
Hedgehog tails normally also have spines along their length so when they curl up the tail helps to cover more of their softer more vulnerable body parts to protect them.
What do hedgehog tails look like?
Hedgehog tails are generally quite stubby and most will have some spines on them to protect the hedgehog from predators when curled up.
You would only normally be able to see a hedgehog’s tail if you were to pick the hedgehog up or if it was lying on its back, curled up in defense.
Do hedgehogs have fur?
Hedgehogs do have fur. In fact, their spines or quills have actually evolved from fur to become hard and sharp.
They still have normal soft fur in the more vulnerable places underneath their bodies which means that when they roll up in defense their spines/quills do not actually stick in them.
Fur grows around their legs, abdomen and also their faces which helps to keep their skin warm during the winter months.
Do hedgehogs have periods?
A female hedgehog does not have periods when they ovulate as is the case with humans. Neither do they come into heat at certain times of the year like dogs and some other animals do.
Instead they menstruate when a male they wish to breed with is around, which is known as induced ovulation.
Do hedgehogs have teeth?
Hedgehogs have a very good set of sharp teeth which, as they are insectivores, also include canine teeth. They normally have between 36 and 44 permanent teeth. These include canine teeth (for tearing), incisors (for biting) as well as pre-molars and molars (for chewing) – just like humans actually.
Unlike rodents, although they have incisor teeth they do not continue to grow and get worn down as they eat and gnaw. Like humans, dogs etc once they have their adult teeth they remain the same for life.
Do hedgehogs have pouches?
Hedgehogs do not have pouches as they are not marsupials such as opossums or Tasmanian devils.
They give birth to live babies which they suckle and protect in their nests until the young hoglets are old enough to venture outside. This doesn’t happen until the young hedgehogs have shed their soft baby quills and they have been replaced by hard sharp adult quills, which then give protection from predators.
Do hedgehogs have belly buttons?
Hedgehogs do not have belly buttons as, unlike humans, they are not attached to the mother with an umbilical cord.
Sometimes when people study hedgehogs close up it can appear that there is a belly button on their stomach. But this is actually the sheaf of the male’s penis. Clearly, female hedgehogs do not have this.
Do hedgehogs have ears?
Hedgehogs do have ears that are more noticeable in some species than in others. Generally, they do not protrude beyond their quills as that way they are more protected from predators.
The exception is the long-eared hedgehog which comes from central Asia and the middle east. As the name suggests they have quite pronounced ears.
Actually, hedgehogs have quite acute hearing. Since they are nocturnal and their eyesight is not particularly good, they use their hearing to great effect when hunting for food at night, along with their sense of smell.
Do hedgehogs have nipples?
Female hedgehogs feed their young on the mother’s milk so indeed they do have nipples to enable this. Most female hedgehogs have 10 nipples (2 rows of five)
Baby hoglets suckle from their mother’s nipples until they are at least three weeks old and they start to develop teeth and can then switch to starting to eat solid food.
Just like in humans, dogs and many other mammals, male hedgehogs also have nipples, although they are obviously not used for anything.
Do hedgehogs have claws?
Hedgehogs have quite strong claws, particularly on their hind legs which they can use to dig with. Although they normally don’t burrow in the same way that rabbits do, for example, they do sometimes dig to increase the depth of a nest area.
They do not normally use their claws as a means of defense as they prefer to rely on curling up in a ball and using their quills to protect themselves.
Pet hedgehog claws can become long as they are less likely to wear them down when living in a cage. They may therefore need to be clipped by yourself or a veterinarian.
Do hedgehogs have whiskers?
Most hedgehog species have whiskers, although they are more pronounced in some species than in others. They protrude from the hedgehog’s snout, just behind their nose, and aid the hedgehog when hunting and foraging for food at night.
Do hedgehogs have spikes?
Hedgehogs have developed spikes over their bodies as a means of defense. The spikes, also known as spines or quills, can be very sharp, as anyone who has picked up a hedgehog will know. Some hedgehogs have sharper quills than others.
The first hedgehog I overwintered I could pick up easily without a problem but the second one I overwintered, two years later, was really painful to pick up, so I normally had to use a glove as its quills were needle sharp.
Hopefully you found the answers to these frequently asked questions interesting and they answered any you may have had. Thanks for visiting.