Hedgehog hiding behind pansy flowers

Prickly pigs? Hogwash!

European hedgehog

Even though these cute little animals have “hog” in their name, hedgehogs aren’t any sort of swine, nor are they related to porcupines! The hedgehog’s closest family are shrews, moles, and moonrats.

A hedgehog rolled into a ball with its face peeking out

Roly-poly, tiny, and spiny

The hedgehog is a short and stout little mammal that is sometimes called a pincushion with legs—can you “point out” why? That’s right! It’s because of their quills. Most mammals have fur or hair that is somewhat flexible and soft. But the hair on the back of a hedgehog is a thick layer of spikes (or modified hairs) known as quills. These quills are made of keratin, the same stuff our hair and fingernails are made of.

African hedgehog

Help with the yard work

There are 16 species of hedgehogs, and they can range from 4 to 12 inches long. They live in Asia, Africa, Europe, and New Zealand, where they eat mostly insects and slugs and snails. In a way, they are a gardener’s best friend!