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What Hedgehogs Do

What Do Hedgehogs Do

Us hedgehogs are probably one of the most famous British animal species (if not THE most famous!), but people aren't usually aware of all the things we can get up to. Let me fill you in:

Noisy Neighbours

We're often snuffling around using our noses to sniff out tasty treats... (we have an excellent sense of smell), and in doing that we have a habit of making quite a lot of noise. We make a lot of grunting and snuffling noises, in fact, that's where our name comes from - because we sound like pigs/hogs, and we're often in hedges ergo hedgehogs!

Although we are nocturnal, our eyesight isn't that great, but we do have very good hearing, so that can mean our noisiness comes in handy, particularly when finding a mate. (Just be prepared to avert your eyes if you do come across a bit of commotion...)


Us hedgehogs are fairly strong swimmers, able to paddle ourselves across streams and (small) rivers, and are perfectly capable of swimming if we fall into a pond. Unfortunately we can fall foul of high sided ponds and swimming pools that we just can't climb out of! We can swim, but eventually get exhausted, just like you would if you couldn't climb out.


Some of us have been known to climb small walls and steps, but it's not that comes naturally or easily to us hedgehogs. Don't get me wrong, we're not averse to climbing rocks and things, but vertical walls are not in our repertoire so they stop us from being able to access places. Therefore a tunnel or hole in a fence or wall will be preferred to a spot of mountaineering.


We have a habit of snuggling up in warm cosy nests - if they are quiet, warm and dry we're not overly fussy. In fact, that can often lead us to long grass, sheds and other items left by humans. If you're thinking of moving piles of things, something we might be under or strimming grass or plants, please be mindful that we may be there - please don't hurt us.

Duck & Cover

Hedgehogs have a well-known strategy for when we are scared - we roll up tight into a ball! We use our prickly coat to cover up and our spines face out presenting people with a very sharp barrier. We have to be flexible as we bring our feet up to our face and then tuck up tight.

Not until we're comfortable that the danger has passed will be unroll ourselves and get back to our business. Whilst this tactic can protect us from most things, badgers in particular can break through this barrier, and some foxes and pet dogs can also cause problems.


Hedgehogs occasionally perform a ritual called anointing. When a hog encounters a new scent, it will lick and bite the source, then form a scented froth in its mouth and paste it on its spines with its tongue. The specific purpose of this ritual is unknown to humans, but some experts believe anointing camouflages the hedgehog with the new scent of the area and provides a possible poison or source of infection to predators poked by their spines. Anointing is sometimes also called anting because of a similar behaviour in birds. I could let you into a secret and tell you what this is really all about, but I think I'll keep it to myself.