What is hedgehog?

  • (noun): Relatively large rodents with sharp erectile bristles mingled with the fur.
    Synonyms: porcupine
    See also — Additional definitions below


A hedgehog is any of the spiny mammals of the subfamily Erinaceinae, which is in order Erinaceomorpha. There are seventeen species of hedgehog in five genera, found through parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand (by introduction). There are no hedgehogs native to Australia, and no living species native to the Americas. Hedgehogs share distant ancestry with shrews (order Soricidae), with gymnures possibly being the intermediate link, and have changed little over the last 15 million years. Like many of the first mammals they have adapted to a nocturnal, insectivorous way of life. Hedgehogs' spiny protection resembles that of the unrelated rodent porcupines and monotreme echidnas.

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