Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wilson. Wilson Wonders, “what is an hedgehog” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wilson!

Do you know of any animals that hibernate? Bears might immediately pop into your head. You might even think of bats, lemurs, or groundhogs! Today’s Wonder of the Day is about another hibernating mammal. Which one is it? Here’s a hint: If you wake this animal, it might poke you with one of its many sharp spikes. That’s right, it’s the hedgehog!

Have you ever WONDERed just how many spikes a hedgehog has? On average, their prickly little backs have over 6,000 of them! The main purpose of the hedgehog’s spikes is to protect it from predators. When a hedgehog feels threatened, it curls up into a spiked ball.

Would you like to see a hedgehog in the wild? They live in a variety of habitats. You can find wild hedgehogs in Africa, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand. In cold areas, hedgehogs hibernate during the winter, like bears. Hedgehogs that live in warmer climates, though, stay alert year-round.

Hedgehogs like to live and hunt in areas with lots of plant growth. That’s where their name comes from—they’re commonly found under hedges. And they oink, much like hogs. Hedgehogs tend to have poor eyesight, but don’t let that fool you! They aren’t easy to sneak up on. These critters have strong senses of smell and hearing.

During the day, hedgehogs curl up into balls and snooze under bushes or other shrubberies. At nightfall, they wake and go on the hunt. Hedgehogs enjoy a balanced diet of worms, bugs, and mice. They’re also known to chow down on the occasional snake. And these are hungry little creatures! Hedgehogs sometimes eat one-third of their body weight in one evening.

Odds are, you may know someone who has a hedgehog as a pet. Many people believe they can be great companions, much like cats and dogs. Hedgehog owners recommend being aware of a pet hedgehog’s feelings. After all, frightening this pet could end in a very prickly situation for you! They also say a good hedgehog owner is one who respects their pet’s nocturnal nature. When its needs are met, hedgehogs can be very affectionate pets!

Others believe it’s wrong to keep hedgehogs in captivity. They say that, as wild animals, hedgehogs belong in nature. Despite these concerns, pet hedgehogs are becoming more common in recent years. 

Would you like to have a pet hedgehog? Or would you rather look for the creature in the wild? Either way, tread lightly! This is one creature you definitely don’t want to startle.

Standards: NGSS.LS1.A, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.8, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.R.10

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