Welcome to Green Feathers, where we celebrate the wonders of nature! Today, we embark on an exciting journey to explore the common kinds of hedgehogs found in the United Kingdom. These charismatic creatures have become a symbol of the British countryside and play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance. Join us as we uncover the fascinating characteristics of these beloved spiky residents!
Western European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)
The Western European hedgehog is the most widespread and well-known species found throughout the UK. Recognized for its round body covered in sharp spines, this hedgehog typically grows to around 20 centimeters (8 inches) in length. They sport a mixture of brown, gray, and black spines that provide excellent camouflage in natural habitats. Western European hedgehogs are predominantly nocturnal and feed on a variety of invertebrates, such as worms, beetles, and slugs.
Algerian Hedgehog (Atelerix algirus)
Although less common than the Western European hedgehog, the Algerian hedgehog can also be found in certain areas of the UK. This species is slightly smaller, reaching around 15 centimeters (6 inches) in length. With a darker coat and shorter spines, they are easily distinguishable from their European counterparts. Algerian hedgehogs are primarily insectivorous, with a diet consisting of insects, small reptiles, and vegetation. They are more tolerant of warmer climates, making them adaptable to southern regions of the UK.
Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus)
The Northern White-Breasted hedgehog is a subspecies of the Western European hedgehog and is prevalent in northern parts of the UK, particularly Scotland. These hedgehogs have distinct white fur on their bellies, setting them apart from other species. They are well-adapted to colder climates and have been observed in higher altitudes. Like their relatives, they feed on insects, small mammals, amphibians, and even birds' eggs when available.
Long-Eared Hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus)
While not native to the UK, it's worth mentioning the long-eared hedgehog, as it has gained popularity as a pet in recent years. Originating from regions such as Central Asia and the Middle East, these hedgehogs have endearing elongated ears that aid their exceptional hearing abilities. Although their ownership is regulated, enthusiasts can sometimes find them in specialized rescue centres.