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We may think of these spiny little creatures as British woodland animals but in fact there are 17 species of Hedgehog found throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand, though none are native to Australia or America. These little guys are one of the first mammal families to wander planet Earth and have existed for 15 million years! Not even my grandad can remember that long ago! Cute though they may be you'll be lucky to see much of these little spiny mammals because they live on a diet of insects which are found largely in trees and dense woodland and because of their spiny defenses they don't make the best domestic pets. Furthermore they are nocturnal creatures and so sleep for most of the day which also contributes to the rarity of seeing them.

The most common hedgehog pets are actually a cross between the African pigmy hedgehogs and the white bellied hedgehogs because this branch of the family are smaller and less spiny making them far more comfortable and safe to hold and cuddle (so if you do like the idea of a hedgehog pet best to avoid European ones). Unfortunately many of these cute little guys can be prone to cancer and other nasty diseases that are common in humans but they are also used in medicine in some places! For example in the Middle East Hedgehog meat is considered a cure for4 arthiritis! In Ancient Egypt Hedgehog was commonly served for dinner, imagine coming home from school and finding out you've got hedgehog for tea; but they aren't eaten much in modern day don't worry. During the 1980s Hedgehog flavour crisps were introduced but don't worry they didn't contain any hedgehog!  

The top Hedgehog here is a larger European style foraging for tasty bugs to eat at night whilst the bottom one is a smaller African pigmy Hedgehog that are most commonly kept as pets, and you can see why; so cute! Unfortunately badgers are a natural predator that Hedgehogs need to be wary of but otherwise they are relatively safe in their habitat and the main risk to them is actually farmers who try to trap them to stop them eating their crops. Due to their diet our spiny little friends can kill off insect and bird populations which means the scattering of pollen can be effected and thus less crops grow as effectively which means less food for us! That's a good example of the cycle of life and how one thing effects another in a chain reaction, go impress your Biology teachers with that piece of information! 

If you do like the idea of a Hedgehog pet bear in mind their insect diet and that they usually live between 4-10 years if looked after carefully with a controlled diet, but they might not mix well with cats or dogs. Nevertheless they are cute little guys and relatively harmless, unless of course you're a bug.   

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