Hedgehogs are nocturnal mammals famous for their spines, which are actually hollow hairs. Their spines do not usually fall out, except when they are sick or under extreme stress, but as they grow, a young animal’s spines will fall out and be replaced with adult spines. Hedgehogs have the ability to roll into a tight ball, which causes the spines to point outwards. During the day hedgehogs sleep under bushes, grass, rocks or most commonly in dens dug in the ground.
They are found throughout Ireland in all lowland habitats where there is sufficient food and cover. They are most common in areas where grassland meets woodland.
Hedgehogs are omnivorous, feeding on a huge variety of different types of food including insects, fruit, meat, grass and berries.They are distantly related to members of the shrew family, and interestingly, completely unrelated to porcupines (which are a type of rodent).
Image (c) from Gibe, used under Creative Commons License BY 3.0.