Belongs to: insectivores

Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Familiar spiny animal that rolls itself into a ball when attacked.

Habitat: gardens, hedgerows, open woodland.

Widespread across Europe except the extreme north; widespread and common in Britain, but may be declining.


Pointed black nose and spiny body; up to 30 cm long.

Mostly nocturnal; climbs well; eats mostly invertebrates including slugs and snails.

Noisy mating ritual with much hissing and grunting; leaves shiny black cylindrical droppings, distributed at random.


Makes a nest of dry leaves and grass in dense cover; 1 or 2 litters, from summer to early autumn.

4–5 young in a litter, helpless with soft spines; they must build up to a weight of at least 450g by November to survive the winter.

They hibernate from autumn to early spring, in a nest under litter or in dense scrub, and live up to 10 years.

  • photo

© Trevor Birkby