Erinaceus europaeus

By Marekiaro | plant&animalife | 26 Apr 2021


Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog) is commonly found across Europe and into central Asia. Native to this region, it can be found from the Archipelago of the Azores and as far east as Khazakstan. It is commonly seen in northern Europe, as far as Scandinavia. While it is generally not found south of the Mediterranean Sea, it has been seen in Lebanon. Erinaceus europaeus is also found in New Zealand, where they were introduced in the late 1800s.

Erinaceus europaeus begins mating in late spring (April or May) when the the animal emerges from hibernation. Males, which emerge 3 to 4 weeks before females, expand their home range during mating season to increase chances of finding a mate. When a male finds a mate, he circles her while she lowers her nose and becomes audibly defensive. The male may circle for several hours, making several attempts to mount. If the female continually rejects the male, he eventually leaves to find a receptive female. If she accepts him, she flattens her spines and lowers herself to the ground, which gives the male better access. To copulate, a male climbs onto a female's back and uses his teeth to hold onto her shoulder. Gestation last for about 35 days. Females give birth to four to six offspring per litter, and often have two litters per year. The second litter, which is born later in the year, has a reduced chance of surviving winter. New borns are about 3 inches long and weigh 0.3 to 0.9 oz. At birth, E. europaeus does not appear to have spines, which are concealed beneath their fluid filled skin. 24 hours after birth, the fluid is absorbed and the spines are revealed, and, 2 to 3 days later, the young’s musculature is developed enough to allow it to hold the spines erect. These white adolescent spines are replaced by darker spines after about 1.5 days. Pigmented adult spines replace the first two coats after about 2 to 3 weeks, at which time young begin to open their eyes and learn how to roll into a ball. Young are weaned by 4 to 6 weeks old, after which they become independent of parental care, and are able to mate by about 1 year.

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