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Hedgehogs

many well know the Prickly kid of a hedgehog and love. But not all members of family of hedgehogs are armed by prickles. At gimnurov and hairy hedgehogs the body is covered rigid or even soft and a fine hair.

Hedgehogs It is considered to be that the very first hedgehogs have appeared on the Earth about 30 million years ago, in oligotsene. By the end following miotsenovogo the period, i.e. About 5 million years ago, hedgehogs were settled on all planet, except Australia, the South America, Madagascar and Antarctic. Fossil remains of a huge hairy hedgehog concern this epoch ( Deinogalerix). This large animal in size about an average dog lived in the south of Italy, and in its diet other mammals, apparently, entered.

For last 5 million years hedgehogs at any stage have disappeared in the North America. Today they widespread across all Europe, since Southern Scandinavia and finishing British isles, in Russia, in all Africa, in the Near East, in China and South East Asia. In Australia they are not present, but in New Zealand great variety.

All prickly hedgehogs are approximately identical on size - length of a body with a head no more than 20-30 sm - and are protected by a dense thorny armour. Needles, and actually modified hairs, cover from above and from sides all body and a head part. The muzzle and a paunch of a small animal have grown with rough hair. At the slightest danger the hedgehog by means of special longitudinal and koltsevidnyh muscles is turned off in almost impregnable prickly sphere, having bristled up terrible needles. However the thorny cover a small animal, as a brush, schesyvaet from wood grasses of hungry pincers and fleas of which cannot get rid any more. Ability of hedgehogs to collect on itself wood ticks scientific steels to use for the account of these dangerous parasites in the centers entsefalita and tuljaremii.

At hairy hedgehogs the body form approximately same, but instead of needles they are covered by hair of different colouring, density and the invoice - from rigid to soft and thin. They differ from the prickly relatives long as at a rat, a tail covered horn cheshujkami, and are more similar to shrews, than on hedgehogs. Besides they are quicker and lovchee in movements whereas prickly hedgehogs prefer to move slow shuffling step.

At all hedgehogs the sharp extended muzzles that it was convenient to rummage in a dense underbrush in search of a forage. The hearing at them excellent, and a hearing aid is well developed, though almost at all kinds ears small and round. The exception is made, certainly, ushastye by hedgehogs, whose auricles which have acquired white hairs are much longer. Aggravating hearing, they, probably, serve small animals for search of extraction or improve teplootdachu in a hot climate of native deserts. At living in Asia and the North Africa deserted hedgehogs ears too are longer, than at their European colleagues. The thorny armour at them is slightly less, so the soft fur covers also the bottom parts of sides. The length of a needle no more than 3 see Besides ushastye hedgehogs differ surprising stability to strong poisons - for example, to poison of a viper - and to an overheat.


Habits

Hedgehogs conduct mainly lonely nocturnalism though occasionally happen, are active and in the mornings. Night without a break they are occupied by forage searches, and have a rest in the afternoon and sleep. Despite strong paws and the claws adapted for digging of the earth, the West European hedgehogs do not dig holes, and are arranged on day rest somewhere in dense ezhevichnike or a radical hollow. Having curtailed into a leaky ball, the hedgehog sleeps in a time nest from a grass and dry leaves or is simple on the naked earth. Will pass some days, and the hedgehog will get over on a new place where will arrange other den. Ushastye and deserted hedgehogs build nests in secluded cracks between stones, and sometimes dig own holes, expand the dwellings left by former owners or even occupy enormous termitaries, which not a rarity in the Central Africa. Ohotnee all pregnant females where arrange nests for posterity lodge in holes. Gimnury too spend day in refuges between roots of trees, among stones, in hollows or the left holes. Ordinary gimnur prefers to lodge on marshy soils on coast of streams and in mangrovyh thickets.


Hibernation

In adverse conditions hedgehogs are capable to run into hibernation. The European hedgehogs usually plunge into a deep sleep for all winter, reacting not so much to a cold, how many on shortage of a forage. Some deserted subspecies run into hibernation in the most hot and dry season, hiding from an overheat in holes. In this case speak not about winter, and about summer hibernation. For summer months the West European hedgehog quite often gets fat, almost twice, accumulating stocks of hypodermic fat for long wintering. With approach of colds it suits warm zimovochnuju a hole, having chosen a convenient place under a shed, in a green hedge or a heap of garden dust. The nest is covered by a layer of dry foliage and a grass in the thickness to 50 sm and densely stamped. Thanks to it inside at any frosts the constant temperature remains, never falling below zero.


Spring awakening

Depending on stocks of fat and presence of a forage hedgehogs lie down in hibernation during the period from the beginning of winter till the end of December, and males, as a rule, before females. From time to time they wake up and even come to light, but the present awakening comes only in the spring when fatty stocks and then forage searches become their main care will completely be settled. The night-time for saturation does not suffice a hedgehog, and in the spring it often catches sight at the height of day or has an effect rustling of dry last year's foliage.

Gimnury and usual hedgehogs living in damp tropics do not require hibernation for the forage at them always are a lot of. Some New Zealand hedgehogs lie down in hibernation for winter months, and inhabitants of warmer edges, as a rule, are active all year long. However all of them are inclined to run into hibernation if them to take from a habitual inhabitancy.


a Food

Hedgehogs concern insectivorous animals, and the basis of their diet is made by every possible insects and bespozvonochnye. Besides such recognised delicacies as bugs and earthworms, the West European hedgehogs willingly eat caterpillars, uhovertok, larvae and multilegs, regale on baby birds and eggs of birds nesting on the earth, and as required do not disdain also drop. A pleasant variety seeds bring in their menu, berries, fruits and other vegetative food.

The European kinds lodge in coppices, on edges of woods, porosshih a grass heathlands, in gardens and parks more often. Deserted and ushastye hedgehogs meet in the most different corners of the area, but, preferring dry places for the device of nests, avoid areas with plentiful deposits. In deserts where there are not enough insects, small rodents enter into a diet of hedgehogs, apparently. Gimnury live in nizinnyh rainforests, perfectly float and besides insects eat Crustacea, frogs, molluscs and even fish.


Where to have a bite?

In search of a forage the hedgehog is helped by excellent sense of smell and hearing. In the nightly wanderings the small animal constantly sniffs to smells and is capable to guess a worm on depth to 3 it see Sharp claws instantly breaks off the earth and reaches an ill-starred victim. The rest of the time a hedgehog, snuffling and pofyrkivaja, it is noisy digs in dry foliage, in green fences, on wood edges or in crude lowlands, continually, listening, whether will rustle nearby any zhuchok.


Healthy appetite

Hedgehogs are always ready to be supported with something but when comes to reserve time fat before zaleganiem in hibernation, turn to the present gluttons. Without having saved up enough fat, the small animal cannot fall asleep and hardly will worry winter. For a night the hedgehog on the average passes to 3 km in search of a forage, and males bypass the big territory, rather than females.

Jaws of a hedgehog are arranged so that the bottom cutters as if a scoop, select an insect and submit it to top. The bottom cutters rather tupy, but sharp top perfectly bite through extraction.


Reproduction

Depending on a habitat hedgehogs breed at various times year, and inhabitants of tropics - even all year long. At some kinds of no more than one issue in a year, others - including the West European hedgehog - can give and two broods.

The First marriage period of the West European hedgehog usually comes in April, soon after awakening from hibernation. The male started up in night wanderings couples with any female favourable to it. At first it makes some circles round the attracted girlfriend then partners, it is noisy puffing and snuffling, pass to business. On it all matrimonial relations come to an end, and later 31-35 days the female brings posterity in specially arranged nest.


Ezhata

Hedgehogs In a brood happens from 2 to 7 kids. Ezhata will be born blind, naked and absolutely helpless. The future needles only bugorkami are designated on a pink skin not to injure mother at sorts. However in some hours at ezhat white and soft needles, and later three days - dark grow at first. At fortnight age white needles absolutely disappear in weight of the dark. Mummy disturbed during the first hours after the delivery can eat the posterity. But if all passes safely, small ezhata quickly grow and develop. In two weeks at them eyes open, and the muzzle and a paunch start to acquire hair.


Two broods for a summer

By the end of the third week of a life on change to milk teeth at ezhat constants grow, and they are ready to follow mummy in campaigns behind a forage. Even three-four weeks she will feed with their milk, and then simply will expel from a nest.

If the first brood was in May in the end of summer ezhiha can quite bring the second issue. However to the cubs who were born on the threshold of autumn, it is much more difficult to survive, than to their big brothers at which in a stock of the whole three months, to grow up and save up fat for the winter. Passing to own corn, young ezhata weigh nearby 250 g - ten times more than at a birth but to worry winter, they should weigh not less than 400 New generation will reach a sexual maturity only next year, at 11-month's age.

At ushastyh hedgehogs there is only one issue in a year from July till September. In a brood usually 4-7 cubs who are born in the special nested chamber arranged in the deepest and cool corner of an underground hole. Pregnancy at different kinds lasts from 30 till 59 days. In an issue ordinary and small gimnurov, as a rule, is no more than two-three cubs.