Hedgehogs are spiny solitary mammals that have seventeen species in five different genera around the world. These creatures are distantly related to the shrews (a small mole like mouse) and have hardly changed in the last fifteen million years.
The adaptations of these mammals are to allow them to get used to a nocturnal, insectivores life, where their spiny coats protect them from most predators.
It got its name ‘hedgehog’ somewhere in the 1450s from the Middle English words heyg hegge meaning ‘hedge’ and hoge hogg meaning ‘hog’ (a snout like a pig). It is also referred to as hedgepig, urchin, and furze-pig.
One of its main adaptations is its ability when threatened to curl up into a tight ball, so that all its spines are pointed outward. This discourages any potential predator from attacking.
Sometimes hedgehogs especially those in the chaparrals who have evolved to be less heavy than animals living in less warmer regions would run away, or even attack by ramming the predator with its spines. It would roll into a ball if all else fails.
These spines are their main defense mechanism, as docile or tame hedgehogs can actually lower their spines so that they may be touched. It is only when they are scared that they stand up.
It has a great sense of smell, and depends on it more than all its other senses. It sniffs its surroundings and can detect things that smell alike, like food and other familiar objects.
They can spot and hear predators, but it is their sense of smell that gives them a huge advantage when hunting in during dusk and dawn (because they are nocturnal).
Hedgehogs in the dry chaparrals enter a state of hibernation when the temperatures become too hot, except when they go out once a week to collect food. Because of its ability of hibernating, it can live in almost any type of climate.
Hedgehogs are also great climbers, and can burrow both underground, or climb trees if they are trying to escape predators.