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Discover the Quirky World of Hedgehogs: Top 13 Fun Facts to Make You Smile!

illustration of hedgehogs
Get ready to be amazed as you discover the quirkiest, most endearing secrets of our spiky friends – the extraordinary hedgehogs!

1. Yog-hedge: Master of Flexibility

If Sonic the Hedgehog traded in his sneakers for some workout gear, he'd be the ultimate yoga master – or should we say, yog-hedge? With an astounding ability to curl up into a pokey, impenetrable sphere: the hedgehog can boast up to 7,000 spines of defense, which, little did you know, are actually made of resilient and flexible keratin – the very same material as human hair!
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2. Hedgehog Hero: Venom-dodging Defender

Move over, superheroes, there's a new defender in town: the Venom-dodging Hedgehog! That's right, these prickly little powerhouses have a secret weapon - an ability to resist venomous snake bites. The secret to their spikey shields: a protein called erinacin, which grants them a superpower against a multitude of slithery foes. So, step aside, Superman, and make way for the Hedgehog Hero!
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3. Anointing: Quill-Fu Masters

No, they're not Sonic the Hedgehog's long-lost cousins, nor masters of quill-fu: hedgehogs actually defend themselves through a frothy process called anointing, where they create an ample amount of saliva and spread it all over their spines to thwart predators by masking their scent.
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4. Hedgehog Home Renovations

Forget certified architects and HGTV stars: hedgehogs have been nailing the home renovation game for ages, and they don't even need a catchy show title or a funky tool belt! It's all in the quill: these prickly designers craft seasonal nests like cozy grassy beach-balls for summer living and winter wonderland hibernation dens with impressive insulation from leaves, twigs, and grass. These little overachievers start building nests as early as three weeks old and even create backup pre-hibernation nests, just in case their main crib gets wrecked!
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BASE Jumping Hedgehogs

5. BASE Jumping Hedgehogs

Did you hear about the hedgehog that became a BASE jumper? It turns out they're the unsung heroes of the animal kingdom's stunt scene: Hedgehogs can survive falls from heights over 10 meters, thanks to their spines made of alpha keratin, which provide impact protection while being stronger than steel and as pliable as styrene rods depending on the environment.
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6. Spine-Care: Hedgehog Foam Party

Just when you thought hedgehogs couldn't get any cooler, they bring you the latest in spine-care routines: the hedgehog "foam party"! But this isn't your typical wild night out; it's actually a mysterious behavior called "self-anointing" where hedgehogs coat their spines in frothy saliva for possibly added protection against toxins and predators – although it remains unproven whether it helps them camouflage from potential threats.
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7. Night Spike-Ball Adventures

Why did the hedgehog cross the road at midnight? Because it's a night owl – or should we say, a night spike-ball: Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal creatures, using their keen senses of smell and hearing to navigate in the dark, while their poor eyesight takes a backseat. So spotting one during the day is a cute and rare sighting, as they're more likely to be bustling about when the sun goes down!
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8. Splash-tastic Spiky Swimmers

Splash-tastic Spiky Swimmers: Contrary to the belief that hedgehogs don't mix well with water, these prickly pals can actually swim and have been spotted taking leisurely dips in shallow waters, with some domesticated hedgehogs even delighting in a bubbly bath time.
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9. Rolling With the Punches

When life throws a hedgehog a curveball, they take "rolling with the punches" quite literally: these prickly creatures fend off predators by curling up into a near-impervious ball, using their daunting spines as nature's very own suit of armor.
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Globe-Trotting Males, Netflix & Chill Females

10. Globe-Trotting Males, Netflix & Chill Females

It seems like male hedgehogs are quite the globe-trotters in the quest for love, while females prefer to Netflix and chill for a baby-making marathon: Ethiopian hedgehogs (Paraechinus aethiopicus) can travel up to 5 kilometers a night in arid environments, with males covering more ground during breeding season as they mate with multiple females, and females conserving energy to produce and care for their young.
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11. Hedgehog's Varied Palate

Feeling peckish? Hedgehogs aren't too fussy about their bites either – they could charm their way right into a dog's dinner bowl, or even nab the cat's fancy feast on a daring raid! These resourceful and adventurous little foragers have a varied palate indeed: Hedgehogs consume everything from insects and invertebrates, to carrion, fallen fruits, and eggs of ground-nesting birds, supplementing their diets with dog or cat food, hedgehog-specific meals, and cat biscuits. Just remember to lay off the bread and milk, as these quilled cuties are lactose intolerant and require nutrient-rich dinners.
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12. Quilled Cuties: Snake Venom Resistance

Rolling in the deep, but not like Adele: Hedgehogs can curl into a spiky ball as a nifty defense mechanism against predators, with desert hedgehogs running or fighting back instead due to fewer spines. Bonus fun bit – they are part of an exclusive four-mammal club (including pigs, honey badgers, and mongooses) with genetic mutations rendering them resistant to snake venom, particularly α-neurotoxin. How's that for a prickly punchline?
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13. Party Like It's 14,999,999 B.C.

Party like it's 14,999,999 B.C.: these spiky mischief-makers have been grooving in the moonlight since their shrewd ancestors first learned how to say, "No thanks, I'm not a night owl, I'm a nocturnal hedgehog." But don't let their love for late nights fool you, hedgehogs boast a mighty superpower: they have natural immunity against some snake venom, thanks to the protein erinacin in their muscles. They're even a part of an elite quadruple-threat club with pigs, honey badgers, and mongooses – all of whom have evolved to give snakes a run for their money with α-neurotoxin immunity, too!
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