Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Eulipotyphla

Family: Erinaceidae

Genus: Hemiechinus

Species: H. auritus


Hedgehogs are easily recognized by their spines, which are hollow hairs made stiff with keratin. Their spines are not poisonous or barbed and unlike the quills of a porcupine, cannot easily be removed from the animal. However, spines normally come out when a hedgehog sheds baby spines and replaces them with adult spines. This is called ‘quilling’. When under extreme stress or during sickness, a hedgehog can also lose its spines. Their under-parts are covered by coarse grey-brown fur, forming long skirts along flanks. A hedgehog measures around 23 centimeters in length and has a 4 centimeter tail. They can weigh up to 2 kilograms. The Hedgehog has a powerful forefoot and claws for digging. Hedgehogs have 5 toes on their front paws with short nails. However, on their back paws they have 4 toes with long, constantly growing nails. They have these characteristics because hedgehogs burrow. They can also climb, swim and can sprint a surprisingly fast 6 miles per hour.