They are often mistaken for porcupines, but hedgehogs are much smaller and have short spines instead of long quills. Hedgehogs are “insectivores,” which means they eat bugs! They are most active at dusk and dawn, and use their great sense of smell and hearing to detect bugs and worms under leaves or soil.
Their short legs don’t help them run fast or climb, so they rely on their spines to make them an unappetizing meal for a snake or bird. Hedgehogs have a special muscle in their stomachs called an “annular” muscle that allows them to roll up in a tight ball, protecting their their soft underbellies and heads. And who wants to eat a ball of spines?
The Zoo’s two hedgehogs live in the Conservation Learning Center, and are frequently used for education programs. Docents also bring them out into the public classroom on most mornings.