top of page


These charismatic little creatures first evolved about 15 million years ago and there are now 17 different species spanning across Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

In the UK, there is only one species, the European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus and they number approximately one million.

Another common species found in this country is the African Pygmy hedgehog Atelerix albiventris, however this is kept as a pet and is not native to the UK. 


The European hedgehog is native to Europe and Central Asia. They are widespread throughout the UK and can be found in a variety of rural and urban habitats. However, their favourite habitats are gardens, hedgerows and woodland. 


Hedgehogs are omnivorous and majority of their diet is made up of a variety of invertebrates, but they will also take advantage of amphibians, baby rodents and birds, bird’s eggs, fruits and mushrooms. Their proclivity for consuming slugs, and other garden pests makes them a gardener's best friend. 


They are nocturnal, non-territorial and predominantly solitary. They have large home ranges approx. 10-20ha and can travel 2-3 miles foraging for food in a single night!


Hedgehogs have an average lifespan of 2-3 years in the wild. They are polygynandrous, mating with multiple mates each season. Their gestation period is around 35 days and females give birth in June/July to four or five hoglets. Young are weaned at 4-6 weeks and reach sexual maturity at around a year old however, often only half of the litter will be successfully weaned. Hedgehogs can often have a second litter in September/October. Commonly called ‘autumn juveniles’ they are less likely to put on enough weight to survive the winter. They are often seen foraging in the daytime and looking underweight. 

In winter (November - April) they hibernate in a nest of leaves or log piles, called a 'hibernaculum'. This time frame isn’t strict and during mild winters, it is common for them to still be active in December and March. Males (boars) emerge a couple of weeks before the females to expand their range. 


Hedgehogs are the UK’s only spiny mammal. These spines are their main defense against predators and when threatened a hedgehog will curl up into a tight spiky ball. The hedgehog’s main predator is the Badger, and they will generally avoid areas with lots of badgers. However, they are known to coexist peacefully when there are good food resources. Foxes will also sometimes predate on hedgehogs but more often hoglets than full adults. Sadly our domestic pets can also sometimes attack hedgehogs but often the spines are enough of a deterrent from them trying again. 

Threats & Conservation.

Sadly, hedgehogs are in decline in the UK. Habitat fragmentation, a change in farming practices (loss of hedgerows and grassland), and use of pesticides in intensive farming and gardening are all contributing factors. 

Thankfully, they are afforded some protection in the UK.

  • They are listed on schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), which makes it illegal to kill or capture wild hedgehogs, with certain methods listed. 

  • They are also listed under the Wild Mammal Protection Act (1996), prohibiting cruel treatment. 

  • The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006, lists Hedgehogs as a species of 'principal importance' which public bodies have a 'duty of responsibility' to protect.

  • They are also listed as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Although this doesn't provide legal protection, it highlights that the species is under threat and requires conservation action. 


You can find out more about the wider Conservation movement at People's Trust for Endangered Species ( and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (


PTES logo
BHPS logo
bottom of page