Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years work within zoos.
Hedgehog Day takes place every year on the 2nd February, It shares this day with Groundhog Day in the US and Canada. As there are no Hedgehogs in the Americas immigrants took that tradition with them from Europe. It is all about predicting the weather. In the US it is all about emerging from hibernation. The belief is that if the Groundhog comes out and sees his shadow then he will retreat into his burrow as winter will last another six weeks.
The tradition is similar in Europe with its origins going back to Roman times and afterwards getting tied in with the Christian celebration of Candlemas. The behavior of animals and plants has always been used as a way of predicting the weather.
The Hedgehogs are found throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. There are Seventeen different species. The European Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus is the one most people are familiar with. The Hedgehog has been with us virtually unchanged for at least 15 million years. So our ancestors always knew the Hedgehog.
This delightful little mammal has a lifespan of 4 - 7 years but longer in captivity.
Hedgehogs are omnivorous and feed on a wide variety of foods. They are especially good at controlling garden pests.
The Hedgehog in its turn is eaten by people through much of its range or used for medicinal or magical purposes.
Mrs Tiggy Winkle
Stories of Mrs Tiggy Winkle by Beatrix Potter are many children's introduction to Hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs appear frequently in medieval art and in Greco/Roman and Egyptian sculptures.
Sadly today Hedgehogs are probably the UK,s biggest roadkill. Numbers too are threatened by changes in farming practices. Many ancient hedges have been removed to expand fields. Their main predators are Badgers, Foxes and Birds of Prey.
The Hedgehog won the poll of Britain's Favorite Mammal in 2016.
Google Doodle Celebrating the Winter Solstice 2021
1/ The word "Hedgehog" first appeared in 1450.
2/ Hedgehog day became popular in 1994 with the arrival of 'Sonic the Hedgehog'.
3/ The British Hedgehog Preservation Society celebrates 'The Day of the Hedgehog' on the 21st November. There is also an 'International Hedgehog Day' celebrated on the 10th November, There is even a Hedgehog Awareness Week which takes place from 2nd - 8th May. Hedgehogs are popular.
4/ Hedgehogs were introduced to New Zealand in the 1870's and they are now considered a pest because they prey on local wildlife.
5/ Hedgehogs are not related to Porcupines.
6/ Hedgehogs will typically go into hibernation in November or December and appear again in March or April.
7/ Americans celebrate Groundhog Day on the same day as Hedgehog Day because there are no hedgehogs in the Americas. They brought the tradition from Europe.
8/ Hedgehogs introduced to some of the Scottish Islands are a serious pest, eating the eggs and chicks of shorebirds.
9/ Although Hedgehogs are not native to the Americas some US zoos celebrate Hedgehog Day.
10/ Hedgehogs and Groundhogs are not related.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Aristotle says that hedgehogs can foretell a change of wind
There are three verses about Hedgehogs in the Bible.
The Ancient Greek poet Archilochus said: "The fox has many tricks, The hedgehog just one...one good one"
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