Hedgehog is a small animal that looks somewhat like a porcupine. The common hedgehog lives in northern Europe and Asia, Asia Minor, southern and eastern Africa, and New Zealand. It is about 9 inches (23 centimeters) long. It has short ears and legs, a short tail, and a long nose. Stiff, needlelike growths called spines cover its back and protect the animal from its enemies. When it is in danger, the hedgehog rolls itself into a spiny ball.
Hedgehogs hunt for food at night. They eat insects, snakes, small mammals, birds, and birds' eggs. When cold weather comes, hedgehogs settle down to hibernate. Hedgehogs are easily tamed. Some people keep them as pets to get rid of insects and other house pests.
Scientific classification. Hedgehogs belong to the hedgehog family, Erinaceidae. The scientific name for the common hedgehog is Erinaceus europaeus.