Western Hedgehog Postcard
The European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus ), Common hedgehog or just Hedgehog in the anglophone parts of Europe, is a hedgehog species found in northern and western Europe. It is about 20 to 30 cm in length. Adult mass typically ranges from 600 (after hibernation) to up to 1,200 g (prior to hibernation); occasionally, it may reach as much as 1,600 g. Males tend to be slightly longer and heavier than females.
The European Hedgehog lives in woodland , farmland and suburban areas. It is nocturnal , and if alarmed will roll itself into a ball, protecting itself against potential predators with its spines.
Unlike the smaller, warmer climate species, the European Hedgehog may hibernate in the winter. It is omnivorous , feeding on a wide range of invertebrates, but preferring slugs , earthworms , beetles and other insects . The preferred arthropods are the millipedes Glomeris marginata and Tachypodoiulus niger as well as the ground beetle Carabus nemoralis . It is also known to eat frogs , small rodents , young birds and birds' eggs.
Blonde hedgehogs have a rare recessive gene giving rise to beady, button-black eyes and creamy-coloured spines; they are not strictly speaking albino . They are extremely rare except on the Channel Island of Alderney . A population of around a thousand is believed to exist. They allegedly carry no fleas, and are a localised island variant of Erinaceus europaeus .
A low coverage assembly of the genome of Erinaceus europaeus was released by the Broad Institute in June 2006 as part of the Mammalian Genome Project.
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