🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Are Hedgehogs Intelligent?

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Sense and Sensibility

The answer usually given to this question is, "not very". The hedgehog is a primitive animal; its brain and the rest of its anatomy have remained largely unchanged since the first hedgehogs rolled off the production line some 15 million years ago. This is because the hedgehog's way of life - for example, having a food supply which is abundant and readily available - does not demand the sophisticated mental and physical skills that are required by, for example, a leopard.



People who have a tame hedgehog often report that their pet has acquired a number of basic skills, such as responding to its name and using a litter tray. Many hedgehogs can distinguish between their carer and other people. Researchers have taught hedgehogs simple tasks, such as choosing between a black trapdoor and a white trapdoor to reach food regularly placed behind one but not the other.

One researcher even taught his tame hedgehog to roll and unroll in response to the relevant commands!

The hedgehog seems to have quite a good memory, especially for places, and, remarkably, this memory is not affected by hibernation - during the winter, the hedgehog brain shuts down almost completely, yet when the animal emerges in the spring, its memory is 'switched on' again, unimpaired; it will head without hesitation for a place where food has been regularly put down for it.

As human beings, we tend to think of sight as the most important of the senses, but hedgehogs are chiefly active during the hours of darkness, so good eyesight is not particularly important. Also, as the hedgehog's eye-view is only a few inches above the ground and is often obscured by vegetation, it relies heavily on other senses.



But they can distinguish between shapes - particularly silhouettes against the sky - and moving objects. They may have a limited degree of colour vision, but as they're usually asleep during the day, they don't often have the chance to use it.

The sense of smell is the one on which the hedgehog chiefly relies. It is mainly by smell that it finds its food (even under about three centimeters of soil), detects the approach of danger and recognizes other hedgehogs.

The hedgehogs external ears are small and inconspicuous, but its hearing is very sensitive and is important in locating food and recognizing danger. An earthworm moving gently in the soil of a beetle rustling in leaf litter is making really loud noises to hedgehog ears. Its hearing is particularly sensitive to high frequencies; clicks, squeaks and hand-claps will cause a hedgehog to instantly crouch down, bristling its spines.
Info from "Everything You Want To Know about Hedgehogs - Dilys Breese"

8 comments:

  1. i have just brought a hedgehog into my garden,to safety,from some boys who were kicking it, as though it was a football,people should learn their children to respect and take care of our wild life.

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  2. Oh Anonymous! That is so terribly, terribly awful! Thank you for saving it, just imagine the pain and confusion at such treatment! And I totally agree, people should certainly teach their children to respect all life on our planet - maybe they don't respect their own lives...

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  3. I have just pulled o to my driveway to find one trying to force its way under the side gate to the back garden i have opened the gate for it and it seems to have moved in to the back garden lol hope the lille fella has a good meal and settles for the night plent shrubery and bushes for the little man. I would have used those kids as a.football untill thet learned living breathing footballs hurt and being used as one is a traumatc experience for the biggest of mamels sick society of today makes me feel ill.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, what a lucky find Anon! Hope he's happy and decides to stay. I agree with you, people can be very cruel and it is rather sickening.

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  4. We are lucky we have three hedgehogs we are now feeding. They are costing us dearly as they love mealworm, so we brought dog biscuits.
    The first night we soaked them in water and all they did was to suck them so we gave them as dry biscuits the next night. Though they only eat some of them, they don't really like them.
    So what's next.
    Plus what I mistook for a hungry noise turned out 1 was warning off another it turned into a nasty attack, which we tried to stop by making as much noise as possible in the hope that the one would stop biting the other and throwing him around like a rag doll.
    We put down a couple of dishes hoping that it would stop this but they are so blind that they can not see it even up close.
    In the four months we have been taking care of them we know there walk pattern but still amazed their memory isn't good

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    1. You are so lucky to have them around Anonymous! You're right, they do not like dog biscuits, even soaked, but they do love bread and milk. The Hedgies can be very territorial, especially when feeding. Just keep up the good work and enjoy!

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  5. Hi Maree, hedgehogs are lactose intolerant! Aren't they? They should not have milk, chicken flavour catfood, mealworms, not milk ever.

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  6. Hi there, My hedgies ate bread and milk once a week for years, with no side effects and they absolutely loved mealworms, gobbled as many as I could give.. I agree with the catfood. They had a huge enclosure, so got a lot of natural food as well.

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