Do Hedgehogs Have Tails?

hedgehog climbs out of a basket as enthusiast wonders Do Hedgehogs Have Tails?

Hedgehogs are adorable cute mammals that are increasingly being domesticated globally. If you’re interested in bringing one home, it is logical to want to know as much about its biology as possible to make the best judgment call.

This article answers the question “Do Hedgehogs Have Tails?” by revealing more about the hedgehog’s biology. We also uncover the characteristics of hedgehog tails including the shape, size, and benefits if any. Let’s get started.

Do Hedgehogs Have Tails?

Hedgehogs do have tails but they are short and may only be 2cm long in most breeds. Hedgehog tails are present in all varieties but can be difficult to identify due to the quills covering their backs. It takes closer inspections of the hedgehog’s body to point out the tail.

It is no coincidence that many folks have this misconception about the absence of tails in hedgehogs. With up to 7,000 spines covering the length and breadth of their backs, the short tails do not stand a chance to stand out.

Hedgehog Biology

African pygmy hedgehog relaxes on a tree branch

One of the biggest misconceptions about hedgehogs is a close biological relationship to porcupines because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Porcupines may have spikes just like hedgehogs but the latter is more related to shrews and moles biologically.

Hedgehogs have a long nose that looks snout-like with ears positioned to offer exceptional hearing. Their legs are small with curved claws to offer digging advantages during foraging for food or burrowing in the wild.

While hedgehogs are known for the multiple spines on the back, the stomach, face, and neck are also covered with fur which may be black, brown, or white-colored depending on the breed. The quill and fur colors combine to provide an attractive appearance for these exotic pets.

Hedgehogs are native to Africa, Asia, and Europe, with 17 different species discovered so far. They have evolved over several centuries, with the earliest breeds older than the first human by approximately 75 million years, according to fossil records. (Source)

The quills also come in handy when the hedgehog feels threatened by allowing quick rollups to repel predatory attacks. The soft underbelly is protected when the hedgehog balls up and any attempts at physical contact by larger animals lead to poking pain.

What Does A Hedgehog Tail Look Like?

Hedgehog tails may vary in length but they are covered with protective spines and located at the rear end of the body. The prickly spines on the hedgehog’s tail offer further concealment so no wonder many folks think hedgehogs are tailless.

Tails are found in both genders and shouldn’t be confused with the male’s penis, which is located in the middle section of the abdomen.

How Long is A Hedgehog Tail?

The average size of an adult hedgehog tail is approximately 2 cm. Like most parts of the body, it experiences physical growth to correspond with the hedgehog’s body size. Hoglets are born with tiny tails measuring less than a centimeter but it expands in size over time as the hedgehog continues to experience physical growth.

Do not be bothered if a newly arrived hoglet’s tail looks barely recognizable because consistent growth is likely within the next couple of months.

Can Hedgehogs Wag Their Tail?

hedgehog on a tree stump but Can Hedgehogs Wag Their Tail?

Hedgehogs wag their tails for defensive purposes only unlike common household pets like cats and dogs. According to studies, tail wagging helps hedgehogs detect danger including predators and natural disasters in their surroundings

Due to the concealed nature of the hedgehog’s tails, wagging is often impossible to detect even when it does occur.

What Do Hedgehogs Use Their Tail For?

As previously stated, hedgehogs scan their environments with their tails for detection of potential sources of danger. Besides, hedgehog tails offer more balance during their nightly foraging trips for food in the wild.

These creatures are infamous for their weak eyesight meaning additional balance can come in handy, especially during rainy nights when the ground becomes muddy and slippery. Hedgehog tails also act as a form of communication between hedgehogs, especially as a warning of imminent danger.

It is more common among mother hedgehogs roaming around with hoglets during the night. The tails are used to communicate the presence of predators to the hoglets to ensure effective hiding or curling up when need be.

Do All Hedgehogs Have Tails?

All 17 breeds of hedgehogs have tails although they may vary in color, size, texture, and other physical characteristics. The Amur breed or Erinaceus amurensis which is native to China and Korea is noted for some of the longest tails of up to 6 cm.

This is different from popular breeds like the African Pygmy hedgehogs and European hedgehogs with average tail lengths of 2cm.

How To Feed Pet Hedgehogs

hedgehog sharing a meal with a kitten

Your hedgehog’s diet is a vital part of its care because it requires the right nutrients to grow and maintain a healthy weight. Hedgehogs thrive on diets comprising wet or dry cat food, insects, fruits, and vegetables. It may also be supplemented by animal protein sources like poultry and hardboiled eggs to add variety and keep the hedgehog’s protein base satisfied.

Hedgehogs should be supplied clean, water via dishes or bottles to speed up digestion and keep their bodies hydrated for optimal functionality. Many owners prefer bottles to bowls because they are much cleaner and take up less space in the hedgehog’s cage.

How To Create The Perfect Enclosure For Pet Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs may be housed in cages or other confined enclosures featuring optimal temperatures of 75 F-85 F to ensure comfort regardless of prevailing external temperatures. The cage should feature paper-based or fleece bedding to offer cushioning for the hedgehog’s spines against the physically harsh cage conditions.

Additionally, the cage’s dimensions should measure at least 2×3 feet to allow ample floor space for key accessories like food bowls, wheels, hideouts, and other toys. There should also be additional space for the hedgehog to move around freely to minimize boredom.

Hedgehogs are solitary animals that do not thrive with cage mates. It is essential that one hedgehog is kept per cage to eliminate signs of aggression and reduce the risk of mite or flea transmissions from one hedgehog to the other.

Hedgehogs tend to itch and scratch a lot when suffering from parasitic infestations so that could be a sign to seek treatment.

Conclusion: Do Hedgehogs Have Tails?

Hedgehogs do have tails that are hidden by a large number of spines or quills covering their backs and other external body areas. The tails are also concealed by additional quills to provide a second line of defense against predatory attacks.

Tails are not exclusive to specific genders or species because they are found in all hedgehogs. A harder look is all it takes to identify the tail in any hedgehog species.

The tails offer balance during nightly walks while providing enhanced dexterity for hedgehogs to maneuver themselves through the slightest cracks and crevices in the woods. They also serve as a mode of communication between hedgehogs especially from mothers to hoglets to warn of prevailing dangers.

Hedgehogs are born with tiny tails that grow longer over the next couple of months just like other parts of the hoglet’s body. The average domesticated hedgehog’s tail can be up to 2cm long but uncommon breeds like the Amur hedgehog’s tails could be significantly longer at up to 6cm.

Recent Posts