Whether you’re intrigued by wild hedgehogs or you own a pet hog and are worried about it making a quick getaway, it may be interesting to learn that hedgehogs can run fast, but not as fast as they are portrayed in popular video games. They can only reach speeds of up to 4mph, which is much slower than foxes and other natural predators, which begs the question of why hedgehogs run in the first place.
Read on to find the answer to this question and more information on hedgehogs and their athletic capabilities.
Hedgehogs are spiny mammals that are naturally found foraging in gardens and grassy areas in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
They were also introduced into New Zealand in the 19th century to make British settlers feel more at home. Since then, they have flourished but are now considered a pest and something of a threat to local wildlife.
Although there are no surviving species of hedgehog found in the US, the extinct Amphechinus breed was once found there before it died out.
Most hedgehogs are nocturnal, sleeping for approximately 18 hours a day. They feed primarily on insects but these omnivores will also devour certain mushrooms, plants, and vegetables. Although many do hibernate, not all hedgehogs do: it is dependent on temperature and food availability.
In the wild, hedgehogs live between 2 and 7 years depending on the size of the species: larger species typically live longer than smaller ones. In captivity, they are expected to live 8 to 10 years because they are not threatened by predators.
Stamina Over Speed
If you’ve seen a hedgehog, it might be surprising to learn that they only reach speeds of around 4 miles per hour, which is the equivalent of a very brisk walk for humans and is considerably slower than other animals of the same size. Guinea pigs, for example, can reach speeds of 6 miles per hour.
While hedgehogs do not run especially quickly for their size, they make up for it in stamina. They cover 8 miles or more in an evening, foraging for food: especially impressive when you consider they are only usually awake for 6 hours.
Why Do Hedgehogs Run?
Hedgehogs are prey to animals including foxes and badgers, but they run at speeds of 30 and 15 miles per hour respectively, so it is unlikely that hedgehogs run as a means of getting away from those predators. Other predators include birds of prey, which can easily catch an animal moving at such slow speeds.
It is more likely that they run to catch their prey. Hedgehogs eat insects like beetles, worms, and caterpillars, and a 4 mph top speed is ample to be able to catch any of these little critters.
What’s more, while a 4 mph top speed may not be enough to get away from a swooping owl or a chasing fox, it is better to move quickly from one piece of cover to the next.
Do Hedgehogs Like Running?
When awake, hedgehogs are active little mammals: running comes instinctively to them. That’s why pet hedgehog enclosures tend to have running wheels and some owners offer them a ball in which they can charge around the room in safety. Ensure that the wheel is a suitable size for your hedgehog: typically, this means it needs to be at least 10.5” in diameter, and preferably 12”.
Do Hedgehogs Poop When They Run Fast?
Hedgehogs have a fast metabolism so they poop a lot and they don’t care where they do it. While it might seem like they concentrate their pooping efforts in the wheel, this isn’t necessarily true, but it is a problem if they do it consistently. The little pellets can rattle around while your hedgehog is active and, unfortunately, this tends to be at night when you’re asleep.
You can, at least to some extent, litter train a hedgehog. Don’t put the wheel in the cage straight away and first allow your hog to develop a litter routine before adding the wheel.
Can Hedgehogs Jump?
Hedgehogs are surprisingly nimble little animals. They might not run especially fast but they do cover long distances in a night. They can also ball themselves up and roll away, and they can climb, although it does get them into trouble sometimes because their center of gravity means that they struggle to climb back down inclines.
Like any animal with legs, they can also jump, although they do so very rarely and only when they have good reason to do so.
How Fast Can A Hedgehog Run?
Hedgehogs are not quick runners but they are resolute and can cover more than one mile every hour that they are awake during the night. While they might look lightning fast, they can only reach speeds of about 4 miles per hour, which is a lot slower than similarly sized animals: the guinea pig reaches speeds of 6 miles per hour, for example. When called upon, they can also roll into a ball, climb, and even jump.
Featured Image Credit: Erik_Karits, Pixabay