Where Can Hedgehogs Be Found? (Wild and Domesticated!) 

Hedgehogs, along with moonrats, shrews, and moles, belong to the Erinaceidae family. They are mammals and not rodents. Also, despite their similarities in appearance, hedgehogs are not closely related to porcupines.

The species are soft and floofy when relaxed, but they raise their 3,000-5,000 quills into a prickly position once threatened. What countries are they native to, and in which have they been introduced as pets? Floofmania has compiled a comprehensive list!

What Part Of The World Are Hedgehogs Native To?

Hedgehogs got their name foraging around hedges for food and making little snorting noises while at it. 

Listen to a hedgehog snorting or “huffing” like a little pig:

The living seventeen species of Hedgehogs are native to Africa, Asia, and Europe. They have more recently been  introduced to the United States and New Zealand. 

North America did once have its native genus, the Amphechinus. Unfortunately, it has been extinct for millions of years.

Where In Europe Can Hedgehogs Be Found?

Hedgehogs are native to Europe, specifically the Erinaceus europaeus or European hedgehog. They can be found in the wild in most countries on the continent.

The Berne Convention (also known as the Bern Convention) identified the European hedgehog as a protected species. Countries who signed the agreement agree that the species may not be captured or kept as a pet in their territories.

These countries include all member states of the Council of Europe, the European Union, and a few other states. 

What European Countries Are Hedgehogs Native To?

Here is a list of European countries where wild hedgehogs can be found natively, with some additional information:

  • Austria

There are two species of hedgehogs found in the wild in Austria: the Northern White-breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus) and the Brown-breasted Hedgehog or European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). The Federal Environment Agency classifies the European hedgehog as “potentially endangered.”

  • Belgium

While Belgians once spotted the European hedgehog in abundance, their numbers have been decreasing at an alarming rate over the past few decades. The species is the number one roadkill victim of the country. They are also losing access to their staple food – insects – due to humans’ aggressive use of insecticide, forcing hedgehogs to eat other things that are unsuitable or even deadly to them.

  • Croatia

The European hedgehog population in Croatia is still relatively stable. The country lists their conservation status as a species of “least concern.” They are still commonly found in gardens, happily munching away on garden pests.

  • Czech Republic

The Czech Republic treats the European hedgehog as a protected species and has many shelters that care for the little spiky mammal. The shelters are constantly on the look out for hedgehogs who have gotten into human-related accidents, such as getting hit by vehicles, lawnmowers, or garden tools.

The European hedgehogs who live in the Czech Republic should not be confused with the “Czech hedgehog” – a military anti-tank obstacle defense!

  • Denmark

Hedgehogs are generally still protected and numerous throughout Denmark, and most people are glad to welcome them in their yards for free, natural pest control.

However, a recent study by the University of Southern Denmark on Danish hedgehogs revealed that the species carry the bacteria mecC-MRSA in their snouts! MRSA is a bacteria that usually causes serious skin infections but occasionally can cause other more severe infections such as pneumonia. 

Citizens are being cautioned against handling wild hedgehogs in case of a transfer, and studies are being done on hedgehogs in other countries to see if their local hedgehogs carry the same microorganism.

  • Estonia

Two species of hedgehog are commonly found in Estonia: the European and the northern white-breasted hedgehog. Based on collected data, scientists have specified that the northern white-breasted hedgehog is the predominant species in Southern Estonia. 

One blogger once wrote an opinion piece as to why they thought hedgehogs should be the national animal of Estonia!

  • France

Since April 1981, France has bestowed complete protection on French hedgehogs. Authorities can issue offenders a penalty of imprisonment of up to one year, €15,000 in fines, plus confiscation of any objects used when committing the offense (vehicles, weapons, etc.).

Still, the French hedgehog dwindled to one-third of its original population size in the past twenty years, with an estimated 2 million killed yearly due to natural and human-related causes.

  • Germany

The Federal Nature Conservation Act of Germany protects hedgehogs. The species is abundant but showing a slow decline in numbers. German citizens are not allowed to keep hedgehogs as pets but can care for them if injured or sick, as long as they are released back into the wild afterward.

  • Italy

The hedgehog is considered a protected species in Italy, and some citizens have set up dedicated “hedgehog hospitals” to care for them.

A few years ago, scientists in Italy uncovered a fossil of a giant hedgehog ancestor (the Deinogalerix masinii) from 10-7 million years ago!

  • Latvia

Hedgehogs are native to Latvia, along with bats, beavers, weasels, and deer. Latvia has solid preservation efforts, and many endangered species in other countries still have healthy population sizes in the country.

  • Luxembourg

Luxembourg faces the same problem of shrinking hedgehog numbers as a few other European countries. They encourage their citizens to leave patches of their yards unmowed for places for hedgehogs to hide and insects to thrive.

  • Netherlands

The Dutch make many efforts to keep track of their hedgehog population sizes, noting its shrinking size and celebrating when growth trends are observed. It’s tricky business counting a tiny mammal that blends well with its environment!

Researchers in the Netherlands are also making careful studies of the effects of their badger population on hedgehogs and the impact of climate change – late winters, in particular – on the species.

  • Norway

Norway classified the hedgehog as “close to threatened” in the Red List of Endangered Species released in 2021. However, they are still commonly found in their natural habitats and some areas where they were released. 

  • Poland

Poland is making efforts to protect its hedgehogs. One city recently voted on the design of hedgehog road crossing signs to warn drivers to slow down. 

Like in Denmark and a few other countries, however, Polish scientists have detected a disease carried by their hedgehogs. In their case, the coronavirus

Be careful when handling hedgehogs and other wild animals.

  • Portugal

Hedgehogs are still common in Portugal and are generally healthy as a species.

  • Russia

Russia hosts the Amur hedgehog (Erinaceus amurensis), also called the Manchurian hedgehog. This species is also found in China and Korea. It is slightly more light-colored than the European hedgehog but behaves quite similarly.

  • Slovenia

Slovenia has high biological diversity and houses 1% of the entire world’s organisms, including the European hedgehog. Unfortunately, they are similarly affected by the general population decline that we see across the continent.

  • Spain

Spain is home to two species of hedgehogs: The European hedgehog and the Algerian hedgehog (Atelerix algirus). Spain and Portugal once considered hedgehogs as delicacies, but the practice of eating them stopped since hedgehogs are now protected.

Interestingly, not all Spanish hedgehogs hibernate! In areas of the country with warmer climates, hedgehogs can eat and forage all year round.

  • Sweden

Wild hedgehogs can be found in Southern and Central Sweden and Norrland, Sweden’s northernmost island, which also happens to be its largest and least populated island. People can also spot hedgehogs along the coast up to Sweden’s border with Finland.

  • Switzerland

The hedgehog is a protected species in Switzerland. They have a “Hedgehog Preservation Society” that runs two hedgehog sanctuaries dedicated to caring for the spiky mammal, one in Maggia and one in the Canton of Ticino in Switzerland.

  • United Kingdom

The UK loves its hedgehogs so much that they have a British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). They also voted the hedgehog as “UK’s favorite mammal” back in 2016. 

However, while it is generally in trouble across Europe, the hedgehog situation in Britain is much worse. The number of hedgehogs in the UK has plummeted over the past two decades to only a quarter of their original number. Currently, they are classified as “Vulnerable to extinction” on the British Red List for Mammals. 

Here is a video from the BBC sharing how you can make your garden safe for hedgehogs: Click here.

What European Countries Were Hedgehogs Introduced To?

  • Finland

Finland is at the northernmost limit of the current distribution area of European hedgehogs and the animal is found both in the suburbs and urban areas such as Helsinki.

One scientist claims that hedgehogs were introduced to Finland over a hundred years ago, brought over by travelers on the assumption that they could kill snakes and rats.

  • Ireland

The hedgehog was introduced to Ireland in the 12th century from Britain or the European continent. Researchers speculate the Normans first brought them for food. They are not considered pests in Ireland but it’s also a species that has been “naturalized” or blended in well with the Irish ecology.

Where In Asia Can Hedgehogs Be Found?

Hedgehogs in Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East

Hedgehogs can be found in the wild in Central Asia and parts of the Middle East. They generally thrive in grassy regions close to bodies of water and forests. The long-eared hedgehog subspecies is the predominant breed in China, Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey.

However, some hedgehogs have made adjustments, and those living in Israel, Afghanistan, and Iran are comfortable in rocky desert terrains. India has its native species of hedgehog, known as the Indian hedgehog.

Here is a video of a desert hedgehog just being a hedgehog:

Hedgehogs in East and Southeast Asia

Hedgehogs are also found elsewhere in Asia, with Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and a few other countries having their native species. Others, including Japan and Thailand, do not have their own species, but hedgehogs are relatively easily found there and are available to keep as pets. 

The one country that stands out in the region is Singapore, where owning a hedgehog is illegal.

Where In Africa Can Hedgehogs Be Found?

There are four identified African hedgehog species with their genus, Atelerix.

Where Is The North African Hedgehog Native To?

The North African hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) or Algerian hedgehog closely resembles the European hedgehog. The African pygmy hedgehog – the typical household pet species – is a cross of the North African hedgehog and the four-toed hedgehog.

It appears to be a safe species due to its wide habitat range and stable population sizes both in the wild and domestic environments.

The species can be found in the wild in the following African (and European) countries:

  • Algeria
  • Libya
  • Malta
  • Morocco
  • Spain
  • Tunisia

Where Is The Southern African Hedgehog Native To?

Southern African hedgehogs can be found anywhere in southern Africa, but prefer grass in sub-tropical woodland regions. They can also frequently be found in suburban gardens.

South African hedgehogs have two natural ranges:

  • The Western Range: Angola and Namibia
  • The Eastern Range: South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.

Where Is The Somali Hedgehog Native To?

As its name suggests, the Somali hedgehog (Atelerix sclateri) is endemic to Somalia and Somaliland. Scientists do not have much data on the species but observe that its habitat and population seem safe.

Where Is The Four-Toed Hedgehog Native To?

The four-toed hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) is found throughout central and eastern Africa. It is the predominant species of hedgehog household pets and has been scattered almost worldwide.

Its natural habitat in Africa tends to be in savannah and croplands and not in heavily forested areas.

Are There Hedgehogs In North America?

Not in the wild but in some homes, yes!

Are There Hedgehogs In The United States?

It was only in the 1980s that the African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris), also known as the four-toed hedgehog, was first brought to the US as a domesticated animal intended to be kept as a pet. The two other species kept as pets are the long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus) and the Indian long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus collaris).

Today, some states allow hedgehogs to be kept as pets, which is still illegal in others. A license is required if you intend to breed hedgehogs. These restrictions help curb the spreading of foot and mouth disease that hedgehogs can carry. 

Hedgehogs are not allowed to be released into the wild.

Click here to view a complete list of US states that allow and US states that prohibit the ownership of hedgehogs, and here for a list of where to buy them in each state!

Are There Hedgehogs In Canada?

As a part of the North American continent, Canada has no wild hedgehogs. They are allowed in most provinces as pets, except for Quebec, which only permits African pygmies and not European hedgehogs. 

As laws are constantly being updated, we recommend checking with your state before deciding to buy or not to buy your “hedgies” (as enthusiasts dub them!).

Are There Hedgehogs In Latin and South America?

Hedgehogs are not native to the South American continent either, so they are not found in the wild.

There is little available information about these countries’ laws regarding hedgehogs as pets. Still, generally speaking, they seem to be permitted if you fill out a zoosanitary declaration form for them. At the very least, this is the case for Brazil.

Are There Hedgehogs In Australia?

None at all. Additionally, hedgehogs are illegal to import and breed in Australia since they are labeled as “exotic” species or possible pests that can potentially bring in diseases.

Australia and New Guinea seemingly have their local “version” of the hedgehog – the echidna. However, though they have the same quills, echidnas are not even remotely related to hedgehogs or porcupines. 

Why Are Hedgehog Considered An Invasive Species In Many Countries?

While cute and generally helpful, hedgehogs have started to be considered pests in areas where it has been introduced.

This is because they meddle with local fauna and flora and lack natural predators to keep their population sizes down. These places, in short, lack the proper resources to manage hedgehog populations because they were never native there, to begin with.

Two such areas that consider hedgehogs as pests include the Western Isles of Scotland and New Zealand.

Author: Bernice Go

Bernice Go is a violinist and orchestra manager by profession but a writer by hobby. She enjoys writing about various topics, from music to animals to self-development. When she isn’t playing the violin or writing, she loves reading, traveling, playing video games, and savoring a good cup of coffee.

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