Hedgehog Creature Feature

posted on 1/10/24

By Naturalist Raina Genaw

African pygmy hedgehogs are native to Africa and are not an Iowa-native species. In Iowa, pet hedgehogs are captive-bred. Our educational hedgehog, Olive, was adopted from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa in 2023.

In the wild, hedgehogs eat a variety of insects, worms, snails, small animals, and carrion (A.K.A. roadkill). In captivity, hedgehogs like Olive are fed a special pelleted diet supplemented with cat food and are occasionally given worms, unseasoned meat, and fruit or vegetables as a treat. Olive has a keen sense of smell that she uses to find food. When she is exploring a new area, you can often hear her loudly sniffing and grunting like a pig to take in all of the new smells. 

Olive running on wheel
Olive runs on her wheel for several hours each night.

African hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning they are mostly active at night. They prefer to live alone, without any other hedgehogs nearby. Educational hedgehog Olive spends most days burrowed underneath her log, sleeping peacefully. At night, she eats, drinks, and plays with her toys. Wild hedgehogs can run up to 6 miles in one night, and Olive imitates this behavior by running on her wheel for several hours each night.

Olive in her spiky ball form
When threatened or stressed, Olive puffs out her spines and hisses.

When threatened, hedgehogs hiss and curl up into a ball, exposing their spiky backs to any potential enemies. Their spikes act like armor, protecting them from attackers. While porcupines also use spikes for defense, they are not closely related to hedgehogs. Close relatives of hedgehogs include moles, shrews, and moonrats.

Olive is currently on display at the Tama County Nature Center located at Otter Creek Lake & Park. Stop in during business hours to say hello!

 

More News

How Do Iowa Animals Survive the Cold?

posted 2/6/24 · Conservation How do big blizzards and freezes affect Iowa wildlife? Cold weather is natural, and animals have found many ways to adapt!

2024 Conservation Summer Jobs

posted 1/22/24 · Conservation The Tama County Conservation Board is currently hiring seasonal staff for Summer 2024! If you are interested in stepping into the world of conservation and environmental education, now is your chance!

Hedgehog Creature Feature

posted 1/10/24 · Conservation Have you met educational hedgehog Olive? Say "hello" to her at the Nature Center during your next trip to Otter Creek Lake & Park!

Which Iowa Winter Animal are You?

posted 12/18/23 · Conservation Iowa animals have found plenty of ways to survive our harsh winters. How do you compare? Read about animal adaptations and take a short quiz to discover which winter animal you are!

5 Easy Ways to Help Birds in Tama County

posted 11/27/23 · Conservation Did you know that birds eat billions of insects each year, help remove roadkill, pollinate crops, and reduce mouse and rat populations? Winter can be a trying time for our local birds, and they need our support now more than ever!

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive notifications when board meetings and agendas are posted, job openings are announced, and more.

Customize Your Notifications
Tama County logo (white) Contact Us Department Hours Holidays