Erinaceus is a genus that holds four species of hedgehogs that can be found in Europe, including E. amurensis and E. concolor. The species within this genus have a large range that extends throughout Europe and the Middle East and includes areas of China and Russia. Members of the Erinaceus genus reach an average body length between 7.8 and 11.8 inches and a weight of up to 2.6 pounds. Like all hedgehogs, their most notable feature is their flexible spines, which cover the entire body.
As is typical to hedgehogs, members of this genus are nocturnal and will spend the daytime hours resting in a burrow or in shrubs. When threatened, hedgehogs will roll into a ball and extend their spines, an action that is made possible by the loose skin on the back. The diet of members of Erinaceus includes vegetables, fruits, fungi, and small invertebrates. Hibernation is common in these hedgehogs, during which time they will adjust their body temperature to within one degree of the temperature in their environment.
Erinaceus hedgehogs are solitary in nature, only coming together during the breeding season. It is thought that they are polygynous and after breeding, females are pregnant for thirty to forty days. Females give birth to up to ten young, although two to five is common. Young are born blind and do not develop their protective spines until at least three weeks of age. Weaning occurs at four to six weeks of age and sexual maturity is reached at about twelve months of age. In captivity, members of this genus can live between two and five years, but the average lifespan of wild individuals can be up to ten years.
Image Caption: Erinaceus europaeus. Credit: DarkAngel/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)