Babies lose baby teeth, and so do baby animals — including baby hedgehogs, like the nature center’s animal ambassador Luna.
However, hedgehogs also lose something else as they grow — their quills!
Baby hedgehogs are born with spines, but at that time their skin is swollen and covers their spines so that they do not injure the mother during birthing. The swelling decreases over a few days and the spines are revealed and others begin to grow in.
As early as four weeks, the baby hedgehog’s spines may begin to fall out as new adult spines take their places. That process continues for the next six months or so until all of the baby spines are replaced with thicker adult spines, just like human baby teeth progressively fall out to make room for adult teeth.
During this phase, a baby hedgehog will be sensitive, because the new quills growing in are thicker and stretch the follicle, making it uncomfortable for the hedgehog. It might be grumpy, moody or antisocial during this time.
Some hedgehogs have multiple “quillings” throughout their lives. Some have a second quilling around age one, although it could be so minute that an owner doesn’t notice it. They will also lose quills throughout their lives, just like humans shed hair. Those lost quills will be replaced with new ones.
The quilling process is always gradual. There will never be a time that a hedgehog has bald spots or goes bald, unless some other medical issue is at play.
Al and Wally, named for conservationist Alfred Wallace, are two Great Plains toads (Anaxyrus cognatus) that live at the Dickinson County Nature Center. Four different toads live in Iowa — Great Plains toad, American toad, Fowler’s toad and Woodhouse’s toad — and they can be difficult to tell apart. Here are a few key ways…Read More
We came in to work to find Pinki the tarantula on her back in her desert aquarium. Like many people who see a tarantula in this position, our first thought was “Is she dead?” She wasn’t moving. Her legs were wide apart. She was on her back. She certainly appeared dead. However, even naturalists have…Read More
Sy the tiger salamander is huge. The Dickinson County Nature Center has two tiger salamander animal ambassadors, named Manny and Sy, and they are members of the largest land salamander species in North America. Tiger salamanders usually grow 7-13 inches long, but Sy is around 14 inches in length from head to tail. That’s one…Read More
If you find a snakeskin in the wild, it’s usually inside out! When it sheds, it slithers out of its old skin, like pulling a sock off your foot, so it ends up inside out! Watch the video for more information on how and why snakes shed their skin. Check out more of our animal…Read More
Pretty much every time that we pick up Honey the hedgehog, she rolls into a ball. Her pointy spines stand erect, and you can’t see any other part of her. (See a video of Honey the hedgehog here.) The reason that hedgehogs do this is the same reason that turtles will pull their appendages into…Read More
Teddy — named after conservationist former President Theodore Roosevelt — is an ornate box turtle. That means he is an omnivore and will eat both plants and animals, just like humans! See naturalist Ashley Hansen feed Teddy and learn what his favorite foods are in this video! You can also see more Teddy videos on…Read More