European hedgehog in Sussex, England
© Jules Cox/Minden Picture
Look, but don't touch. European hedgehog in Sussex, England
Join us for a trip across the pond as we take a moment to examine the prickly European hedgehog. Our friend in today's photo is in Sussex, England, but European hedgehogs are widespread across the continent. They're thought to be the largest and heaviest of the hedgehog family. A nocturnal creature, the hedgehog can often be found in gardens snacking on its preferred diet of insects.
The European hedgehog is sometimes considered an invasive species. In New Zealand, for example, the hedgehog has no natural predators and threatens the food supply of native bush birds. But it's hard to blame such a cute little creature. With roughly 6,000 spines on its back, the hedgehog was, at one point, used as an unofficial symbol for NATO, chosen because it's a peaceful animal that has a rather pointed defense system.