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Any of 14 species of insectivores in the family Erinaceidae. They eat primarily insects and other arthropods but will also eat plant material. The nine species of spiny hedgehogs have short, barbless spines on the back, a round body, small head, pointed face, and little or no tail. Species range from 4 to 17 in. (10 to 44 cm) long. Spiny hedgehogs are native to Great Britain, northern Africa, and Asia; one species was introduced into New Zealand. The five species of gymnure, or hairy hedgehog, are Asian. They have coarse guard hairs but no spines and are extremely malodorous. The common gymnure may be 18 in. (46 cm) long and have a 12-in. (30-cm) tail. See alsoporcupine.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on hedgehog, visit Britannica.com.