Can hedgehogs attack humans? I absolutely love this question. Believe it or not this is something that is actually searched for on the internet. Not often, but people do ask this question.
That’s what I love about the internet. People can and do ask the weirdest and most random questions. When I searched for it I could not find a decent answer in any one single post. So I’ve written this one to answer the question myself.
So can hedgehogs attack humans? Technically hedgehogs can attack humans, although this isn’t very likely. If they feel threatened they will roll into a ball and push out their spikes for protection. They may also make a loud hissing sound. They are generally more scared of humans than we are of them and will avoid confrontation.
So the short answer to the seemingly odd question of can hedgehogs attack humans is not as exciting as we would think. Hedgehogs are usually solitary creatures, and more than likely will only come in to contact with humans if they are kept as pets.
This is not the only odd question I found that people searched for a lot. I wrote a whole post answering the question can hedgehogs eat pumpkin as this is often asked too, as well as can hedgehogs eat rice?
To find out more about hedgehogs attacking humans, including a real life example keep reading!
Can Hedgehogs Attack Humans?
Ok so first off let’s talk about an attack. Google’s English Dictionary is provided by Oxford Languages. They define the verb of attack as:
take aggressive military action against (a place or enemy forces) with weapons or armed force.“in February the Germans attacked Verdun”
an aggressive and violent act against a person or place.“he was killed in an attack on a checkpoint”
So can hedgehogs attack humans? Well they certainly won’t be taking aggressive military action as suggested by the definition of the verb given above.
So let’s take the definition of the noun. Can a hedgehog commit a violent act against a person or place (for the purposes of this post a human)?
It is conceivable that a hedgehog could commit a violent act toward a human, certainly if it felt threatened. I am however starting to feel a bit sorry for the little guys now though.
I’m painting a picture of some wild beast that commits heinous acts against humans for possibly no reason. This really is not the case.
Attacking With Speed
Most types of hedgehogs generally sleeps for around 18 hours a day. They tend to come out at night to look for food. It is more likely that you won’t see one than bumping into one in your garden.
They are sleepy creatures, but they can move faster than you think. At top speed a common hedgehog can run around 4mph.
This can only be sustained for short bursts. This totally blows the image of Sonic the Hedgehog flying around everywhere right out of the water. Although did you know that hedgehogs can actually swim?
So in terms of attacking a human, a hedgehog is not really going to charge at you and chase you around the garden. Hedgehogs are generally shy creatures that will avoid humans and other animals. However, if they smell or sense a threat, they will takes steps to protect themselves.
They are more likely to run away from a threat than towards it. Their names comes from their nature of foraging around hedges and bushes for insects to eat. I think we humans are fairly safe from attack.
A Hedgehogs Defence Against Threats
If a hedgehog does feel threatened, its first line of defence is to curl up into a ball and thrust out its spikes. A hedgehog is covered with between 3000 and 5000 quills. These quills are extremely sharp. A hedgehog is more likely to do this if it is attacked by something smaller such as a rat.
A hedgehog will use its stomach muscles to pull its head and feet into its body and curl up into a ball. When the spikes come out it relies on looking more threatening. They also prevent animals or humans from picking them up with their hands or mouths.
While a hedgehog can attack a human, it certainly isn’t likely to do it for no reason. If a hedgehog does charge you (yikes) they will normally stop if you approach them.
At this point (no pun intended) they will either curl up into a ball or hiss at you to warn you off!
Do Hedgehogs Attack Humans?
So we’ve established that technically the answer to the question can hedgehogs attack humans is yes, albeit it unlikely. But are there examples of these fierce beasts going after humans for no good reason?
Now the answer to every question these days is only one Google search away. So I did just this. I Googled (yes Googled is a real word these days and the past tense of the verb Google) ‘Do hedgehogs attack humans’?
Sure enough one of the answers in the top ten on the first page of Google is a story of a hedgehog attacking a 3 year old girl.
Now I’m not taking anything away from how awful this must have been for the family involved. However in typical tabloid fashion the article really manages to sensationalise the nature of the attack. The hedgehog is called a
which I would suggest is a little strong. Yes it is a creature that lives in the wild, but is it a wild creature, senselessly attacking little girls?
Yes it is prickly by nature, and probably was trespassing a bit! It’s not like a small hedgehog understands property law really!
Basically the hedgehog managed to find its way into the house, probably at night and managed to climb the stairs.
Upon finding a sleeping child it would appear that for no good reason it bit her foot. Is this an attack? Maybe. But I seriously doubt in the hedgehogs mind she was thinking:
Oh look a human. Let’s attack it!
So there appears to be proof that hedgehogs do in fact attack humans, although I only found this one example. If you are looking after hedgehogs, particularly young ones, they can and will bite.
This is normally because they mistake your fingers for food while you are feeding them. A baby hedgehogs teeth are generally not very sharp, and this shouldn’t really hurt too much.
An adult hedgehog will have a much harder bite with fully developed teeth. If they latch on to you it will be a bit of a fight to get them off.
If they bite down hard enough they can draw blood for sure! Again this is probably only going to happen if they feel particularly threatened or if you wake them up from their peaceful slumber.
Are Hedgehogs Dangerous To Humans?
So are hedgehogs fierce creatures that we should all be terrified of? Absolutely not! However, hedgehogs, like all creatures that live in the wild do carry a certain level of threat with them. Just not the charging at you and attacking you in a military way kind of threat.
The quills or spikes of a hedgehog are certainly sharp enough to pierce the skin of a regular human being. I for one have no intention of testing this out, but it certainly appears to be true.
If this happens it can cause itching to the skin and can cause you to come out in a rash. The spikes of a hedgehog can carry bacteria, and if this gets into your blood stream it can cause a fever and stomach pains too.
Its is well known that creatures living in the wild such as hedgehogs will carry ticks. These ticks feed on the blood of hedgehogs, and they are very difficult for a hedgehog to get rid of.
If a tick manages to transfer onto a human and is able to penetrate the skin, it can cause nasty bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Ticks can also carry lyme disease.
This is a bacterial infection transferred from the tick to humans. This can develop into a nasty rash with fever like symptoms.
On top of this hedgehogs can also carry worms, lungworm and ringworm.
How To Stay Safe If You Are Handling Hedgehogs
Can hedgehogs attack humans if they are kept as pets? Many people these days keep hedgehogs as pets, so they are perfectly safe to handle if this is done correctly.
There may also be times when you find a hedgehog in the garden, perhaps trapped somewhere and in need of assistance.
As I’ve already discovered with the one story I found of hedgehogs attacking humans, they are fierce beasts. There are some things you can do to protect yourself from the common hedgehog.
Do Not Disturb A Sleeping Hedgehog
Do not disturb a hedgehog in its nest while it is sleeping. Especially if it has baby hedgehogs nesting too. This is probably the easiest way to start a fight with a hedgehog, and one that should be avoided.
If you do need to handle a hedgehog, you should always wear gloves. This will protect you from the quills and also incase the hedgehog decides to have a bite of your fingers!
Hand-Washing Is A Must!
Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling a hedgehog. As I said above, they often carry ticks, that in turn carry things such as lyme disease.
Hedgehogs themselves can carry worms, lungworm and ringworm. You don’t want to catch any of these, so always wash your hands throughly with soap and water after handling a hedgehog.
In summary of the seemingly odd question of can hedgehogs attack humans the answer is yes. They can bite humans and can prick them with their quills.
This can often led to rashes and bacterial infections. Despite the one case I found of a hedgehog attacking a human, they are generally friendly creatures.
They will of course look to defend themselves if they feel threatened, but this is usually just done with rolling into a ball or some scary hissing sounds!
If you would like to add anything to this post, or if you yourself have been attacked by a fearsome hedgehog, please drop a comment below!