Curtin, Charles B. Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.
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The common name for members of the insectivorous mammalian family Erinaceidae (order Eulipotyphla) generally characterized by spines on their back and sides. Hedgehogs belong to the mammalian family Erinaceidae in the order Eulipotyphla (formerly, order Insectivora or Erinaceomorpha, which has now been abandoned as a taxonomic entity). Erinaceids are subdivided into two subfamilies: the spiny hedgehog group (subfamily Erinaceinae), which comprises 5 genera and 16 species, including the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus); and the hairy hedgehogs, moonrats, or gymnures (subfamily Echinosoricinae, Galericinae, or Hylomyinae), which contain 5 genera and 8 species of long-tailed animals that lack spines. The typical spiny hedgehog has well-developed eyes and a rudimentary to moderately long tail. In most species, there are five toes on each foot; however, in some species, these are reduced to four on the hind feet. The spines can be erected by strong muscles, and they serve as a protection for the naked or hairy belly, head, and limbs when the animal rolls itself into a ball. See also: Insectivora; Mammalia
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