Hedgehogs

Are hedgehogs immune to snake venom?

This is a question that was asked many times before and will be asked again in the future. If you do a quick Google search it will tells you that hedgehogs, squirrels, mongooses, and a few other animals are immune to snake venom. Or at least resistant to it.

Hedgehogs first line of defense are their spines. They can roll up in a very tight ball, leaving no soft tissue areas or skin exposed. Which causes for little to no area left open for a snake to bite and inject venom into their bodies. But that doesn’t make them immune, that is just a very good self-defense mechanism.  

So where does this idea originate from in the first place? For that you must look at wild hedgehogs’ natural diet. They prey on insects, often poisonous insects such as scorpions, millipedes, centipedes, and small snakes. They can be quite ferocious hunters. When hunting snakes, they will typically attack the snake on parts of the tail and up, biting until they can start managing to paralyze the snake, severing the vertebrae. Favoring poisonous insects and snakes had causes for these questions to be asked, and of course it has led to studies being conducted. The studies were mainly conducted with the intend of medical purposes – creating anti-venom serums.

 It was proofed that at least the European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) do have the ability to resist snake venom. I could not find any research papers conducted with other hedgehog species, but the believe is that the results will be similar than those of the European Hedgehog.

The outcome of these studies was that the hedgehog`s (Erinaceus europaeus) blood plasma proofed to contains factor(s) that can neutralize the haemorrhagic activity of the European viper (Vipera berus) venom! The antihemorrhagic factors was indicated as an 21% activity.

See reference below of the studies conducted.

So, back to the main question…

Are hedgehogs immune to snake venom?

Up until a certain amount, yes, they certainly do have a natural resistance to snake venom, by blood plasma and the protection of their “body armor”. Take note that it was stated that if a hedgehog suffers a bite from a viper directly in the face that the animal might succumb from it.

See video of a hedgehog versus snake encounter.

Disclaimer: Never allow your hedgehog to be placed together with any type of snake, scorpion or other potentially dangerous animal. This is for the safety of yourself, your hedgehog, and the other animal.

Article by Lizl van Vreden.

[learn_press_profile]

Lizl

I am Lizl from South Africa, my hedgery`s name is Awesome Krimpvarkies. I am also the founder of the South Africa`s Hedgehog Breeders Association. I enjoy blog writing for The Hedgehog Program, as it enables me to learn more about my passion, namely hedgehogs. In my private time I also assist with rescuing of our indigenous hedgehog`s- The Southern African hedgehog.

2 thoughts on “Are hedgehogs immune to snake venom?

  • This always is such an interesting topic in regards to hedgehogs! They’re so intriguing in so many ways and it never ceases to amaze me. Thank you again for a lovely article Lizl!

    Reply
  • nicola hocking

    I have seen some videos online of hedgehogs deciding they were going to eat snakes and scorpions. I believe they were all in africa, i think. I did not know about the european hedgies. I am loving these blogs as I am learning so much.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

×

Hello!

Click one of our contacts below to chat on WhatsApp.

× How can I help you?