Are Hedgehogs Clever?
Hedgehogs are increasingly popular pets, and for good reason: these spiny creatures are both adorable and endearingly independent, which is why it’s always interesting to wonder how smart they truly are.
One way to measure intelligence is behavior, and there are several signs that suggest hedgehogs are surprisingly clever. For example, they can choose the best route through familiar locations with minimal effort, and they remember and use various items to their advantage. Hedgehogs are also capable of learning new paths when given a little time and encouragement.
Other behaviors suggest a certain level of intelligence, too. Interestingly, hedgehogs recognize their names and respond by either coming towards the speaker, or if they aren’t in the mood to be petted, they’ll ignore the call or shimmy away to a place where they feel safe.
It’s important to note that hedgehogs don’t just react to their environment; they also actively reason and learn. For instance, when faced with an unfamiliar challenge, hedgehogs are capable of working out a solution through trial and error. For example, when presented with obstacles such as tubes, they can learn to use different strategies to obtain rewards such as food.
Interestingly, this ability to learn and remember isn’t just reserved for physical activities—hedgehogs have also been observed responding to musical patterns, suggesting an awareness of and appreciation for rhythm.
When it comes to social interaction, hedgehogs show an impressive level of empathy. For example, when presented with a new hedgehog, they react to it differently depending on the other hedgehog’s body language. This suggests that hedgehogs can “read” each other to determine their intentions, a behavior that could be seen as an indication of social intelligence.
All in all, hedgehogs show a surprising level of intelligence, from recognizing their names and responding to music, to using trial and error to solve puzzles and demonstrating an understanding of social cues. While they may not be as smart as some of their larger mammalian cousins, they definitely demonstrate intelligence that shouldn’t be overlooked.