Even though the International Wildlife Day was at the beginning of March, today I would like to introduce you to two peculiar animals of our region. No, we are not going to talk about the woodpecker, which is actually the symbol of Le Marche (well, I’ve just got the idea for a new post 😉 ) , but of the porcupine and the hedgehog.
They’ve become quite common to see in our region, even though the porcupine is nothing but local.
The porcupine is an African animal that lives mainly in the Sahara and in North Saharan Africa. How did it end up in Italy? It’s all Romans’ fault, who started to bring it back from Africa, mainly for its meat. He is a nocturnal animal and usually live in small family groups: once in pairs he always goes out with his “wife” so it is easy to meet two of them together.
It does not launch the spines as many thinks (it looks like it is not a super power, as it may seems), rather it raises them on the body when they feel threatened. The spines are firmly attached to the body such that at the slightest bump they detach and remain attached to the predator which very often dies from infection.
They move in a quite funny way, it must not be so easy to carry all those spines on their back! If you look carefully during a walk in the countryside, you can also find some of their spines!
Speaking about spines, there is also the hedgehog which is very common in this area, yet so different from the porcupine. When I was a child, I used to find hedgehogs walking in my garden… never have I found a porcupine, though! The way the countryside and the woods are not maintained must have had a big influence on the way these game are approaching even the most crowded areas.
Being a nocturnal animal, the hedgehog usually seeks shelter in bushes, hedges and small burrows. While at night he hunts for insects, eggs and does not disdain even carrion. It prefers low grass, in fact it usually lives in the undergrowth, which is why it is so common to find it resting under the hedges in our gardens. When he feels threatened, he puts his head and legs on his belly to form a ball of thorns that is difficult to attack (and too cute!).
The hedgehog is also the symbol of the Regional Park of Gola della Rossa and Frasassi, where you can also find some other wild species such as foxes, wild boars, deers, martens and even a couple of eagles!