What's Going On?

Prickly pals

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 7 – 9

Science topics:

Animals, including humans, Living things and their habitats

Spark a conversation with this video showing a spiny little mammal that likes to hang out in our gardens and hedgerows. This activity is great for describing observations and applying ideas in unfamiliar contexts.

Run the activity

1. You’re going to watch a short video. The aim isn't to find right answers, it's to explore ideas and find out what they know.

  • Do they know what might happen based on the image?

2. After you've watched the video, lead a discussion with your class:

  • What do the class notice about the hedgehog as it moves around the garden?
  • Can they think of any reasons why the hedgehog rolls into a ball?
  • What do the class think hedgehogs might eat and how might they find this food?
  • Do the class know anything about the challenges hedgehogs face?

3. Ask the class to describe what they saw using only one word.

Background science

Hedgehogs, like the one in this video, are spiny mammals native to the UK and Europe. They’re nocturnal, which means they are most active at night and sleep for much of the day. If you keep your eyes peeled you might see them in the daytime as they look for sticks and leaves to build their nests with. Their bodies are covered in flexible spines and they have a long snout, which helps them hunt out tasty insects and berries. As you can see in the video they’re also partial to a bit of cat food!
When a hedgehog feels threatened it will roll itself up into a spiky ball to protect its soft underside and ward off predators, such as badgers. A prickly dinner is not very inviting! Towards the end of the video you’ll see the hedgehog licking its spines, a bit like a cat cleaning itself. This is known as self-anointing and the hedgehogs do this when they experience new or unusual smells. They can twist and contort themselves into lots of positions to reach their backs and you’ll see this one toppling over!  

Take it further

Although hedgehogs used to be very common in the UK their numbers are dwindling. There are lots of things we can do to help them out. If you’ve got gardens on your grounds why not have a go at making them more hedgehog friendly with this brilliant guide from the Wildlife Trust. Hedgehogs can travel up to a mile every single night and to do this safely they need to go through gardens rather than on the roads where they’re at risk from cars. Hedgehog Street has got some great advice about creating Hedgehog Highways!

Fancy some more activities about interesting animals? Take a look at this Odd octopus What’s Going On. Or, have a think about some slight less familiar habitats with this Odd One Out activity.

Video credit: BBC Gardeners’ World/ Immediate Media