Hedgehog added to collection at Westport's Earthplace

Quilliam the hedgehog was added to the collection at The Earthplace in Westport in June 2021.

Quilliam the hedgehog was added to the collection at The Earthplace in Westport in June 2021.

Contributed/The Earthplace

WESTPORT — Quilliam has had a bumpy path to his new home at Earthplace in Westport.

The hedgehog — who is roughly 2 years old, estimated Becky Newman, Earthplace director of nature programs — was rescued not once, by twice.

“Quilliam was someone’s pet,” Newman said. “He was living in someone’s college dorm and they could no longer care for him.”

Quilliam was taken in by someone else, who also was unable to care for him. In mid-June, Quilliam was brought to the Earthplace, a nonprofit that combines science, conservation and education to encourage people to protect the planet’s wildlife. Quilliam is now the only hedgehog in the facility’s Animal Hall, which provides a variety of educational programs.

Until recently, Quilliam was quarantined, which Newman said is standard procedure for new animals coming into Earthplace, to make sure they aren’t carrying pests, disease or other harmful elements. But now he is proudly on display, for all to learn about.

“It’s a way for us to talk to us about mammals,” Newman said, adding that hedgehogs are mainly found in the United States as pets, and aren’t typically found in the wild in this country.

Instead, they are mainly found across Asia, Africa and Europe. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, there are about 17 species of hedgehogs, and they have roughly 6,000 quills.

They typically grow to 7 to 9 inches in length and can weigh about 21 ounces. Hedgehogs live about three to four years in the wild and can live up to about 11 years in captivity. Their diets include insects, earthworms, snails and slugs.

When scared or upset, hedgehogs often curl into a tight ball, with their spiky quills displayed.

Newman said everyone seems excited to have Quilliam as a new addition to the Earthplace.

“It’s always fun to see different animals,” she said. “We had someone come in recently just to see him.”

Earthplace is at 10 Woodside Lane in Westport. For information, email info@earthplace.org or call 203-557-4400.