Mammal

Hedgehog, African Pygmy

RANGE
Africa. Southern Africa from Senegal to Sudan and Zambia.

HABITAT
Desert and scrub forest.

SIZE
Head/body length 4 – 6 inches.

REPRODUCTION
Gestation period: 34 – 39 days. Litter size ranges from one to six with a mean average of three. At birth the young are born with spines. Immediately after birth the skin begins to shrink, causing the spines to emerge.

DIET
Insectivore (Primarily).
Wild: Invertebrates: earthworms, beetles, earwigs, slugs, millipedes and caterpillars. In addition, they take eggs and young from birds’ nests and will scavenge the remains of any animal found dead.
Zoos: Insectivore pellet diet, mealworms and small amount of fruit.

BEHAVIOR
Solitary animals except during breeding season.

POINTS OF INTEREST

  • The most distinctive feature of hedgehogs is their spines. An average adult carries about 5,000 — each about an inch long, with a needle-sharp point. Spines are actually modified hair, and along the animal’s sides where spines give way to true hair, thin spines or thick stiff hairs can often be found which may show the transition from one to the other. To minimize weight without losing strength, each spine is filled with many small air-filled chambers separated by thin plates.
  • Connected to the base of each spine is a small muscle which is used to pull the spine erect. Normally the muscles are relaxed and the spines are laid flat along the back. If threatened, a hedgehog will often not immediately roll up, but will first simply erect the spines and wait for the danger to pass. When erected the spines stick out at a variety of different angles, a criss-crossing over one another and supporting each other to create a virtually impenetrable barrier. Hedgehogs are additionally protected by their ability to curl up into a ball.
  • Is the hedgehog related to the porcupine? No, the hedgehog is an insectivore, related to moles and shrews, while the porcupine is a member of the rodent family. The porcupine is often wrongly referred to as a hedgehog. Both animals have sharp spines as protection, but otherwise are not similar.
  • When the four-toed hedgehog is introduced to a new or particularly strong smell, it will sometimes do what is referred to as self-anointing. It creates a large amount of frothy saliva and spreads it onto its spines. It is thought to be a defensive action, as hedgehogs have been known to self-anoint with poisonous toads.

STATUS
Least Concern by IUCN

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.iucnredlist.org