The African Pygmy Hedgehog is a small mammal with a long snout. The higher a part of its body is roofed with quick, protecting spines. Spines are white on the bases and ideas and black within the center. The face and underside of the hedgehog are coated in mushy white or brown fur.
African Pygmy Hedgehog profile
The African pygmy hedgehog or four-toed hedgehog is the smallest of the hedgehog species and is the species usually offered for pet commerce. You can discover these pets in a wide selection of color patterns like salt and pepper, snowflake, and cinnamon.
Pet hedgehogs are quiet, lively, entertaining, and require plenty of care. They make great companion pets, nonetheless, as nocturnal animals, you’ll need to feed and look after them within the night hours.
They occupy quite a lot of habitats, together with grasslands, woodlands, bush, thickets, plains, agricultural land, and even suburban gardens (they’ve additionally been encountered in stables and meals storage buildings in suburban areas and areas the place livestock are saved, which are a magnet for bugs).
Atelerix prefers elevations at or beneath 2000 meters and requires areas with dry soils; they aren’t encountered in marshes or dense forests.
Important habitat options embody a plethora of shelters to select from (they often change their resting site every day), together with matted grass, leaf litter, rocky crevices, termitaries (termite mounds), or previously-dug burrows. They are inclined to desire grassy areas with light undergrowth.
Active principally at night, these creatures are a very good pet for somebody who has a 9-to-5 job. They are solitary animals that don’t crave human interplay or cuddling. They take time to get used to people however will be hand tamed with fixed, mild dealing with and interplay.
At first, this discerning pet could curl right into a spiky ball once you attempt to choose it up. Be patient and cradle the ball in your hand, permitting your hedgehog to unroll itself and start exploring in its personal time.
When your hedgehog realizes you imply no hurt, it’ll get more lively, and its spines will flatten out. They will not be identified to chunk; their spines are their most important type of protection.
Most hedgehogs have an attention-grabbing “self-anointing” behavior, which will be off-putting for people who witness it for the first time. When a hedgehog will get launched to a brand new scent or meal, it begins to froth on the mouth and unfold its saliva throughout its back.
No one is totally positive about why hedgehogs do that, and a few do it more than others. But, it’s not a trigger for concern. Experts assume it might be a stress launch or a type of safety.
Gestation lasts 30 to 40 days and litters range in size from two to 10 younger with females sometimes having one litter per year. Neonates (infants) are born blind and bare; white spines emerge after two to 3 days.
A full-grown African Pygmy Hedgehog is between 6 and 11 inches long and weighs 18-25 ounces (510-708 grams).
African Pygmy Hedgehog Adaptations
If a hedgehog is threatened, it may well roll right into a ball in order that its protecting spines utterly encompass the surface of its body.
Wild hedgehogs depend upon their wonderful senses of listening to and scent to keep away from predators. Their long snouts are additionally very efficient at finding meals.
Hedgehogs have a natural immunity to the venom of sure animals. This permits them to eat small venomous snakes and arthropods.
If a hedgehog encounters an object that produces an unfamiliar scent, it’ll lick the item and type a frothy paste inside its mouth. It then makes use of its tongue to unfold the paste over its spines.
This is assumed to camouflage the hedgehog’s natural scent, and to discourage predators who will usually keep away from the brand new and probably irritating substance. This behavior is known as “anointing”.
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African Pygmy Hedgehog Behavior
The four-toed hedgehog is solitary and solely comes along with conspecifics (animals of identical species) through the breeding season. These animals are territorial and can interact in aggressive behavior if their territory is encroached upon.
In a territorial assault, the animal will erect the spines around its head and snort, grunt, hiss, and butt heads with the offending particular person.
Spines are additionally used as a defensive mechanism when evading predators; the hedgehog’s first line of protection is to roll up right into a ball, spines erect at opposing angles forming a protecting barrier across the animal. Atelerix has been identified to assault predators by erecting its spines and lunging at its attacker.
African pygmy hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal however will be crepuscular (lively at daybreak and nightfall).
During excessive climate circumstances, they are going to aestivate (a type of summer season hibernation initiated by excessive warmth whereby they are going to go into hiding, decrease their metabolic fee, and subsist off of fats reserves till environmental circumstances enhance).
Vocalizations embody a repertoire of snorts, hisses, grunts, and twitters. During courtship, males serenade females with a birdlike call, and she’s going to reply with hisses, snorts, and evasive actions.
Like all hedgehogs, the African pygmy displays an attention-grabbing behavior often known as self-anointing. This curious behavior often happens when the animal encounters an irritating substance; the hedgehog forming a bubbly foam substance in its mouth and subsequently rubs the combination over its spines.
One particular person was noticed chewing the parotid glands of a toad and self-anointing with the poisonous combination (maybe protection towards predators?).
The true cause for self-anointing remains to be unknown to scientists, however, it has been hypothesized that it’s used to draw consideration, males from females and juveniles from their mom.
Although its particular origin is unknown, scientists know that that is an innate (instinctual) behavior because it has been noticed in juveniles whose eyes haven’t but opened.
African Pygmy Hedgehog Diet
The hedgehog is an insectivore and primarily eats bugs (termites, beetles) and different arthropods (spiders, scorpions, millipedes).
They do eat quite a lot of different meals as nicely, together with invertebrates (snails, earthworms, slugs, land crabs) small vertebrates (snakes, lizards, frogs, younger birds, and eggs), and plant materials (roots, fruits, fungi). Some have even been noticed consuming venomous snakes!
Prey is usually positioned by sight, scent, and sound and will be positioned so far as four cm deep within the soil. Live prey is snapped up into the mouth and chewed noisily adopted by muzzle licking. Larger stay prey is shaken to demise before consumption. Atelerix will readily eat carrion, and in suburban areas, they’ve been noticed scavenging street killed carcasses.
African Pygmy Hedgehog Reproduction
African pygmy hedgehogs don’t have any obvious mating season and breed all through the year. They change into sexually mature at roughly one year of age.
Between Eight and 18 days, the eyes will open and the white, toddler spines are shed and changed with spines of the adult coloration. At 40 days the younger will accompany the mom on foraging journeys and can eat growing quantities of strong meals till they’re utterly weaned.
The gestation interval for the African Pygmy Hedgehog is about 35 days. Young hedgehogs (referred to as “hedgehoglets” or “hoglets”) are born in litters containing 2-10 people. Hedgehoglets are born with mushy white spines.
At the time of delivery, the younger hedgehog’s pores and skin is swollen and full of fluid, masking the spines in order that the mom just isn’t injured through the birthing process. Within a number of days, the swelling decreases and new, darker spines start to develop in. Females may give delivery to a number of litters per year.
African Pygmy Hedgehog Care as a pet
Wild hedgehogs are native to abandon and savanna areas in Africa. They are nocturnal animals that sleep in burrows throughout the day and search for meals at night.
In the dry season, when the availability of bugs is scarce, the hedgehogs enter a dormant state through which their bodies decelerate and so they stay off of saved fats.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs are additionally popular pets within the United States, though there are some components of the nation the place it’s unlawful to maintain them.
Pet hedgehogs require a heat atmosphere with enough room to train, a sleeping space the place they’ll really feel protected and safe, and a high-protein diet containing quite a lot of meal gadgets.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs can stay 8-10 years in captivity and 2-3 years within the wild.
African Pygmy Hedgehog Diet
African Pygmy Hedgehogs feed totally on bugs within the wild. They additionally eat small reptiles and amphibians (resembling snakes and frogs), eggs, invertebrates resembling scorpions, spiders, and bugs, and small mammals and birds.
A small part of their diet consists of plant materials together with fruit, seeds, and nuts. The African Pygmy Hedgehogs at Cosley Zoo are fed fruits, greens, crickets, mealworms, and a processed insectivore (insect-eater) diet for a balanced diet.
African Pygmy Hedgehog Facts
Hedgehogs are fairly vocal and may make quite a lot of sounds, resembling hisses, growls, squeals, and chirps.
The spines of an adult hedgehog are everlasting and can’t simply be eliminated without damage to the animal. However, younger hedgehogs do lose the spines they’re born with, changing them with adult spines in a process referred to as “quilling”.
Long before Groundhog Day started, the ancient Romans are thought to have celebrated “Hedgehog Day”, utilizing a hedgehog to foretell the approaching of spring the identical means we do with groundhogs at present.
North Americans saved the custom however modified the animal forecaster as a result of there are not any native hedgehogs in this part of the world.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) lists the African pygmy hedgehog as a “lower risk-least concern.” These animals are frequent in areas of appropriate habitat however not usually seen as a result of their nocturnal habits.
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