(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The four-toed hedgehog, scientific name Atelerix albiventris, is a species of hedgehog discovered all through a lot of central and eastern Africa.

Four-Toed Hedgehog profile

Populations are typically scattered between appropriate savannah or cropland habitats, avoiding forested areas. The species frequent name is derived from the variety of toes discovered on its hind feet.

Due to its intensive range and stable wild inhabitants, the species is rated because of the least concern by the IUCN. There aren’t any universally agreed subspecies of A. albiventris.

A relaxed Four-Toed Hedgehog has a typically oval form. The limbs are brief and the animal’s round body is low to the ground. The African Pygmy Hedgehog has a really brief tail.

When threatened, the animal has the power to contract a sequence of muscle groups, rolling itself right into a compact ball form, forcing its quills out in all instructions.

In a relaxed state, the quills lie flat towards the animal’s body. The average size of a Four-Toed Hedgehog is roughly 7-9 inches when the animal is relaxed. When rolled into the hedgehog’s attribute defensive ball, the animal is in regards to the size of a giant grapefruit.

The species is sexually dimorphic with the females barely outsizing the males. Typical coloration is agouti. Hedgehogs with this coloring have spines that can be brown or grey with cream suggestions.

The face and underside are lined with mushy, white fur. There are different, more uncommon colorations, though agouti is by far the commonest.

Four-Toed Hedgehog

Four-Toed Hedgehog typically breeds a few times a year. As spontaneous ovulators and primarily solitary animals, this species mates when the circumstances are right they usually encounter the alternative sex.

They sometimes mate in wet, heat seasons, when meals are plentiful, often between October and March in southern Africa. Gestation lasts 35 days. The younger are born with spines already present however lined with a membrane.

Within a number of hours of beginning this membrane dries up and the spines instantly start rising. Weaning begins across the third week and ends between the 4th and sixth weeks. The younger go away their mom quickly thereafter. The younger are sexually mature around two months of age.

The African pygmy hedgehog is a solitary animal. As a nocturnal creature, it consistently strikes, protecting as much as a number of miles in a single night. Although they don’t seem to be territorial, people do hold their distance from different African pygmy hedgehogs.

On occasion, males sometimes hold at the least 60 feet between each other. There are quite a few distinctive behaviors present in this species. One is the process of self-annointing.

When an animal discovers a novel style or scent it creates frothy saliva which it proceeds to unfold throughout its body in a sequence of exceptional contortions.

The purpose for this behavior is unknown. It is almost certainly associated with both reproduction and mate choice or self-defense. Another behavior is the animal’s use of summertime estivation or winter hibernation to assist it to survive when the temperature will not be at its optimum 75-85 degrees.

Geographic Range

The African pygmy hedgehog ranges in southern Africa from Senegal to Sudan and Zambia.

Four-Toed Hedgehog Physical description

The four-toed hedgehog is an oval-bodied animal between 5 and 12 inches (13 and 30 cm) in size and weighing between 14 and 39 ounces (400 and 1,110 g). Females are sometimes bigger than males.

Four-Toed Hedgehog has brief legs, a brief tail sometimes round 2.5 centimeters (0.98 in) in size, a long nostril, and small beady eyes. The ears and whiskers are each comparatively giant, implying that the animal has good senses. As its frequent name implies, and in contrast to associated species, the four-toed hedgehog sometimes solely has Four toes on every hindfoot, missing the hallux. However, in some people, a small bony lump could also be present instead of the hallux, or there could even be a well-developed toe, particularly on the hind feet.

It can fluctuate significantly in coloration, however typical wild specimens have brown or gray spines with white or cream-colored suggestions. The fur on the body is speckled gray in coloration, with brown across the muzzle, and white face, legs, and underparts.

The higher body is roofed in spines various from 0.5 to 1.7 centimeters (0.20 to 0.67 in) in size, being longest on the higher floor of the pinnacle. The spines are variably colored however at all times have a white base and tip.

Males have an externally seen penis, situated within the mid-abdomen, however, the testicles are recessed into pouches near the anus. Females could have something from two to 5 pairs of teats.

Four-Toed Hedgehog Distribution and habitat

The four-toed hedgehog is discovered throughout a large swathe of central Africa, from Gambia and Senegal within the west, to Somalia within the east, and likewise in eastern Africa, as far south as Mozambique.

Four-Toed Hedgehog prefers grassy environments or open woodland and is discovered at elevations as high as 2,000 meters (6,600 ft), though it’s more frequent in lowland areas. Because it prefers to shelter in dry rocky or grassy areas, it avoids dense forest and swampland.

The principal predators of four-toed hedgehogs inside their natural habitat are Verreaux’s eagle-owl, jackals, hyenas, and honey badgers.

This species tends to want temperatures between 24 and 30 °C. When it’s hotter than that, it tends to seek out shelter in a burrow and go right into a state of estivation, or when it’s colder it goes right into a state of hibernation with a view to preserving energy.

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Four-Toed Hedgehog Behavior

The four-toed hedgehog is a solitary, nocturnal animal. It typically strikes alongside the ground however is able to each climbing and swimming when the need arises.

It is extremely energetic, generally protecting miles of ground in a single night because it forages bugs, grubs, snails, spiders, some plant matter, and even small vertebrates. It has a high tolerance for toxins and has been recorded consuming scorpions and even venomous snakes.

The commonest sounds made by four-toed hedgehogs are snorts, hisses, and a quiet twittering sound. When attacked, the animal can scream loudly, and males additionally produce a birdlike call throughout courtship.

Although four-toed hedgehogs do aestivate via the summertime, this isn’t regarded as linked to an increase in temperature, however slightly to an absence of accessible meals. Aestivation hardly ever lasts for more than six weeks.

Four-Toed Hedgehog
When encountering a predator, its standard defensive response is to tense up all of the muscle groups on its back to trigger its spines to face erect, after which roll right into a ball defending its limbs and head.

If it’s harassed additional, it’s going to twitch in and try to jab spines into the predator and make snuffling/grunting noises.

Its spines will not be launched into the pores and skin of an attacker, as these of a porcupine.

Hedgehogs solely hardly ever lose quills throughout maturity; heavy quill loss is often a warning signal as to the animal’s health.

When the four-toed hedgehog is launched to a brand new or significantly sturdy scent, it’s going to generally do what’s known as self-anointing.

It creates a considerable amount of foam by combining the fragrant substance with its saliva and spreads it onto its spines.

The function of this behavior is poorly understood, however, it’s regarded as a defensive motion, as hedgehogs have been identified to self-anoint with toxic toads.

Four-Toed Hedgehog Food Habits

Four-Toed Hedgehog is omnivorous however primarily insectivorous. It feeds totally on invertebrates resembling spiders and bugs, often additionally consuming small quantities of plant matter or small vertebrates.

African pygmy hedgehogs are opportunistic feeders with a particularly high tolerance to toxins. They have been identified to eat scorpions and small toxic snakes with no sick results.

Four-Toed Hedgehog Reproduction

Female four-toed hedgehogs don’t go into estrus throughout any specific season, and are fertile all through the year, though mating is commonest through the wet season when meals are most plentiful.

The feminine sometimes offers beginning to a single litter every year, which can comprise from two to 10 pups, with 4 or 5 being most common.

Males method the feminine and court docket her with high-pitched vocalizations. Ovulation is induced, occurring solely within the presence of a male, usually within 24 hours of mating.

Gestation lasts thirty to forty days, and the mom offers birth in a well-lined nest cavity, resembling a deserted rodent burrow.

The younger are lined in a skinny membrane to guard the mom against their already present spines, although it takes them a while to achieve control over the muscle groups that transfer them.

At birth, the younger ones weigh about 10 grams (0.35 oz), and are blind and helpless, with solely mushy spines and no different fur.

The spines stiffen inside a number of hours, and additional spines emerge over the first few days of life because the pores and skin, initially swollen and edematous, begin to dry and contract.

The eyes open at fifteen days, when the younger start to turn into more energetic. The deciduous teeth seem at about three weeks, with the everlasting teeth following at seven to 9 weeks.

The younger are weaned by six weeks and go away the mom not long after. They can turn sexually mature at two to a few months of age, though within the wild they won’t sometimes breed through the first year of life.

In the wild, four-toed hedgehogs dwell for no more than about three years, however, they’ve lived as much as ten years in captivity.

Four-Toed Hedgehog

Four-Toed Hedgehog In captivity

The four-toed hedgehog is likely one of the most popular species of domesticated hedgehog bought within the unique pet commerce. It is bred extensively for coloration and temperament and is even displayed in competitive hedgehog exhibits.

The lifespan is usually 4–6 years. Due to its energetic nature, many house owners present their hedgehog with a big operating wheel.

Some measure the distances their pets run each night, and a few have claimed that their hedgehogs run upwards of Eight kilometers (5.0 mi) a night with pace bursts in an extra 16 kilometers per hour (9.9 mph).

When saved in captivity, at more regulated temperatures, this species doesn’t sometimes display its estivation or hibernation behavior. Due to a considerable amount of breeding inventory obtainable in captive collections, the four-toed hedgehog isn’t imported from the wild any longer.

Several US and Canadian localities ban possession of this species or require particular permits for them. Hedgehogs are typically hardy animals when saved correctly, although they might be weak to the growth of tumors as they mature.

Conservation

In addition to the wild animals present in African deserts, a closed breeding inventory exists within the United States to service the pet trade market. It is not authorized to move the animals out of Africa, so their populations there will not be threatened by the pet commerce.

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