(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The northern white-breasted hedgehog, scientific name Erinaceus roumanicus is a species of hedgehog.

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog Profile

The range of the species extends within the west so far as Poland, Austria, and the former Yugoslavia, and south to Greece and the Adriatic Islands, together with populations on Crete, Corfu, and Rhodes.

It is discovered eastwards by way of Russia and Ukraine, as far east because of the Ob River in Siberia. It is widespread all through this range, and there aren’t any indicators of a big inhabitants decline.

Taxonomically, it was for a time thought-about to be a subspecies of northern white-breasted hedgehog, and later a subspecies of E. concolor.

Since the 1990s, it has been thought-about a separate species in its personal right, following new genetic and morphological research, with 5 subspecies – E. roumanicus roumanicus, E. roumanicus bolkayi, E. roumanicus drozdovskii, E. roumanicus nesiotes, and E. roumanicus pallidus.

The species is a typical synanthrope and is understood to hold not solely the hedgehog tick, Ixodes hexagonus, but additionally Ixodes ricinus, the most typical European tick species.

Weaning often happens 6 weeks after beginning, at which period younger European hedgehogs start venturing out of the nest with their mom. They start to forage and create an overwintering nest on their very own. Most people are sexually mature by the first spring after their born.

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog Behavior

Northern white-breasted hedgehog is nocturnal, predominantly solitary, and non-territorial. It meets deliberately with others solely through the mating season, however, a social hierarchy might exist such that mature females have dominance over prime feeding sites.

Hedgehogs have comparatively giant house ranges which are tough to defend, and as such, they roam freely through the night. They are likely to relax through the day in shallow nests fabricated from twigs, leaves, grass, pine needles, and different foliage.

Each nest is utilized by more than one particular person, however by no means at a similar time, and hedgehogs can also share urine sites. Aggressive interactions haven’t been noticed between people.

Northern white-breasted hedgehog travels at an average velocity of 110 to 220 yards per hour. They are profitable swimmers and climbers and are in a position to squeeze by way of tight areas.

When threatened, hedgehogs curl right into a ball, exposing their sharp spines whereas defending their weak underbelly and face. However, hedgehogs choose to keep away from contact with predators by dwelling in areas devoid of predator odors regardless of a rise in hedgehog inhabitants density.

As day size decreases, European hedgehogs start in search of sufficiently insulated hibernation nests. In colder areas, hibernation often begins in October and lasts till April; in hotter areas, hedgehogs might solely hibernate through the coldest of winters.

Hedgehogs survive the chilly temperatures by storing fats for use as insulation and as an energy reserve to get up when necessary. These periodic breaks in hibernation happen each 1 to 2 weeks and final for 1 to 2 days, throughout which hedgehogs forage for meals and urinate. Provided ample assets, captive hedgehogs don’t hibernate.

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog Habitat

The European hedgehog is present in temperate fields, particularly area edges and hedgerows. They choose drier areas that aren’t thickly wooded and are sometimes present in scrub and sand dunes.

European hedgehogs are commensal and are sometimes present in house gardens, cemeteries, parks, agroecosystems, and different areas that present applicable locations for hibernation. It generally occupies elevations from sea level to 2400 m all through its geographic range.

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog Physical Description

The European hedgehog is a small, round animal with brief legs that increase it about 1 inch above the ground. It is plantigrade and has 5 properly developed pads and claws on every foot.

The first and fifth toes are smaller and weaker than the second, third, and fourth toes. Its coat is white and brown and consists of three/four to 1-inch spines, organized in a radiating pattern, that cover all however its cheeks, throat, abdomen, and limbs.

Areas not coated in spines are coated in a rough hair that’s yellow-brown in shade, although white hedgehogs have been seen. It has an elongated, conical head and snout, a small braincase, a brief neck and tail, and properly developed eyes and ears.

The size of its body ranges from 135 to 265 mm, and males are often barely bigger than females. The tail is about 20 mm long.

The spines overlaying the European hedgehog’s body have white suggestions and bases and are coated with alternating brown and black bands. They are holes and have longitudinal grooves, which lower their weight.

Spines are fabricated from keratin and are hooked up to the pores and skin in an identical strategy to hair. Each backbone grows from a follicle within the pores and skin that’s hooked up to a small muscle (arrector pili) that’s used for piloerection.

When a hedgehog rolls right into a ball, the entire spines may be erected concurrently, which is made possible by the panniculus carnosis, a sheet of muscle that covers its back. An adult hedgehog often has around 5,000 spines overlaying its body.

The northern white-breasted hedgehog has lacteal and everlasting teeth. The everlasting dentition options broadly area higher incisors such that the decrease incisors match between them. The dental system for the northern white-breasted hedgehog is 3/2, 1/1, 2/3, 3/3.

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog

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Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog Reproduction

European hedgehogs are solitary and non-territorial. They start the mating process when a male encounters a feminine, at which period the male encircles the feminine whereas she lowers her head and makes a spread of snorts, grunts, and hisses.

If the male is profitable in courting the feminine, he makes an attempt to mount her in a number of instances. After quite a few copulations, the male leaves the feminine and doesn’t present any parental care to his offspring.

He continues to roam alone and makes an attempt to mate with different females till he begins getting ready for hibernation. Males and females have a number of mates every season.

Northern white-breasted hedgehog begins mating in late spring (April or May) when the animal emerges from hibernation. Males, which emerge Three to four weeks before females, develop their house range throughout the mating season to extend probabilities of discovering a mate.

When a male finds a mate, he circles her whereas she lowers her nostril and turns audibly defensive. The male might circle for a number of hours, making a number of makes an attempt to mount. If the feminine regularly rejects the male, he ultimately leaves to discover a receptive feminine.

If she accepts him, she flattens her spines and lowers herself to the ground, which supplies the male higher entry. To copulate, a male climbs onto a feminine’s back and makes use of his teeth to carry onto her shoulder.

Gestation final for about 35 days. Females give beginning to 4 to 6 offspring per litter, and infrequently have two litters per year. The second litter, which is born later within the year, has a lowered probability of surviving winter.

Newborns are about Three inches long and weigh 0.Three to 0.9 oz. In birth, northern white-breasted hedgehog doesn’t seem to have spines, that are hidden beneath their fluid-crammed skin.

24 hours after beginning, the fluid is absorbed and the spines are revealed, and, 2 to three days later, the younger’s musculature is developed sufficiently to permit it to carry the spines erect.

These white adolescent spines are changed by darker spines after about 1.5 days. Pigmented adult spines exchange the first two coats after about 2 to three weeks, at which period younger start to open their eyes and learn to roll right into a ball.

Young are weaned by four to six weeks old, after which they turn out to be impartial of parental care, and are in a position to mate by about 1 year.

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog Communication

European hedgehogs will not be notably noisy and make largely grunting, snorting, and hoarse squeaking sounds. Adults are vocal throughout mating, whereas feeding, and sometimes when captured.

Young might squeak and whistle whereas within the nest. Due to its nocturnal behavior, European hedgehogs rely closely on their senses of odor and listening to.

In addition to having a properly developed sense of odor, they, like many mammals, have a Jacobson’s organ of their palate.

The organ might have a job in social behavior as each female and male hedgehogs have quite a lot of scent glands.

While the mechanisms of listening to in northern white-breasted hedgehog haven’t been properly studied, analysis on an associated species, the Long-eared hedgehog, has discovered it able to processing high-frequency sounds as much as 45kHz.

Food Habits

European hedgehogs are omnivorous, however predominantly feed on bugs. They favor beetles, ants, bees, wasps, earwigs, butterflies, and moths. Hedgehogs can also eat cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, snails, eggs, lizards, snakes, frogs, small rodents, and carrion.

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog Predation

Predators of the northern white-breasted hedgehog embrace dogs, foxes, snakes, giant owls, and badgers. To defend themselves, hedgehogs have the flexibility to curve right into a defensive ball that exposes solely erected spines.

In order to type right into a ball, they constriction the panniculus carnosus muscle. When this happens, the muscle tissue related to every backbone contracts, leaving the entire hedgehog’s spines erect.

Some predators, reminiscent of badgers and foxes, could possibly achieve entry to the hedgehog by wedging their noses into the crease where the top and backside of the spiny coat meet.

Predators have additionally been recognized to drop a balled hedgehog from a height in order to shock or injure the hedgehog long sufficient for them to reap the benefits of its uncovered underbelly.

Ecosystem

Hedgehogs are omnivorous, feeding on all kinds of animal (particularly insect) and plant materials. They might assist control insect pest populations in some areas.

Hedgehogs are hosts to quite a lot of parasites together with nematodes (Crenosoma striatum, Eucoleus aerophilus, Capillaria erinacei, Capillaria ovoreticulata and Capillaria spp.), trematodes (Brachylaemus erinacei), acanthocephalans (Oliganthorhynchus erinacei), ticks (Ixodes hexagonus), and fleas (Archeopsylla erinacei).

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