The African pygmy hedgehog is also known as the four-toed hedgehog. It is one of four African hedgehog species, which are all closely related. It is a species of least concern conservation-wise, but a trade in the hedgehogs as pets has led to the capture of wild specimens being outlawed.
The African pygmy hedgehog is a small, round, spiny animal with short legs. It grows 18 to 23 cm (7 to 9 inches) long and weighs just over 595 g (21 oz). It has soft white fur on its stomach and sharp white to grey-coloured spines on its back that are used for defence. When the hedgehog is scared, it rolls up into a ball to protect itself from all sides by its sharp spines.
Habitat and range
The hedgehog lives in central African deserts. They are found in small populations from the east to west coasts in the Sudan, Senegal and Zambia. The hedgehog avoids the hot desert sun by only coming out at night when it is much cooler. During the day, these animals can be found hiding in piles of leaves, under logs, tree roots, in termite mounds or abandoned animal burrows.
Diet and predators
The hedgehogs are omnivorous and eat both meat and plants. Its main diet is small insects, spiders and scorpions. They will also sometimes eat small snakes, lizards and frogs. Fruits, seeds, fungi, roots and nuts are all also part of the animal's diet. It is highly resistant to toxic substances and can eat poisonous scorpions and snakes without becoming ill. The hedgehog does have some other animals that will eat it despite its spiny protection. Eagles, owls, wild dogs, jackals and honey badgers all prey on the pygmy hedgehog.
The African pygmy hedgehog lives a solitary life and only gets together to breed. The animals can breed from the age of two months. The female hedgehog is pregnant for between 30 and 40 days before she gives birth to between three and four babies. The babies already have their spines at birth. The mother looks after the babies for 40 to 45 days before they have grown enough to look after themselves. African pygmy hedgehogs can live for two to three years in the wild or eight to 10 in captivity.