AFRICAN PYGMY HEDGEHOG
HABITAT AND RANGE
African Pygmy hedgehogs are found scattered local populations from Senegal in western Africa to southern Somalia and Tanzania on the continent’s eastern edge. They’re one of 15 hedgehog species scattered through most of Africa and Eurasia. The African Pygmy hedgehogs live in semiarid areas and dry savannas.
African Pygmy hedgehogs are 6-8 inches long and weigh 18-25 ounces. They have long, rather pointed, pinkish brown snouts with moist, dark noses, round dark eyes, oval brown ears, and short white hair on their brows, cheeks and bellies. The hairs on their backs are modified into 1/2 to 1 inch long, un-barbed spines, white at the base and tip with a dark band around the middle giving it a salt-and-pepper appearance. Their back feet have only four toes and their front feet have five. Vocalizations include chirps, chuffs, hisses, and growls that increase with agitation. Hedgehogs also have a unique muscle called the Orbicularis Panniculi which enables them to curl up into a ball and draw the edges of its spine coat together like a drawstring purse, with its head, belly and feet tucked inside.
African pygmy hedgehogs are insectivores and mainly carnivorous by nature. They eat worms, snails, arthropods, frogs, lizards, snakes, eggs, nesting birds, small mammals and carrion. They can also eat fruit, seeds, peanuts, fungi, and roots. They consume food amounting to about 1/3 of their body weight per night.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
In captivity, the average lifespan of a African pygmy hedgehogs is 8-10 years. In the wild, the average lifespan is 2-3 years. The average gestation period is between 30-40 days and the litters can range from 2-10 young. After 2 weeks, they can roll up and after six weeks, they are able to travel with their mother. They reach sexual maturity at 2 months.
Though their eyesight is reasonably good with some degree of color vision, they depend far more on their excellent sense of hearing and smell that can detect prey 2 inches or more below ground. They’re about 40 times as resistant to snake and arthropod venom as a guinea pig of the same size. They lick and chew objects with unfamiliar odors or possess irritating substances, producing quantities of foamy saliva that they spread over their spines. This is believed to deter predators.