Thousands of spines protect the hedgehog from predators

  • Spread the word

Hedgehog

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • There are 17 species of hedgehog
  • There are approximately 6,000 quills on a hedgehog
  • Their home range is 120 yards from its nest

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Atelerix albiventris

Weight

1 to 2 lb.

Size

7 to 9 in. long

Life span

Up to 10 years in captivity

Habitat

A variety of climates and terrains

Diet

Insectivorous

Gestation

Between 35 and 58 days depending on the species

Predators

Large birds, most carnivores

Habitat

Where do hedgehogs live?

Hedgehogs inhabit a wide range across a variety of climates and terrains in East Africa. They must have dry shelters on well-drained soil and a good supply of ground-dwelling insects and other invertebrates. Hedgehogs are reported to be abundant in Suburban Nairobi, which meets these habitat conditions.

Tags: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Kenya, Niger, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Kilimanjaro, Maasai Steppe, Regional Parc W, East Africa, West/Central Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What are hedgehogs?

The hedgehog is a small mammal with thousands of stiff, sharp spines—harder and sharper than those of a porcupine—that cover the animal's back and sides, like a pincushion filled with needles.

Behavior & Diet

Hedgehogs are rarely caught off-guard.

The hedgehog has a practice of curling into a tight ball, with its spines sticking out in all directions. When it rolls up, a special, highly developed circular muscle that runs along the sides of the body and across the rump and neck contracts and forms a "bag" into which the body, head, and legs are folded. The hedgehog curls up if disturbed or frightened—only the strongest predators, such as the badger, can pry it open. It also sleeps in this position, so is rarely caught unprotected.

Hedgehogs will eat one-third of their body weights in one night.

The hedgehog wakes up at dusk and begins its nocturnal activities alone. It uses regular pathways, toddling along on its short legs searching for food. It eats one-third of its body weight in one night. The hedgehog’s favorite foods are insects, earthworms, snails, and slugs, making it a welcome guest in many suburban gardens—it is even kept as a pet. It is also known to eat eggs, small mammals, birds, frogs, reptiles, fruit, fungi, and roots. Although not completely immune to toxins, hedgehogs have enough resistance to allow them to eat poisonous snakes.

They have courting rituals.

Hedgehogs perform a courtship in which the male walks round and round a female in heat, often for hours at a time. After mating, they usually go their own ways.

They are anointed.

Hedgehogs have a peculiar practice whereby they will taste or chew on an object of interest and then produce a foamy saliva. The hedgehog will then proceed to self-anoint and rub this saliva all over its body. The reason for this practice is largely unknown.

Gallery
  • Hedgehog AWF
  • Hedgehog
  • Hedgehog
  • Hedgehog Denis Carl
Challenges

Humans are pushing hedgehogs out of their habitats.

As human populations grow and increase agricultural activities, expand settlements, and construct roads, hedgehogs are losing their living spaces. 

Solutions

Our solutions to conserving the hedgehog:

  • Provide education on sustainable growth.

    African Wildlife Foundation educates communities about the importance of sustainable practices for agricultural and settlement growth by providing training on best practices and incentivizing conservation agriculture when appropriate.

  • Bridge the gap between conservation and tourism.

    AWF brings together private investors with local communities to develop tourism in areas rich with wildlife by constructing conservation tourism lodges like The Sanctuary at Ole Lentille in Kenya. The lodge provides sustainable income for the community, and the 20,000-acre conservancy is a safe home to wildlife. 

Projects

Will you show the hedgehog your support?

With your help, AWF can work on programs like providing training on sustainable agriculture and expanding conservation tourism to benefit communities and their surrounding wildlife. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure the hedgehog does not become an endangered species.   

  • Sekute Conservation Area
    Community-wide protection of Zambia’s wildlife

    Agriculture and population growth threaten wildlife in Zambia. 

    Historically, wildlife roamed freely around the Sekute Chiefdom in southern Zambia. But, in recent...

    Read more
    All Projects

Get Involved

Become a member

Join African Wildlife Foundation as a member for just $25. Your partnership is vital to our mission to protect Africa’s most precious - and imperiled - creatures.

Join Now

  • Spread the word