๐Ÿพ Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

More Hedgehog Facts ๐Ÿพ

The Southern African Hedgehog is a small, nocturnal animal covered in short, prickly spines. Their faces, limbs and tails are covered with dark brown or greyish-brown hair. When in danger, they roll into a ball, and are then safe from most predators: a notable exception to this is the eagle owl, whose long, sharp talons are more than a match for the hedgehogs short spines.


Hedgehogs search for food after dark, and locate their food by smell and hearing rather than sight. The hedgehog can eat up to one third of its weight every day. Its diet consists of worms and insects, small rodents, frogs, slugs, the eggs and young of ground nesting birds, and vegetable matter which includes roots and fruit. Hedgehogs can sometimes be seen after rain foraging for earthworms.

Their resting time is mostly in daylight, when they curl up under cover of bush or grass or in a hole in the ground. They change shelter daily, except when the colder months come, as they hibernate during that time, only emerging to eat during warm spells. Southern African Hedgehogs are fairly vocal, and communicate in a series of grunts and snuffles. When alarmed, they emit a high-pitched cry. Although they generally move slowly, they are capable of moving quickly by rising high on their long legs. Usually litter size is two to four (although it has been known to reach 11), and the young are born during the summer months. My Hedgehog had 8 little hoglets at her last litter.


Baby African Hedgehogs at San Diego Zoo -
Photo Credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoological Society

When alarmed, a hedgehog will roll into a ball, with his head and limbs tucked in, and his spines pointing outward, resembling a spiny ball. A hedgehog can remain in this position for hours. One should never try to force a hedgehog out of this rolled position. Hedgehogs rarely bite, but if frightened, especially males, may hiss.

An interesting behavior of hedgehogs is called "anting" or "self-anointing." When a hedgehog encounters an unusual or unfamiliar smell, or the presence of new food, she will place the new material in her mouth and start to salivate excessively, creating a foamy saliva. She spits this foam onto herself and spreads it over her quills. The reason for this behavior is unknown.

The main predator of the hedgehog is man, being used as food and for their perceived medicinal purposes in traditional medicine. Hedgehogs are also killed on roads. As well as this, the loss of habitat and agricultural expansion are both detrimental to the hedgehog’s survival. Veld fires in South Africa are also responsible for the loss of great numbers of hedgehogs.



TERMINOLOGY : Males, Females, Hoglets or pups, Herd, Quills or Spines

SIZE: Length 20cm, mass 350 g.

AVERAGE LIFESPAN : 3.5 years
MAXIMUM LIFESPAN : 9 YEARS
COMMON LIFESPAN : 4-6 YEARS

DIET IN THE WILD :
Beetles
Ants
Termites
Grasshoppers
Moths
Centipedes
Earthworms

DIET IN CAPTIVITY :
Dry Cat food
Mink and Ferret food
Cooked poultry (never raw meat)
Cooked egg (never raw)
Insects (mealworms, crickets, etc)
assorted fruits and vegetables

COLOUR: Brown and white spines on upper part of body, including flanks; grey-brown to dark brown hairs on head, limbs and tail. A band of white hair is across the forehead. The under parts vary from off-white to black.

GESTATION PERIOD: approx. 35 days

MOST LIKE: Occasionally confused with the Porcupine although the hedgehog's brownish colour, small size and short spines easily distinguish it from the much larger, long-spined, black and white porcupine.

HABITAT: A wide variety of habitats providing dry soil and dry cover for daytime shelter. A plentiful supply of insects, worms and roots is essential.

Classification : CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Insectivora

Number of Genus : 4
Number of Species : 14


African Hedgehog


'Cupid'
African Hedgehog - picture from EXOTIC PETS

(Some info from "EcoTravel"

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2 comments:

  1. I loved seeing the baby hedgehog picture! oh my god they're so cute! Reminds me of when we found my little hedgie, he was a wee beastie!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Mary! My 2 Hedgies had 6 babies - have you still got yours?

    ReplyDelete

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