African Hedgehog

African Hedgehog



COMMON NAME: African hedgehog, four-toed hedgehog
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Insectivora
FAMILY: Erinaceidae
GENUS SPECIES: Atelerix albiventris (white belly)


DESCRIPTION: A small mammal with white hair on its stomach and hair modified into spines on its back
SIZE: Adult size is 17-23 cm (6-9 in.) long
WEIGHT: Newborns weigh about 10 g (0.3 oz.) and adults weigh 270-700 g (10-25 oz.)
DIET: Insects, crustaceans, small vertebrates, eggs, carrion, and occasional plant matter
GESTATION: 34-37 days
LIFE SPAN: Approximately 10 years
RANGE: Throughout Central Africa
HABITAT: Open country with low growing vegetation
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. There are 11 species of hedgehog native to Africa, Asia, and Europe, and they have been introduced to New Zealand.
2. Hedgehog quills are not barbed or poisonous. However, hedgehogs will apply a foamy saliva to their quills. This may serve many purposes: an irritant to predators, a natural insect repellent since they are unable to clean their skin well, or an attractant to potential mates.
3. A hedgehog has a large muscle running along its stomach which pulls its body into a tight, spiky little ball for defense.
4. Large owls and raptors with well-protected feet and sharp claws are some of the only natural enemies of hedgehogs.
5. Hedgehogs give birth to one to seven babies which are born with the spines just below the skin. Spines start to appear within 24 hours.


Hedgehogs help to control insect and vermin populations. They show a high tolerance to toxins, both natural and human-made. They have been known to consume many animals whose toxins could be fatal to humans including certain beetles, wasps, bees, and venomous snakes. Hedgehogs are also a food source for some larger animals.


Macdonald, D., ed. Encyclopedia of Mammals, Vol. 2. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1985.

Parker, S., ed. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals, Vol. 1.London: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1990.

Smith, A. "Husbandry and Medicine of African Hedgehogs". Journal of Small Exotic Animal Medicine, 2(1). Gray Pub, pp. 21-28, 1992.

Stocker, L. The Complete Hedgehog. London: Chatto and Windeos, 1987.