Ethiopian Hedgehog

Ethiopian Hedgehog - (G. Simkins)
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Scientific Name Paraechinus aethiopicus Arabic Name Al qunfuz Tagged As Mammal, Insectivora, Desert Hedgehog Endangered Status
 

Description

It has large ears and a black snout with a white band across the forehead. The tips of the spines are white, providing an overall grey appearance. Weighing 280-510 grams. Typically, the lifespan of a hedgehog in the wild is 3-4 years. In captivity they have been known to live as long as 10 years. During the daytime, members of this species rest near rocks and cliffs. This allows them protection while they sleep, hiding them from birds of prey. They sleep on their sides, so their spines give them little protection while at rest. They hunt at night.

Insects and other prey congregate near coastline or inland vegetation around an oasis. During prolonged periods of cold weather, these hedgehogs hibernate, waking periodically to forage for food. These periods of hibernation may be necessary as a result of the poor insulation offered by their spines. It is mainly insectivorous, but it eats a variety of foods when they are available. It is not, however, thought to eat plant matter.

One other interesting note is that, like other hedgehogs, has a high tolerance for snake and insect venoms, estimated to be 30 to 40 times that of a similar sized rodent. This protects them while hunting venomous or stinging prey. Prey include: insects, small invertebrates, the eggs of ground-nesting birds, frogs, snakes and scorpions.

Range and Habitat

Widely distributed across the Middle East, occupying a range of habitats from open desert lowlands to vegetated mountain wadis.

Breeding

The female normally gives birth to three to four young (May – June), which are born with scarce soft white spines. The gestation period is about 40 days, producing 2-3 litters per year. Young suckle for 40 days before being weaned.

Tracks and Signs

The hedgehog tracks show the distinct hand-like shape of their feet. Despite their small size, they are able to cover great distances even over sand dunes, each night. Notice the imprint left by the quills when it sat down in the image below.