African hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris)
The Zoo's two African hedgehogs are named Ice and Storm and are 2.5 years old. The adult size of the African hedgehog is around 6 to 9 inches long. Newborns weigh about 0.3 ounces and adults weigh around 10 to 25 ounces. Hedgehogs are characterized by the short, grooved white-and-brown spines (modified hairs) that cover the upper part of the body. On the belly, feet, neck and face behind the nose, the fur is white. They do have a tail but it is so short it is almost unnoticable.
Status in the wild
The African hegehog is not listed as endangered by any of the recognized bodies (IUCN, CITES, and USFWS). These hedgehogs are the favorite prey of the Verreaux’s eagle owl. There are many superstitions about this animal in East Africa; some people believe that seeds rubbing on a hedgehog before planting will produce abundant harvests. The skin and spines are also popular fertility charms.
Hedgehogs inhabit a wide range across a variety of climates and terrains in East Africa. There is localized distribution in that range, possibly because of the importance of the microhabitat, they cannot survive in damp areas. They must have dry shelters on well-drained soil and a good supply of ground-dwelling insects and other invertebrates. Suburban Nairobi meets these habitat conditions, where hedgehogs are reported to be abundant.
Main diet includes insects, earthworms, snails and slugs. 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.
- Hedgehogs have a small home range, approximately 120 yards radius from their nest, however they areextremely territorial and will chatter, snort and growl if another animal invades their range.
- The name hedgehog came into use around the year 1450, it is derived from the Middle English name 'heyghoge', from heyg (hedge), because it frequents hedgerows and hoge (hog), from its pig-like snout.
- Spines normally come out when a hedgehog sheds baby spines and replaces them with adult spines. This is called "quilling".