African Pygmy Hedgehog Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) is nocturnal animal that is typically found in the eastern and central Africa. In the wild it makes homes in savanna habitats but usually avoid thick forests. While the animal is quite good in swimming and climbing it nevertheless remains busy on land. The hedgehog is also known as four-toed hedgehog.

African Pygmy Hedgehog Facts


  • Adult African pygmy hedgehog reaches the overall length of about 15 and 25 centimeters (5.9 and 9.8 in) and weighs 250 and 600 grams (8.8 and 21.2 oz).
  • Males are smaller than females.
  • The hedgehog is typically recognized by short legs and tail. The tail adds 2.5 centimeters (0.98 in) to the length.
  • The average length of each spine ranges from 0.5 to 1.7 centimeters (0.20 to 0.67 in).
  • It has got small beady eyes and long nose.
  • Prominent among its features are ears and whiskers. The whiskers mainly shows that the animal possess excellent senses.
  • African pygmy hedgehog is distinguished by the brownish grey spines while the tips are white.
  • The undersides and face are white whereas the portion around the muzzle is brown in color.

See also: Hedgehog Facts For Kids

african pygmy hedgehog facts
African pygmy hedgehog ©

Range & Habitat

  • The African pygmy hedgehog occurs throughout the central Africa including Somalia, Gambia, and Senegal in the west. It is also found in Mozambique.
  • Hedgehogs are likely to build habitats in open woodlands at altitudes of about 2,000 meters (6,600 ft). Hedgehog’s habitats commonly exist in lowland areas. The animal likes to spend time in grassy areas including dry rocky while avoiding thick forests.


  • Outside the breeding season, African pygmy hedgehogs are solitary and they become active at night.
  • While it can swim as well as climb the hedgehog generally prefers to move along the ground.
  • It is thought to travel many kilometers in one night.
  • Four-toed hedgehogs will produce few calls such as hisses, twittering, or grunts.
  • One of its defensive behaviors is that it rolls itself while making the spines stand erect. By doing so, hedgehogs are able to protect their limbs and heads. When provoked they may attack the predator while attempting to jab its spines into it. Unlike porcupine, four-toed hedgehogs do not release their spines to a predator.
  • The hedgehog fancies living in temperature ranging from 24 to 30 °C.
  • In short bursts, hedgehogs are capable to attain speeds of about 16 kilometers per hour (9.9 mph).

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Four-toed hedgehogs eat insects, spiders, small vertebrates, grubs, green matter, and snails.
  • It is highly resistant to venomous species and is thought to feed on venomous snakes as well as scorpions.
african pygmy hedgehog facts
African pygmy hedgehog

Reproductive Biology

  • Four-toed hedgehogs mate in rainy season probably because the food is abundant during wet season.
  • The litter size ranges from 3 – 5 pups but it may contain as many as 10 pups.
  • The gestation period lasts 30 – 40 days.
  • They may use burrows abandoned by other rodents.
  • Newborns average 10 grams (0.35 oz) in weight. They are born blind and helpless and they lack fur. Young will open eyes in about 2 weeks.
  • The weaning period is 42 days.
  • Both parents reach the maturity at 2 – 3 months of age.
  • In the wild the average life expectancy is 3 years while the captive lives up to 10 years.
  • Predators of the African pygmy hedgehog include jackals, honey badgers, Verreaux’s eagle-owl, and hyenas.

Conservation Status

  • Least Concern
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