Scientific Name: Atelerix frontalis
Common Name: Hedgehog, Kap-Igel, Riccio, Krimpvarkie,
Le Herisson du Cap, Erizo, Fikifa
Description: Short, strong sharp spines cover the whole
of the back and sides from the forehead to the rump. Each spine is a thick,
stiff hair, about 2cm long, white/cream-coloured at the base, black or dark
brown in the middle, and white or buff at the tip. Some spines are white, and
form broad bands along the back. The face, legs, tail and underside are covered
with dark-coloured hair, dark or grey-brown on the face, legs and tail; black,
white or a combination on the underside. A clear white band runs across the
forehead. The snout is pointed, the ears are small and the tail is short. There
are five toes on each foot. Hedgehogs have long legs and can move surprisingly
Difference in Sex: Females have two pairs of
nipples on the chest and a pair on the belly.
Average Weight: 240-400 g
Habitat: A wide variety of habitats although they do
not occur in desert and high-rainfall areas. They prefer semi- arid and
sub-temperate areas with between 300 and 800 mm rain per year.
Habits: Hedgehogs are mostly nocturnal, resting in
dense vegetation under debris, under logs, or burrows. Semi-permanent resting
sites used only by females with young or during winter. May be seen in daytime
during the rainy season. They are solitary, encounters are noisy with much
snuffling and snorting and head butting. Hedgehogs move slowly when foraging but
can run at 7 km/h. Prey is found by smell and is rooted out from litter
and under rocks and logs. They are noisy and rely more on the spines than
concealment for protection against predators. When disturbed they curl up and
pull the spiny skin on its back down over its head and legs to form a ball of
spines. When temperatures are low, day length is under 11 hours, or food
availability is low, they become inactive. When such conditions get worse,
extended periods of inactivity result.
Main feeding time: Nocturnal but do come out during the
day when it start raining.
Size: Head and body length 18 cm; tail 2 cm
Gestation: Breeds during summer months. Gestation is 35
days and there are usually 3-4 in a litter. Newborn young are blind and naked
and only the tips of the spines can be seen. The spines grow through the skin
1-3 hours after birth and are are replaced at 4-6 weeks at which time the young
begin to forage with their mother. Young are weaned at 5 weeks and are
independent at 6-7 weeks.
Number of young at birth: 3 to 4 young
Communication: Sniffing, growling and snorting. The
alarm call is a high-pitched screech
Age: 8 to 10 years
Diet: Mainly insects but also small rodents,
eggs, frogs, earthworms and vegetable matter. Water-independent.
Enemies: Despite the spines which provide protection
against other carnivores, Giant eagle owls (Bubo lacteus) eat hedgehogs in large