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Southern African Hedgehog
4560535024 658w
Information
Range Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Eulipotyphla
Family Erinaceidae
Genus Atelerix
Species Atelerix frontalis
Conservation Status
LCSpecies
Least Concern
The Southern African hedgehog (Atelerix frontalis), is a species of hedgehog in the Erinaceidae family. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Description

Their bodies are covered by sharp spines. The average mass of a fully grown male is 350g. The main color is brown but there are other colors too. A Southern African hedgehog is covered with spines all over its body except for its face, belly and ears, and these spines are said to be like a rhino’s horn. These unprotected body parts are covered with fur. They are dark brown and their spines are typically white at the base and dark brown at the tip. They have pointed snouts and typically have either a white or brown belly. The average length of the hedgehog is approximately 20 cm. The main characteristic of this type of hedgehog is that they have a white stripe across their forehead, typically, traveling from one leg to the other. Additionally, this hedgehog is unique because it has 5 toes instead of the more common 4.

Distribution

The Southern African Hedgehog is found throughout southern Africa, specifically in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. There are two specific ranges of this hedgehog, a western range including Angola and Namibia and an eastern range, including South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The hedgehog as an individual, typically has a home range of 200–300 meters from the area it is living in which commonly is a hole in the ground. The resting places for hedgehogs changes almost daily. These hedgehogs typically live by themselves, except in the case of females rearing their young, for them, residency is more permanent for a period of time.

Habitat

Southern African Hedgehogs are nocturnal. Although these hedgehogs can be found in most environments, they prefer grass and Bushveld that is not too damp and with a good covering of leaves and other debris. They will spend most of the day underneath this cover of leaves or under bushes and in holes; only coming out at night to feed. Sleeping places are changed daily with only some wintering and breeding nests being semi-permanent.

Behavior

The Southern African Hedgehog is said to be a slow mover, however, when threatened it can move surprisingly fast at 6 to 7 kilometers/hour. During the day they typically stay where they live, which is an area that is covered with vegetation or in a hole in the ground. When the hedgehog rests, it curls up into a ball. Nighttime is when the hedgehog forages for food, making it nocturnal. The Southern African Hedgehog hibernates during the winter and studies show that heterothermy helps keep the energy balance for this species during winter.

Diet

The Southern African Hedgehog is insectivorous, with a wild specimen's diet consisting mainly of earthworms and crickets. However, the South African hedgehog has evolved to become mostly omnivorous due to habitat loss and trash from human civilization being readily available. The Southern African Hedgehog is an omnivore and its diet typically consists of invertebrates, including beetles, grasshoppers, and slugs. They also eat small vertebrates including frogs and lizards. Since the hedgehog is known to frequent gardens, dog food has become another staple to their diet. Due to the fact that water is so scarce in the regions that the hedgehog lives, these hedgehogs are not reliant on free water and instead obtain most of their water through the food that they eat. Additionally, in one night of foraging, the hedgehog can eat about 30% of its bodyweight. Also, because hedgehogs go into hibernation, they must weigh at least 500g in order to survive.

Human Interactions

The Southern African hedgehog is not a threat to humans; however, humans are a threat to the Southern African Hedgehog, especially because a lot of these hedgehogs are killed by vehicles. In addition, people believe in some southern African cultures that smoke created from burning their spines and dried meat can keep spirits away. A possible medicinal purpose of the Southern African Hedgehog’s fat is that it is believed to cure earaches in children. The hedgehog is also hunted by humans as a source of food.

Living hedgehogs are useful to humans and many human practices are beneficial to hedgehogs. Many of these hedgehogs live in suburban gardens in areas of southern Africa where they are beneficial to humans through eating some of the pests that can hurt crops in peoples gardens.

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