African Animals

HEDGEHOG – Atelerix frontalis

Thanks to Joseph & Uschi Pomerleau for this pic

SIZE: Length 20 cm, mass 350 g.
COLOUR: Brown and white spines on upper part of body, including flanks; grey-brown to dark brown hairs on head, limbs and tail. A band of white hair is across the forehead. The underparts vary from off-white to black.

GESTATION PERIOD: approx. 35 days
MOST LIKE: Occasionally confused with the Porcupine although the hedgehog’s brownish colour, small size and short spines easily distinguish it from the much larger, long-spined, black and white porcupine.
HABITAT: A wide variety of habitats providing dry soil and dry cover for daytime shelter. A plentiful supply of insects, worms and roots is essential.

<< Image credit: Joseph & Uschi Pomerleau

Hedgehogs search for food after dark, and locate their food by smell and hearing rather than sight. The hedgehog can eat up to one third of its weight every day. Its diet consists of worms and insects, small rodents, frogs, slugs, the eggs and young of ground nesting birds, and vegetable matter which includes roots and fruit. Hedgehogs can sometimes be seen after rain foraging for earthworms. Their resting time is mostly in daylight, when they curl up under cover of bush or grass or in a hole in the ground. They change shelter daily, except when the colder months come, as they hibernate during that time, only emerging to eat during warm spells. Hedgehogs are fairly vocal, and communicate in a series of grunts and snuffles. When alarmed, they emit a high-pitched cry. Although they generally move slowly, they are capable of moving quickly by rising high on their long legs. Usually litter size is two to four (although it has been known to reach 11), and the young are born during the summer months.


The Southern African Hedgehog is a small, nocturnal animal covered in short, prickly spines. Their faces, limbs and tails are covered with dark brown or greyish-brown hair. When in danger, they roll into a ball, and are then safe from most predators: a notable exception to this is the eagle owl, whose long, sharp talons are more than a match for the hedgehogs short spines.


• Hluhluwe Game Reserves
• Kruger National Park
• St Lucia Wetlands

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