The African hedgehog is one of the most fashionable and popular pets, which, perhaps, everyone who loves animals like guinea pigs , hamsters , rabbits and other animals who are similar in their maintenance are eager to get .
But not everyone knows that this charming pet is actually not such a domestic one, moreover, the term “African hedgehog” hides completely different species.
Features and habitat
Before you buy an African hedgehog you need to clarify that the breeder sells exactly what he wants to have, since these animals are of several types that differ in appearance:
- South African;
However, the differences relate only to the appearance of animals, habits, habitat and in general, the nature of all species are similar.
Algerian hedgehog representatives live in nature not only in the place of their historical origin, that is, in Algeria and Tunisia, but also in Europe, for example, in Spain and in the south of France they can be found much more often than the usual “indigenous” hedgehogs. They got here on merchant ships at a time when North Africa was colonial and very quickly settled.
At length, “Algerians” grow up to 25-30 cm, needles, face and paws are brown, without red shades, closer to coffee with milk, and the body itself is much lighter. These hedgehogs run very fast, in general they are very curious and mobile, it is not recommended to lock up African hedgehogs of this species into the cages , since they practically do not tolerate the limited space.
At home, such hedgehogs feel great, living in large aviaries or just on the territory, they are very curious and very social, easily accustomed to the tray and in many respects resemble an ordinary cat, especially when they roll on soft furniture.
They rarely get sick, but they are very susceptible to “hedgehog” viruses, for example, Archaeopsylla erinacei maura, therefore, if you plan to participate in hedgehog shows or any other contacts with relatives, you should definitely get vaccinations.
South African species distributed in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana and Lesotho.
These hedgehogs are smaller than the Algerian ones; they grow up to 20 cm in length, but they weigh an average of 350 to 700 grams. The muzzle, paws and needles of this species are dark brown, black and chocolate, the tummy is a bit lighter, but always the same tone as the needles, but on the forehead there is always a clear, bright vertical strip.
Unlike their Algerian congeners, these hedgehogs do not run fast, on the contrary, they move slowly, waddling. They quietly tolerate the closeness of the territory and love to eat and sleep very much. They are calm about “manual” human attention, but they are very afraid of sharp and loud sounds. Resistant to all diseases, but poorly tolerate drafts.
This species lives in the northern part of Somalia, and on numerous photos of African hedgehogs , these animals are most often depicted, as of all, only “Somalis” have incredibly expressive “cartoon” faces and clearly marked eyes.
In length, this type of hedgehogs reaches 18-24 cm, and weighs an average of 400-600 grams. Brown or chocolate needles, little body, paws and muzzle of a delicate coffee or grayish color, on the face “mask”, there may be spots throughout the little body in the color of the mask.
When the content they are not particularly whimsical, but small cells can not stand, but if the door is open, then walking around the apartment will definitely return to the cell voluntarily.
The white-bellied species is most often sold as a pet, therefore it is the most recognizable. Outwardly, these hedgehogs are very similar to the Somali ones, with the only difference being that their color is dominated by grayish, not coffee tones.
In nature, they live in Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan, Senegal and Ethiopia. This hedgehog is a restless pet, since it is not a “collector” but a “hunter”, with a leading nightlife. In nature, white-bellied prey on snakes, frogs and other not very large animals, and in terms of housing content they will hunt on vases with cookies, packages with cereals and everything they see.
These hedgehogs are very dexterous, capable of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles for them, for example, to climb on the table or on the windowsill.
In nature, like other relatives, they can hibernate due to the weather or lack of food, they do not hibernate at home. They don’t live in cages under any conditions, as they do in aviaries, but they will gladly settle in the usual “cat-like” house, which is apart from drafts and directly on the floor.
This breed of hedgehogs are excellent micelles; in addition, they are tied to their territory and expel all from it — from neighbour’s cats to moles and honeymocks. Life in a private house for the white monkeys is more preferable than in a city apartment, where the hedgehog will certainly begin to conflict with the cat, and with the dog and “hunt” for food.
When it is planned for the first time to get an African hedgehog at home , it is usually meant exactly this variety. These charming creatures grow in length from 15 to 20 cm, while the African dwarf hedgehog , unlike the others, is endowed with a pronounced and noticeable tail, they have 2-3 cm tails. Mostly similar with Algerian.
Character and way of life
Home African hedgehog, no matter what type it originally belongs to, adapts to the general household structure and daily routine, but the nature of the pet does correspond directly to its variety.
That is, for example, no matter how much food there is in a bowl, and no matter how hard the light of a night lamp is left in the evenings, the white-bellied hedgehog will still go hunting after sunset. This must be taken into account, because even if such an animal is locked up for the night in a cage, it will “fight” with rods until the morning and make it very noisy.
South African will never play with children, moreover, with too intrusive attention from the child can bite him. Just as badly, this variety carries noisy large families; in such apartments, the hedgehog will look for where to hide, refuse food, and in general, bring not total joy to its owners, but complete disappointment. But for a single person this species is the best company, constantly sleeping, always in one place, likes to eat and does not make noise.
The content of the African hedgehog of the Algerian variety is absolutely no different from the content of the cat, to which these animals are similar in their character. Such a hedgehog, for example, may well become a favorite for his sleep master’s feet, or lie down next.
Moreover, the change of night and day is completely unimportant for this species, they are very easily adapted to any way of life and diet, except for isolating themselves in the cells.
Somalis are most similar in their behavior and character to guinea pigs. But, like many hedgehogs, do not like to be locked. This species will not come to sleep on the next pillow, but it will not hunt at night either.
However, it is necessary to go around all the “possessions” several times a day, while snorting and stamping. Somali — the only «Africans». Who will persistently do in their «house» food reserves, so before you feed your pet, finding an empty bowl. It is necessary to check where the previous portion of food has migrated — in the stomach or in the “bedroom”.
The dwarf species has the most appeasable and simplest character of all, can sit in a cell for a day, while all people are at work, in principle, it will just wake the clock.
However, in the evenings, the hedgehog turns into a “companion” and it must be “released”, picked up, played, scratched the tummy with a brush, and so on. It is not necessary to force the pet into the cage, the hedgehog will be back there in the morning, the main thing is that it has access to its “home”.
All types of these pets absolutely do not need a “family” of their own kind, but can live in pairs, in the presence of a spacious aviary or open country conditions.
African females are always larger than males by 1-2 cm and heavier by 70-100 grams. Outwardly, the color of the females is not inferior to the colors of the males, and the floor does not affect the nature of the animal.
The question of how to feed an African hedgehog usually comes up when the hedgehog himself has already arrived at his new home. In principle, these animals are completely omnivorous. They are happy to gnaw a bag of dry dog food and drag “delicious” crackers to their lodge, finish the cat canned food left in the bowl, gnaw up the cookies standing on the table, and in general, even pretend to be thawed chicken or cooled in an oven.
The hedgehog will eat everything that will be given to him, from pickles to biscuits, but this approach is unacceptable due to the fact that these animals are very prone to overeating and obesity. Pet food must be balanced, be sure to include raw fresh vegetables and fruits, but also must contain animal proteins.
Once a day, a piece of raw poultry or meat is needed by a hedgehog, of course, one should not forget about milk and sour cream, which are so loved by these animals, dairy products should be present in the pet’s diet at least three times a week. In addition, the easiest way to add milk or sour cream is vitamin oil supplements, for example, “A”, “D” and “E”, which are necessary for health and beautiful appearance.
Small ezhat should eat 6 to 8 times in small portions, and an adult pet may well be limited to two meals. However, in practice, the nutrition of hedgehogs in the conditions of an apartment or house does not have any distinctions, and is more like the nutrition of cats, that is, when asked, if, of course, the pet is not contained in an isolated aviary.
Reproduction and longevity
In nature, these animals breed once a year, but with home keeping they can bring two litters. The pregnancy of the female lasts a little more than a month — from 32 to 36 days, and from 2 to 8 ezhat are born, each of which weighs 8-10 grams, is blind and generally looks like a newborn hamster .
Hedgehogs grow up at the age of a year, but are completely independent of nutrition and other life aspects from parents as early as 4-5 months, it is customary to sell the ejat at the age of six months.
If you want to breed these pets, you need to pick up not only the colors of the African hedgehog that are interesting for crossing, but also a spacious enclosure in which two independent animals can get along at a time when they will not play their own kind, that is, large An open-air cage with thoughtful «sanitary» details. These animals live in nature from 3 to 4 years, in captivity for 10 years and more.
African hedgehog at home
This animal, regardless of its species, is almost as if created to be a pet. And these animals are kept in houses and apartments for a very long time, back in the 19th century they contained hedgehogs, therefore any description of them will necessarily be mostly devoted to the behavior of animals in the house, and not in nature.
The only difficulty that inexperienced owners may encounter is the hedgehog’s gluttony, which leads to excess weight, difficulty of movement and to earlier aging and death.
The rest of the hedgehog is just an ideal pet, of course, if you get the kind that is as close as possible to your own way of life, or you can buy a dwarf hedgehog that easily adapts to everything in general.
The price of African hedgehogs depends on many things, including their variety. The cheapest are the mestizos, which were born because of carelessness or because of the experiments of the owners — from 2 to 4 thousand rubles.
The cost of a white-bellied hedgehog averages 6-7 thousand rubles, and a dwarf hedgehog is about 12 thousand rubles. Algerians and Somalis will be cheaper — from 4,000 to 5,000. These are average prices in pet stores, however, among private ads it is quite possible to find a hedgehog many times cheaper or for free.