Algerian Hedgehog

North African hedgehog[1]
A North African hedgehog in the Balearic Islands
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Erinaceomorpha
Family: Erinaceidae
Genus: Atelerix
Species: A. algirus
Binomial name
Atelerix algirus
(Lereboullet, 1842)
North African hedgehog range

The North African hedgehog (Atelerix algirus), or Algerian hedgehog, is a species of mammal in the Erinaceidae family. It is found in Algeria, France, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Spain, and Tunisia. Little is known about this species of hedgehog, even though the most common breed of domesticated hedgehogs is a result of crossing a Four-toed hedgehog with a North African hedgehog. Because this species of hedgehog is native to Africa, it has been suggested that it was introduced by humans to the other countries where it is now found, including France and Spain (including the Canary Islands). Of the four African species of hedgehogs, the North African hedgehog is the only one of these hedgehogs that can be found outside the continent of Africa.[3] Because the North African hedgehog has such a wide habitat range and has a seemingly stable population, both in the wild and in the domesticated capacity, it does not appear to be at risk at this time.

Physical description

The North African hedgehog closely resembles the European hedgehog, however, there are several distinct differences between the two species. The North African hedgehog tends to be smaller than its European counterpart, measuring anywhere from 200 to 250mm long.[2] However, it is larger than the other African species of hedgehogs and has a longer snout and longer legs, making it a faster runner. Its face is light in color, usually appearing to be white, and the legs and head are brown. The underbelly of this animal can vary in color, and is often either brown or white in color. Its ears are highly visible on the head of the animal and are large in size. The body is covered in soft spines that are primarily white with darker banding.[4] It is most distinguishable from physically similar relatives by the lack of spines on the crown of the head, meaning a lack of the widow's peak.[5]

Habitat

Very little is actually known about the preferred habitat of the North African hedgehog. It has been found in Mediterranean conifer and mixed forest climates as are present in southern mountainous regions of Spain and northern Africa.[6] In northern Africa, it can be found from Morocco to Libya, but is not able to survive in dry desert regions around this area. It can be found in other warmer regions as well, including parts of France, the Canary Islands, and the Balearics. Within these regions, it can often be spotted in garden and park areas.[4]

Reproduction

The gestation period for this species of hedgehog ranges from 30 to 40 days and the litter size can vary between 3 to 10 hoglets. This species often produces two litters in a season. The hoglets generally weigh between 12 to 20 grams each.[4] The season for reproduction is from October to March. It reaches sexual maturity at about eight to ten weeks of age, and does not mate for life. That is, this hedgehog does not participate in pair bonding.[7]

References

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