NaamloosTaxonomie

Afrikanische Weißbauchigel gehören unter den Säugetieren zur Klasse der Insektenfresser. Sie gehören der Gattung Atelerix an, welche eine Gattung in der Unterfamilie der wahren Igel ist. Atelerix beinhaltet alle afrikanischen Igelarten.

Überordnung:    Animalia (Tiere)
Stamm:              Chordata (Chordatier)
Klasse:               Mammalia ( Säugetiere)
Unterordnung:   Eulipotyphla (Insektenfresser)
Familie:              Erinaceidae (Igel)
Gattung:             Atelerix (afrikanischer Igel)
Art:                     Atelerix albiventris (afrikanischer Weißbauchigel)

Verbreitung

Der afrikanische Weißbauchigel ist hauptsächlich in Zentral Afrika, vom Senegal üb er Somalia bis südwärts zu Nord Zambia zu finden. Sie sind dort in halb Wüstengebieten (Sahelzone) anzutreffen und leben zwischen den Büschen, Stämmen und in kleinen Höhlen zwischen Steinen. Sie sind leichte Oberflächen gewohnt und bewohnen trockene Gebiete mit lichter Bepflanzung. In den Halbwüsten variieren die Temperaturen in den Sommernächten zwischen  22 und 26 Grad Celsius und können im Laufe des Tages über 40 Grad Celsius ansteigen. Während dieser hohen Temperaturen verstecken sich die Igel in kühlen Höhlen und schattigen Gebieten. In den extrem heißen Sommermonaten können die Tiere eine sogenannte Sommerruhe halten. Im Winter sind die Nächte kühler, die Temperaturen aber niemals unter 17 Grad Celsius. Afrikanische Weißbauchigel halten während dieser kühlen Nächte eine kurzzeitige Winterruhe, welche jedoch niemals länger als ein paar Tage andauert. Sie sind jedenfalls widerstandsfähiger gegen die Hitze, als gegen Kälte.

Steppe climate

  • Average temp. above 18 °C
  • Ten months of drought
  • 2700 to 3500 hours of sun p/y

Rainseason

  • Two months p/y
  • 100-600 mm p/y
  • 25-75% humidity

Drying season

  • 10-25% humidity
  • Ten months per year

Temperatures

  • 25 – 42 °C, warm season
  • 15 – 21 °C, cold season

Flora

  • Grassland & savanna
  • Forest areas
  • Bushy areas

Fauna

  • During rainseason habitated by grazing animals.
  • Small animals are found yearround.

Fotos von Wikipedia.

Versucht man jedoch ihn in der Heimtierhaltung in diese Winterstarre/Sommerruhe zu bringen sind die Temperaturschwankungen meist zu schnell, als dass die Tiere angemessen darauf reagieren könnten, was sie meist in eine Schockstarre versetzt. Dieser Zustand ähnelt einer Winterruhe , kann jedoch tödlich enden, wenn das Tier nicht innerhalb weniger Stunden daran versterben kann, wenn es nicht schnellstmöglich gewärmt wird. Unter Berücksichtigung dieses Ereignisses, wird allen Haltern afrikanischer Weißbauchigel in Heimtierhaltung angeraten die Temperaturen so stabil wie nur möglich zu halten.

Die Grundtemperatur sollte zwischen minimal 22 Grad Celsius und maximal 35 Grad Celsius an warmen Tagen betragen.

Anatomy

Head

Forehead

Ears

Eyes

Nose

Mouth & teeth

Torso

Quills

An African Pygmy Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) is born with about 50 to 100 white and bendy quills, which at the birth are hidden under a thin layer of skin and come through after a couple of hours. As the hedgehog grows they go through a few phases in which quills fall out and new colored quills come through again. These quills become stronger, less bendy and intensify in color at each phase (which is called a quilling). The quilling phases can be seen at:

Two day of age

Now the first stronger quills will come through. They can be colored already, but some hoglets will keep the white quills for a while longer.

Two weeks of age

This is the first phase in which the colored quills come through and define their markings. This phase lasts about two days.

Four weeks of age

During this phase the color of the quills becomes more intense and they become less bendy. This phase lasts about three days.

Six weeks of age

In this phase the quills get sharper on the ends and visibly longer. The color intensifies again. The phase lasts between three and six days.

Eight weeks of age

This is the last phase in which the color intensifies again, making is easy to define their color and markings of the animal. The quills get realy sharp on the ends and this phase can be so extreme that some hoglets tend to get bald patches. The phase lasts about a week, but can last longer and can overlap the next phase.

Twelve weeks of age

In this phase the quills become less sharp again, but will get stronger and even less bendy. The quills on the forehead get their final lenght and are visibly longer than the quills on the rest of the body. The color stays about the same and the phase last just a few days.

Six to eight months of age

In this phase the color intensity degrades again. The lenght of the phase varies from a week up to two months. This is the last quilling phase they will go through and they quill very steadily.

After these quilling phases an African Pygmy Hedgehog sheds about two to five quills a month and the color degrades as they get older. if the hedgehog has an darkning factor (Umbrous or also called Algerian) the color can stay about the same after the last quilling.

Shape

The quills start from a hair follicle which keeps the quill hanging under the skin. From the hair follicle the quill starts blundt and runs slightly spherical to the middle. AFter than it goes down to the sharp end of the quill. The tip, which includes the last 3 to 6 mm, is slightly bended. This way their companion in  mating -or as pet, the owners- has no issues regarding the quills. The quills will lay flat and the tip will point down. However when they are in danger, the quills can be set up and the bended tip of the quill will point upwards and bring damage to the attacker. The position of the quills are determined by two paralel muscles which run from the forehead between the ears to the back hand. These muscles are called the ‘dorsal muscles’. When a hedgehog relaxes these muscles the quill lay flat. When the hedgehog tightens the muscles the quills will rise up.

Photos by Toni Gisone

Length

At birth the quills are only a few mm long and there is no distinction between the quills in lenght. As the hedgehog grows older and becomes an adult, the quills get longer and the difference in lenght of the quills in their skirt, on their back and on the forehead become clearer. On adult age the quills in the skirt ar the shortest (the line where the quills end and the fur begins): some of them are only 8 mm long. On the back the average is between 12 en 15 mm long and on the forehead they can grow to be 28 mm long! These forehead quills are used in the wild to bring damage to their prey. Small snakes can easily be punctured and killed before being eaten.

Air cushions and shafts

In the hair follicles are tiny air cushions. These are microscopical in size but do have a very important function. They prevent quills pushing into the skin and hedgehogs being damaged internally when under pressure. When a hedgehog falls off a big height or gets attacked by a predator, the air in these cushions gets divided into the eight air shafts that are located in the quills over the entire lenght of them. This way the quills stay in place and the hedgehog is less prone to damages and can continue after the attack. The quills themseves are a bit bendy and this combination functions like a trampoline effect.

Legs

Organs

Brains

Digestive system

Kidneys

Liver

Jacobson’s organ