African Pygmy Hedgehogs belong to the insectivores in the class of the Mammals. They belong to the genus Atelerix, which is one of the genera in the subfamily of the true Hedgehogs. The Atelerix include all hedgehogs from Africa.
Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Chordata (Chordates)
Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
Order: Eulipotyphla (Insectivores)
Family: Erinaceidae (Hedgehogs)
Genus: Atelerix (African Hedgehogs)
Species: A. albiventris (African Pygmy Hedgehogs)
Atelerix albiventris or African Pygmy Hedgehogs live in Central Africa from Senegal to Somalia and southwards towards Zambia. The region is called the Sahel, a subsaharan area with forestry, grasslands and bushy regions but also a lot of open ground. They live in small caves between rocks, in tree trunks or bushes and sometimes in abandoned holes made by slighty larger animals. They like a softer surface and live in very dry areas with relatively few plants.
The halfdesert has an average temperature that varies between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius in summer nights, which may rise above 40 degees Celsius in the day. With those temperatures , the hedgehogs reside underground where it’s cooler. In extremely hot summers, they might even have a summer sleep (aestivation). In the winters when the temperature drops, it still never goes below 17 degrees Celcius. They can have a short winter rest (hibernation) of a few days at most. Logically, these hedgehogs are very prone to cold, whilst being resistent to very high temperatures.
When a hedgehog in captivity tries to hibernate, the temperature often changes too quickly to appropriately respond to the situation. This can cause a situation very similar to getting into a shock. It looks similar to hibernation, but this shock is fatal and the hedgehog dies if not warmed up in time. The hedgehog’s body will tell its brain that it needs body heat to protect its most important organs: the heart and lungs. In order to do that, the body will shut off other organs that have a less important role, often starting with liver, kidneys and digestive system. Each time a hedgehg goes into shock, it will do a lot of damage in these organs and can cause a list of serious illnesses. With that in mind, it’s adviced to house these hedgehogs in an enclosure with a higher temperature year-round and as stable as possible. The minimum temperature is 22 degrees Celcius with a maximum of 30 degrees Celcius in summer. However, always check up on your hedgehog to see if it’s too warm or too cold for your hedgehog as some are more prone to warmth or cold.
|Steppe climate |
Average temp. above 18 °C
Ten months of drought 2700 to 3500 hours of sun p/y
Two months p/y 100-600 mm p/y
Ten months per year
25 – 42 °C, warm season
15 – 21 °C, cold season
Grassland & savanna
During rainy season inhabitated by large grazing animals and predators
Small animals are found year-round
Other animals in their habitat
Living in the subsaharan regions of Africa, African Pygmy Hedgehogs live together with a wide variety of other animals. During the entire year, animals like the Senegal gerbil, Horn Viper and Hussar Monkeys roam around the Sahel. Even though the Sahel is known for its widespread variety of animals, just a few species are found year-round as most species flee to colder regions in summer. A few animals that only visit the Sahel in its colder period are listed in the Big Five: the African elephant, the African lion and the Cheetah. If you think of the Big Five and you think you are missing the rhino, that’s correct! The White Rhinoceros is believed to be extinct or near extinct in the wild and the IUCN has no record of them currently roaming in the Sahel region. They are (re)introduced in southern parts of Africa to hopefully let the number of rhino’s increase by having a better protection in those area’s. Other inhibitants of the Sahel are a number of apes, babboons, hyena’s, gazelle’s, antilopes and birds who roam around in the Sahel during the rainy seasons.