Types of Hedgehogs

Types of Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs have been living in the wild for millions of years. These spiny mammals come from the family of Erinaceidae. They’re global creatures. You’ll find them all around the world including Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and Asia as well. They are friendly nocturnal animals and some species also make for a good pet.

Hedgehogs are distinctive and easy to spot mammals thanks to the spines on their back. These spines are made up of keratin and are among the most important parts of a hedgehog as they protect them from threats and also helps them hide (camouflage).

These tiny mammals do not harm people unless provoked. However, when they sense danger, they curl up in a ball and have their quills pointed out. These quills are pointy and very sharp, and their job is to hurt anyone or anything that tries to get close.

They’re insectivore and love to live in wild. Their lifespan is between 2 to 5 years. They spend a large part of their day sleeping.

There are sixteen types of hedgehogs. Some can be kept as pets while some are better off in the wild for both their safety and ours. Moreover, you may need a permit to keep these animals as pets.

Let’s get to know the different species of hedgehogs:

The Atelerix Family

1. Atelerix Albiventris/African Pygmy Hedgehog/Four Toed Hedgehog

Found In: They are found in the sub-saharan region of Central Africa. They are considered as the least concerning type of hedgehog among all as they are available in abundance.

Physical Appearance: Four toed hedgehogs grow up to be 13 to 30 cm in length and weigh between 14 and 39 ounces. You’ll find them in different colors. Some have brown spines with creamy tips while some have grey spines with white or creamy tip ends. Nonetheless, they mostly have a white body and a dark looking spine area.

Unique Features: African Pygmy Hedgehogs self-anoint to protect itself against danger. It collects a large amount of saliva and spreads over to the spines.

Habitat: This specie loves to live in rocky or grassy area and avoids dense forests as it prefers a temperature between 24C and 30C. In hot weathers it looks for shelter or goes into a state of estivation for up to six weeks (inactivity during higher temperature to slow metabolic rate).

Similarly, when the temperature begins to fall, it goes into hibernation.

Eats: African Pygmy Hedgehogs love to eat snails, spiders, insects, grubs, plant matter, and small vertebrates as well.

Can I Keep African Pygmy Hedgehog As Pets?

Yes. In fact, they’re the most popular type of pet hedgehogs. Their lifespan ranges from 4 to 6 years and they are easy to care for. They can be fed with mealworms, crickets, grain-free cat food, veggies, fruits or hedgehog food, too.

They are mostly kept in a cage of 3 to 6 sq. ft. that has a shelter, bedding, and cat litter.

However, they can get obese which is why most owners install a running wheel inside the cage for them to run and stay in shape.

2. Atelerix Algirus/Algerian Hedgehog/ North African Hedgehog

Found In: These have many names: Atelerix Algirus, Algerian or North African Hedgehog. They are found in Malta, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Spain, and Tunisia.

Like the four-toed hedgehog, they are also not at risk as they are abundant in the population.

Physical Appearance: These have a close resemblance to the European hedgehogs. However, they’re smaller in size and grow up to be between 200 and 250 mm in length

They have a white face and brown head and legs and their underbelly can vary in color (brown or white). They have soft spikes which are usually dark.

Unique Features: They are fast runners and lack spikes on the crown.

Habitat: They prefer a warm climate and feel suited in semi-desert, arid, cultivated, grasslands, gardens, and pastures. However, they can’t survive in dry conditions.

Eats: Being omnivores, they love to eat arthropodes, terrestrial worms, birds, fungi, fruits, seeds, nuts, small vertebrates, and carrion.

Can I Keep North African Hedgehogs As Pets?

Technically, yes, but most US states prohibit the ownership of this hedgehog. These include Hawaii, Maine, Alabama, California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, New York, and Vermont.

3. Atelerix Frontalis/ Southern African Hedgehog

Found In: It goes by the name of Atelerix Frontalis and Southern African Hedgehog. This specie is found in Lesotho, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Physical Appearance: They have sharp white spines made with keratin and a muscle in each spine. They are usually brown but you may find some in other colors as well.

A male hedgehog can grow up to be 350 gms in weight when fully grown and 20 cm in length.

Unique Features: The most distinguishable feature of this hedgehog is the white stripes on the forehead, traveling down from one leg to another.

Habitat: They are nocturnal and prefer non-damp and grassy areas. In daytime, they hide under leaves and in holes and come out at night to feed.

Eats: They are insectivorous and love to eat crickets, slugs, beetles, grasshoppers, slugs, and earthworms. They may also consume small invertebrates such as lizards and frogs.  

Can I Keep Southern African Hedgehogs As Pets?

Yes, as they are very friendly and fun to play with. However, some states require a permit to own a hedgehog. You can keep them in a cage and feed usual hedgehog diet or occasional dog food.

4. Atelerix Sclateri/Somali Hedgehog

Found In: It is found on the outer borders of Somalia which is also why they are often called Somalian Hedgehogs.

Physical Appearance: They have a brown face and and dark brown spines with white bellies.

Unique Features: They have brown or black legs. The tip of their spines are lighter than the spines.

Habitat: It is found on open lands and grasslands only.

Eats: They eat insects and invertebrates.

Can I Keep Somali Hedgehog As Pets?

Little is known about this species and since they are not found in many regions, they are hardly kept as pets.

The Erinaceous Family

5. Amur Hedgehogs/Manchurian Hedgehog

Found In: They are found in the southern parts of Russia, China, and Korean Peninsula. They’re called Amur as they’re abundantly found in the lowland China, Amur Basin.

Physical Appearance: They are pale brown in color and often resemble the European hedgehogs. They have a short tail but a big size as they can grow up to 1 foot in length with a weight of 1000 grams. They are mostly white in color and have light brown or yellowish-gray spines.

Unique Features: Each quill on its head is separated with tiny strips of skin.

Habitat: This specie loves to live in grasslands, coniferous and woodlands where leaves are in abundance. You won’t find them in highlands or cultivated fields but only in lowlands.

Eats: It’s nocturnal which is why it’s common diet includes earthworms, centipedes, small arthropods, fly larvae, frogs, snails, mice, and fruits as well.

Can I Keep Somali Hedgehogs As Pets?

Yes. They are friendly and pose no threat to humans. However, they may not be legal in some states. In captivity, they can live up to 8 years.

6. Erinaceus Concolor/Southern White Breasted Hedgehog

Found In: It is found in Western Asia and Eastern Europe only.

Physical Appearance: They are often mixed up with other hedgehog species, however, they have a very distinctive trait. The white chest color spot in the chest area or the belly region separates them from the rest. Apart from that, they are large and heavy. They can weight up to be 720 grams and grow up to 23 cm.

Unique Features: Unlike European Hedgehogs, they don’t dig holes but prefer to build a nest on the grass.

Habitat: They prefer shrublands or terrestrial areas as their habitats, however, they can live in elevated regions as well.

Eats: They are omnivorous and prefer to eat terrestrial worms, birds, arthropodes, fungi, fruits, and small vertebrates.

Can I Keep Southern White Breasted Hedgehogs As Pets?

Yes, but you will need a permit from the state department.

7. Erinaceus Europaeus/European Hedgehog

Found In: Also known as common hedgehogs, they’re found in Europe, Iberia, Italy and Scandinavia.

Physical Appearance: They are brown in color and have the shortest tail among all hedgehog species (20 to 30mm). A fully grown European hedgehog can weigh up to 1100 grams but they usually double in weight during winters.

According to the Guiness Book Of World Records, they’re the largest hedgehogs in the world.

Unique Features: There are some European hedgehogs who have a blond color skin which is due to a rare kind of genes. They are not found easily except for two places, North Ronaldsay and the Channel Island of Alderney. You will find about 25% of all blonde European hedgehogs here.

Habitat: They can survive in many habitats including semi-natural vegetation environments, manmade places, grasslands, woodlands, meadows, pasture, and vineyards. They prefer to live in lowlands and have been found near human settlements as well.

Eats: They are omnivorous and love and love to eat invertebrates such as beetles, caterpillars, insects, slugs, fruits and earthworms are what they commonly prefer.

Can I Keep European Hedgehogs As Pets?

Yes. They can live up to 10 years but require a lot of care. In wild life, their average lifespan is 3 years because they often die in the hibernation phase due to starvation.

The law protects them in some countries including Denmark and Poland. They are also protected in European Countries with the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.

8. Erinaceus Roumanicus/ Northern White Breasted Hedgehog

Found In: You will find them in many areas including south of Greece and the Adriatic Islands, Poland, Austria, former Yugoslavia, East of Russia, and Ukraine.

Physical Appearance: They look quite similar to the European hedgehog except for a few differences which are a white chest and a different jaw structure than other hedgehogs

Unique Features: Apart from having a different jaw structure than most hedgehogs, this one has a dark skin fur and light spines with dark colored spine end.     

Habitat: Surprisingly, this specie prefers to live in an artificial habitat. Therefore, you’ll find them in parks, rural areas, urban and rural gardens, shrubby vegetation, etc.

Considering this, they can easily adapt to an artificial man-made habitat as well.

Eats: They prefer eating earthworms, insects, etc.

Can I Keep Northern White Breasted Hedgehogs As Pets?

People adore northern white breasted hedgehogs due to their fair skin. However, states such as New York City, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Georgia, Pennsylvania, California, and Arizona have banned them. In other states, you will need a permit to keep them as pets.

9. Hemiechinus Auritus/ Long Eared Hedgehog

Found In: These are native to the Middle East but you can also find them in parts of East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean. They love to dig burrows and live inside most of the time and are also very playful.

Physical Appearance: They are the smallest among all hedgehogs. Their head and body are 120mm to 270mm long while the skull is 38 to 40 mm long. They have the longest ears among all the hedgehogs which is why they are also called long eared hedgehogs.

The ears can be 30mm to 45mm long and they have an enhanced system of sensing scent and hearing as well.

Their spines are dark in color and lighter white on the tip and there isn’t much gap in between the spines like other hedgehogs.

They are lighter and faster than most hedgehogs and are also very easy to pet.

Unique Features: The most unique feature of this hedgehog is its long ears and its ability to fend off the needles when it senses danger.

Habitat: It prefers a moderate climate. It can die in hot desert-like temperature and in extreme cold, too. It loves to dwell in dry valleys, abandoned irrigation ditches, under burrows, rocks, etc.

Eats: It eats insects, plant matter, and meat as well. Slugs, beetles, snails, caterpillars, worms, mammal meat, bird eggs and millipedes make up its diet.

Can I Keep Long Eared Hedgehogs As Pets?

Yes. However, the problem with them is that they are susceptible to catching a plague since they are prone to parasites. If they catch a plague they can transmit the Boutonneuse fever.

Buy it from a reliable source to ensure it’s safe to keep as a pet.

10. Hemiechinus Collaris/ Indian Long Eared Hedgehog

Found In: They are quite different from a long eared hedgehog as you will find them only in hot and arid regions such as in India and Pakistan. They are comparatively smaller than most hedgehogs.

Physical Appearance: They have dark skin and have spines sheathed into their muscles. These hedgehogs can fend off their spines if they sense danger or when someone attacks them.

Unique Features: One of the most unique features apart from having long ears is their way of attracting the female partner by doing a ritual dance on a course of several days.

Habitat: They can survive in the desert, semi desert, arid, under rocks, and abandoned places.

Eats: Indian long eared hedgehogs are insectivorous. They eat more than other species as they usually live in dry conditions and fulfill their need of water by eating extra.

Can I Keep Indian Long Eared Hedgehogs As Pets?

While you can but it can be a lot of problems especially since you will have to import them from Asian. You will not easily find these pets in stores. This can be difficult and costly as well. Plus, you will also need permission from the state to keep Indian long eared hedgehogs as pets.

Moreover, they can only survive in hot temperature, which can be a problem for most people.

11. Mesechinus Dauuricus/Daurian Hedgehog

Found In: You’ll find these in the Transbaikal region of Russia and Northern Mongolia only.

Physical Appearance: They grow up to be 15 to 20 cm in length and can weigh up to 1 kilogram. They have short spines and a brownish body overall. The spines are darker with colored tips.

Unique Features: Their spines might be smaller but can help them in times of danger as they are very sharp despite their small size.

Habitat: They prefer hot regions and a warm climate and usually hibernate in winters. They can also survive in damp areas and forests.

Eats: They are strictly carnivorous and only prefer to eat other animals which includes bird eggs, rodents, meat, tiny reptiles and nestlings.

Can I Keep Daurian Hedgehogs As Pets?

There isn’t much information on this specific specie when it comes to keeping them as pets. However, you can ask for a permit from your state. However, they may not survive in very cold areas.

12. Mesechinus Hughi/Hugh’s Hedgehog

Found In: You will find these hedgehogs in Central China and Manchuria only.

Physical Appearance: They are among the lightest hedgehog species. A fully grown male adult weighs around 230 grams only while their length is around 20 cm.

They are usually gray or brown in color with light colored spines on the back.

Unique Features: What distinguishes this specie from many other types of hedgehogs is that it forages for food in daytime, too. While other hedgehog specie prefer to sleep in daytime, this one goes out in search of food and does not even stay hidden during rainy seasons.

Habitat: Places such as dry steppe and open lands are the kind of habitats that this hedgehog loves to live in. However, you will also find it in shrubby areas and forests.

Eats: Hugh’s hedge prefers both animal and plant food since it is mainly a carnivore animal. It usually consumes bird eggs, small reptiles, and mammal meat. However, some reports indicate that it can feed on plant matter as well.

Can I Keep Hugh’s Hedgehogs As Pets?

If you live in one of the states that prohibit the ownership of a hedgehog then you must ask for a permit to pet it.

13. Paraechinus Aethiopicus/ Desert Hedgehog

Found In: This specie is found in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Physical Appearance: Desert hedgehogs are both smaller and lighter in contrast to other species. They weigh between 280 and 510 grams and are 140 to 280 mm long. Desert hedgehogs are called so due to their appearance. The color of their skin and spines matches the color of desert sand.

They are somewhat identical to four-toed hedgehogs, however, they have a dark muzzle.

Unique Features: Their spines are longer than other hedgehogs and extend more when they are in danger and ready for attack.

Habitat:  They prefer to live in desert regions because they are the toughest hedgehogs. They have kidneys and can go without water for days.

Eats:  They eat baby snakes, invertebrates, and scorpions.

Can I Keep Desert Hedgehogs As Pets?

No. They require a hot climate to survive and are also very rough. Hence, they are not a good option to keep as pets.

14. Paraechinus Hypomelas/ Brandt’s Hedgehog

Found In: You will find this specie in various desert regions in Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Physical Appearance: They are dark in color, have longer ears, and can grow up to 10 inches in length. They weigh between 500 and 1000 grams and are known for their quick speed.

Unique Features: They perform a strange jumping action to surprise their prey when under attack. This helps keep attackers away.

Habitat: They prefer natural shelters, deserts, mountain areas, etc. Moreover, they spend winters hibernating.

Eats: It eats both plants and animals as it is an omnivore.

Can I Keep Brandt’s Hedgehogs As Pets?

Yes. But only if the climate is hot enough because they cannot bear too much cold.

15. Paraechinus Micropus/Indian Hedgehog

Found In: They look quite similar to a racoon and are found in India and Pakistan.

Physical Appearance: They have long ears and are quite fast but not as fast as long eared hedgehogs. They have unique spots and marks on thee face which makes them resemble a racoon. They can grow up to be 6 inches long in size and are known for their short tail, dark snouts, and bright eyes.

Unique Features:  Its claws are smaller but quite sharp and strong. This is also their unique feature as most hedgehogs do not have such sharp claws.

Habitat: It loves to live in places where water is in abundance such as high mountains, valleys, etc.

Eats: Its diet include toads, frogs, bird eggs, snakes, scorpions, etc.

Can I Keep Indian Hedgehog As Pets?

It can be quite difficult to find these hedgehogs as most dealers do not sell them. Moreover, you may need a state permit to own them as pets.

16. Paraechinus Nudiventris/ Bare Bellied Hedgehog

Found In: They were marked as extinct, however, a few were recently found in India.

Physical Appearance: They grow ten inches in length and weigh around a pound. They have a short tail that ranges between 1 and 3 cm. You can find them in different colors including black, brown, and white.

Unique Features:  They have a clear spotless belly which easily helps identify them. Plus, their small tail is also very unique.

Habitat: They prefer to live in dry and rocky places.

Eats: They are carnivores and feed on animals only.

Can I Keep Bare Bellied Hedgehog As Pets?

No, you cannot keep these as pets. You cannot buy them from stores as they were originally labelled extinct and are now critically endangered.

The Conclusion

Hedgehogs are cute creatures and pose no harm to humans unless teased or hurt. These were 16 types of hedgehogs that are scattered all around the globe. You can easily pick one that’s suitable for your region. However, make sure to get the required permits.