Four-toed Hedgehog

Four-toed Hedgehog
Photo by: Keeper. Source: Creative Commons

Four-toed Hedgehog, Atelerix albiventris, oval bodied nocturnal insectivore with long snout, short limbs, and short tails, called Túrùkú or Ọya in Yoruba, belonging to the Erinaceidae family of placental mammals. Their body is covered in over 3,000 short spines, which are simply modified hairs made from keratin. Only this spike is exposed, offering protection against predators when the hedgehog curls its body into a ball. In a relaxed state, the spikes lie flat against the animal’s body. Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, but excellent senses of smell and hearing. They are omnivores that consume a variety of meat, vegetables, and fruits in the wild. They have canine teeth like a cat or human. As the Yoruba say, Eni to ba ti ri eyin Oya, yoo ti mo pe oko lo fi nje, meaning, anybody who has seen the hedgehog’s teeth will know that it cuts grass with it. This nocturnal omnivore is found in savannah and large area of flat unforested grassland in Nigeria.

Also known as African pygmy hedgehog, this species is the smallest of hedgehog, a family of spiny mammals. It is commonly around 25 cm long and weigh between 350 and 700 g. Gestation is for only 35 days and lifespan is typically 4 to 6 years.