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African pigmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris)


The African hedgehog is an insectivorous mammal. The two most common species are the European (Erinaceus europaeus) and the African (Atelerix albiventris).
The African hedgehog comes from the savannas of the East and Central African regions. Hedgehogs are very active nocturnal predators, which travel many kilometers in search of insects, worms and snails, spending the hours of the day hidden in cavities and ravines.
The body, laterally and dorsally, is covered with a modified coat: the hairs that have turned into straight, smooth, elastic spines and well attached to the underlying skin which is devoid, in this area, of sebaceous glands. The gestation lasts about 40 days, at the end of which the babies are born hairy, with closed eyes and ears; the thorns begin to appear after a few hours. In case of danger, the animal "rolls up" and the quills rise!
Both males and females are territorial and solitary, meeting only during the mating period. Although young animals raised together can tolerate each other, once they reach sexual maturity they become aggressive towards their own kind.
As the hedgehog is a skilled climber, swimmer, digger, and constant walker, the cage will need to be escape-proof and large enough. The use of wooden cages is not recommended as the hedgehogs produce soft faeces which make it difficult to clean. It will be essential to make one or more hiding places available to the animal. The base used must be absorbent, soft, not dusty and replaced frequently.
Their ability to recognize their master has been demonstrated and, with great patience, it is possible to teach them simple commands and make them accept being manipulated.
The optimal temperature for curls is between 24 ° and 29 ° C. If the temperature drops below the minimum limit, the hedgehogs enter a state of torpor similar to hibernation, which will however be discouraged in captivity; in the autumn-winter period it will therefore be advisable to move them to a heated environment using, for example, a warm mat or a ceramic lamp. The humidity level must also be monitored, which must not be excessive.
Hedgehogs have a well-developed taste and hearing, while their eyesight is essentially monochromatic and have a good set of vocalizations. In captivity, the “light” dry food for cats is the most balanced basic food which, however, must be rationed throughout the day to prevent excessive weight gain (1-2 tablespoons / day). Different speech will be made for the females in reproduction and for the young in growth to whom the food must always be left available, and the administration of foods rich in calcium will be recommended.
In addition to the main food, wet foods (wet food for dogs / cats), fruit, vegetables and some insects (crickets, worms) can be administered sparingly every day, which can be used as a form of environmental enrichment, hiding them and thus stimulating research. of food. A balanced diet should not require supplementation of vitamins and minerals. Any changes in nutrition will need to be done very slowly and with extreme care. Water must always be left available.

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