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Hedgehogs are characteristic animals for having a body covered with useful thorns to protect themselves from predators. They have an excellent vision and smell to get their omnivorous diet, which ranges from fruits and fungi, to carrion and live animals such as earthworms, mammals or snakes, since they are immune to their venom. They are nocturnal animals and belong to the family Erinaceidae. In this article we will introduce you to the different types of hedgehogs, in addition to mentioning which are the sea urchins and if they are related to this terrestrial group.
South African hedgehog (Atelerix frontalis)
It inhabits Southern Africa, in areas with dense herbaceous plants, gardens and thickets. Its face is dark and has a white stripe on its neck, which separates its white spikes with brown stripes. Its legs have five fingers, measures from 15 to 20 centimeters and weighs from 260 to 600 grams. It is protected by CITES, the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, as it is in danger of extinction. In addition, its commercialization is very protected.
Eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus)
The hedgehog, or scientifically known as the Hemiechinus auritus, lives in the deserts of North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, so it has adapted with large ears to cool down in high temperatures. Their limbs are also longer than other hedgehogs and measure from 14 to 28 centimeters. Its barbs have stretch marks and measure up to 1.5 centimeters.
Moorish hedgehog (Atelerix algirus)
The Atelerix algirus,has a ventral region and light white face and its legs are very long. It is often confused with the European hedgehog, but the Moorish is distinguished by being smaller and more stylized. It measures from 18 to 25 centimeters. It is found in the Iberian Levant, the Balearic and Canary Islands and North Africa. It should be noted that it is a nocturnal mammal that feeds on large numbers of insects, worms or snails. In a very exceptional way, it can hunt invertebrate animals.
Ethiopic hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus)
It measures from 14 to 28 centimeters and is dark in color, both its mottled ventral area and its face, as well as its 2.5 centimeter long spikes. This size makes it one of the smallest hedgehogs out there, and the barbs on your back may be more wrinkled. It inhabits the deserts of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. One of the curiosities that characterizes it is that it can shrink completely into a ball, so all its spikes are extended outwards, and it is almost impossible to catch it. It is immune to the venom of scorpions which, in addition to snakes, are its main food.
European or common hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)
It inhabits the wooded areas, gardens and hedges of Europe, Scandinavia and western Russia. During the winter it hibernates in hollows,in firewood or leaf nests. It is dark in color and measures from 20 to 30 centimeters and can weigh up to 800 grams. Within this species two types are classified:
- The Western European hedgehog: it is also known as the Western European hedgehog. It has a very developed sense of smell, as it can smell buried food 3 centimeters deep.
- Eastern Europe: it ranges from Asia to Germany. He never digs, but prefers to create nests with grass.
Somali hedgehog (Atelerix sclateri)
It is very similar to A. albiventris, but they differ because it has hind legs with five toes instead of four. Its belly is white and its abdomen black, also with dark legs. As its name suggests, it is endemic to Somalia. An interesting fact about this hedgehog is that it is born blind and, babies, are born with the barbs under the skin, as if they were pimples that then go outside.
Hindu hedgehog (Hemiechinus collaris)
It is a digger species that inhabits Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Russia, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Mongolia. Their burrows can measure from 30 to 150 centimeters, depending on how compact the soil is. It is a relatively small hedgehog that measures 17 centimeters and weighs 200 or 500 grams.
It feeds on insects, snakes, bird eggs and scorpions, approximately for 5 hours at dawn. There have also been cases of cannibalism, where the female eats her young. It is a curious hedgehog because the male has a ritual before mating with the female that consists of “dancing” in front of her the days before said mating.
Oriental hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor)
Erinaceus concolor is light in color, with a white circle on the belly. It inhabits near rivers, wetlands, forests, grasslands and steppes, from Germany to Russia, Poland, Turkey and Azerbaijan. It nests on grass. At first, it was included in the same species as the European hedgehog, but after several physiological and morphological studies, it was decided that it was a different species.
Balkan hedgehog (Erinaceus romanicus)
It is similar to E. concolor,but lacks the white patch on the belly and also has the ability to make burrows to inhabit,nest and shelter. It is distributed throughout Eastern Europe to Ukraine, Russia and Western Siberia, also passing through the Adriatic islands. Although it closely resembles a mole in its brown color, this hedgehog has up to five different subspecies which are:
- Erinaceus roumanicus roumanicus.
- Erinaceus roumanicus bolkayi.
- Erinaceus roumanicus drozdovskii.
- Erinaceus roumanicus nesiotes.
- Erinaceus roumanicus pallidus.
Naked-bellied hedgehog or Madras hedgehog (Paraechinus nudiventris)
The barbs of the bare-bellied hedgehog are short and dark in color, while its face and belly are light in color. They inhabit thickets with acacias and rocky soils. They are endemic to south India, but have come to be considered extinct in different places. Even so, it has been seen by some states of southeastern India.
Other types of hedgehogs
Next, we are going to mention six more types of hedgehogs that exist:
- Manchurian hedgehog(Erinaceus amurensis).
- Gobi hedgehog(Mesechinus dauuricus).
- Indian hedgehog(Paraechinus micropus).
- Hugh’s hedgehog(Mesechinus hughi).
- Brandt’s hedgehog(Paraechinus hypomelas).
- African pygmy hedgehog(Atelerix albiventris).
Types of sea urchins
In addition to the land hedgehogs of the family Erinaceidae there are sea urchins, but they are not at all related or morphologically the same. They are called hedgehogs because they also have spikes, but these are grouped globularly around a calcareous skeleton covered with epidermis. They belong to the class of echinoids, related to starfish. They are divided into subclasses, although most are already extinct:
- Cidaroidea: has separate barbs.
- Euechinoidea: it does not have the barbs so far apart.
Tobacco ((Cidaris cidaris)
It is a cidaroid with spikes of different lengths, the primary ones are long of light gray colors with green tips and the secondary short light green. They are covered by small algae. They inhabit the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Diadem hedgehog(Diadema antillarum)
This euechinoidea has very long, sharp and fragile black spines on average of 10 centimeters, which are frequently stepped on by tourists,as these hedgehogs are associated with coral reefs. If this is the case, the barbs can break inside the skin, causing infections if they are not removed or absorbed by the body.
Sea chestnut(Paracentrotus lividus)
It is dark brown and 7 centimeters in diameter, with few thorns. This species of hedgehog is used for human consumption in the Mediterranean Sea, in the form of seafood. Their communities are shrinking due to climate change, reducing the economic potential, but more importantly, the gene pool of an endemic Mediterranean species.
Flower hedgehog (Toxopneustes pileolus)
This is a poisonous hedgehog with two toxins released in its pedicels: contractin A causes a hemoagglutination and neuronal transmission failure in the muscles, while pedoxin reduces body temperature, is sedative, decreases muscle activity and leads to an anesthetic coma. These toxins are used to defend against its predators. It feeds on marine detritus, algae and small organisms such as bryozoa. Read this article to know the Classification of algae.