This species is found widely throughout much of northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Its range extends all over the Sahara from Morocco to Egypt to Syria and Iraq.
Paraechinus aethiopicus is well adapted to arid, drought-like conditions. It lives in hot, dry deserts but can also be found in vegetated areas of an oasis or coast.
Paraechinus aethiopicus carries an armament of dorsal spines from the base of its head to its rear, leaving the top of its head bald. These spines are hollow and pale brown with dark tips. The color of the ventral side and feet is a variable combination of brown, black, white, solid brown or solid white. The muzzle and mask are black with lighter bands on the forehead. Paraechinus aethiopicus is larger than the other species of hedghog that shares its region, Hemiechinus auritus, but quite similar otherwise.
The reproductive pattern of this species is not well documented, but it is known that not all of the offspring of a litter survive to adolesence. Some die soon after birth, and it has been reported that females sometimes cannibalize their young, probably in times of food shortage.
Deaf and blind, a young P. aethiopicus is born fairly helpless. It is born with its spines for some protection; however, during the actual birth the spines remain under the skin, which no doubt makes labor easier on the mother. The young weigh about 8 or 9 grams at birth, and their eyes open in 23-29 days. After about 40 days they begin eating solid food (in addition to mother's milk).
Typically, the lifespan of a hedgehog in the wild is 3-4 years. In captivity they have been known to live as long as 10 years. The lifespan of this particular species, however, has not been documented.
During the daytime, members of this species rest near rocks and cliffs. This allows them protection while they sleep, hiding them from birds of prey. They sleep on their sides, so their spines give them little protection while at rest. They hunt at night. Insects and other prey congregate near coastline or inland vegetation around an oasis, which is why P. aethiopicus can often be found in these areas. During prolonged periods of cold weather, these hedgehogs hibernate, waking periodically to forage for food. These periods of hibernation may be necessary as a result of the poor insulation offered by their spines.
This species is mainly insectivorous, but it eats a variety of foods when they are available. It is not, however, thought to eat plant matter. One other interesting note is that P. aethiopicus, like other hedgehogs, has a high tolerance for snake and insect venoms, estimated to be 30 to 40 times that of a similar sized rodent. This protects them while hunting venomous or stinging prey.
Prey include: insects, small invertebrates, the eggs of ground-nesting birds, frogs, snakes and scorpions.
The spines of this species, and other hedgehogs, are the main tool for escaping predators. It tucks its head into its ventral region and effectively rolls into a ball. This exposes only its spines to a potential predator, making it difficult to eat.
The role that this species plays in its desert ecosystem is not well studied.
Hedgehogs may help to control pest populations through their predation on insects and other invertebrates.
There are no adverse effects of P. aethiopicus on humans.
By all accounts, this species is not endangered and is, in fact, quite common in some parts of its range.
The phylogeny of this species has been disputed. It is sometimes classified in the genus Hemiechinus and sometimes in the genus Paraechinus. Up to five subspecies have been recognized. Hedgehogs have become a fairly common pet in North America and Europe; however, the common pet hedgehog is actually a hybrid of two other African species, not Paraechinus aethiopicus.
Dustin Hall (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Bret Weinstein (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
fertilization takes place within the female's body
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
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