About This Animal
SIZE: Six to eight inches; weight 18-25 ounces
RANGE: Senegal to Southern Somalia and Tanzania
HABITAT: Semi-arid areas and dry savannas
DIET: Insects, worms, snails, arthropods, lizards, snakes, nestling birds, small mammals, carrion, fruits, seeds, peanuts and roots
ON EXHIBIT: Classroom and Encounter Animal
African pygmy hedgehogs can detect prey two inches or more underground and can consume one-third of their body weight in food each night. They have an interesting defensive mechanism - they produce frothy saliva that they spread on the quills of their flanks when they sense danger.
The hedgehog's back is made up of two large muscles, which control the positioning of its quills. There are about 5,000 to 6,500 quills on the average hedgehog, and these are strong on the outer surface, but filled with air pockets on the inside. The hedgehog uses its quills to protect itself from predators, using muscles which draw their quilled skin to cover their full body. This form of defense is the hedgehog's most successful, but is usually their last resort.