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Dung Hedgehog

names in other languages

Afrikaans Krimpvarkie 

Shona Shoni 

Zulu Nhloni

Tswana Tlhong

unusual features/differences from similar animals

The hedgehog can only be confused with the the porcupine, although porcupines have long quills and are very much larger.

visible male/female differences

No visible differences

habitat and distribution

A wide variety of habitats although they do not occur in desert and high-rainfall areas. They prefer semi- arid and sub-temperate areas.


Mostly invertebrates- millipedes, and insects, but may take frogs and lizards, mice, eggs and chicks, carrion and fungi.


Breeds during summer months. Gestation is 35 days and there are usually 3-4 in a litter. Newborn young are blind and naked and only the tips of the spines can be seen. The spines grow through the skin 1-3 hours after birth and are replaced at 4-6 weeks at which time the young begin to forage with their mother. Young are weaned at 5 weeks and are independent at 6-7 weeks.

Despite the spines which provide protection against other carnivores, Giant eagle owls (Bubo lacteus) eat hedgehogs in large numbers.

behavior and habits

Hedgehogs are mostly nocturnal, resting in dense vegetation under debris, under logs, or burrows. Semi-permanent resting sites used only by females with young or during winter. May be seen in daytime during the rainy season.

They are solitary, encounters are noisy with much snuffling and snorting and head butting. Hedgehogs move slowly when foraging but can run at 7 km/h. Prey is found by  smell and is rooted out from litter and under rocks and logs. They are noisy and rely more on the spines than concealment for protection against predators. When disturbed they curl up and pull the spiny skin on its back down over its head and legs to form a ball of spines. When temperatures are low, day length is under 11 hours, or food availability is low, they become inactive.

When such conditions get worse, extended periods of inactivity result.


Sniffing, growling and snorting. The alarm call is a high-pitched screech.

dung and field sign

Dung is produced in cylinders with rounded ends, about 1 cm thick and up to 5 cm long, commonly containing fragments of insect carapaces.