African Pygmy Hedgehog
The African pygmy hedgehog is indeed a curious creature that is native to Africa but can be found in zoos (and homes) around the globe. Weighing in at around 1 – 1.5 lbs (0.5 - 0.7 kg), this tiny little critter usually averages from 6-8 inches (15 - 20 cm) in length and has a pointed snout, round (dark) eyes, and unbarbed spines that serve as hair on their sides and backs. Oddly enough, the African pygmy hedgehog has four toes on its back feet but five on its front. While this hedgehog has relatively keen eyesight, they depend more on their acute and overdeveloped sense of hearing and smell to detect tasty morsels for dinner that can be buried more than two inches below the ground. The lifespan of the African pygmy hedgehog is around two to three years in the wild, or as many as ten years in captivity. Those who have begun to breed these little guys find that they have a rapid reproductive cycle – gestation is only 35 days – and babies are sexually mature and ready to breed at around two months of age! Litters can be 6-8 or more.
Odd Little Hedgehogs
The African pygmy hedgehog is a nocturnal creature that begins foraging at dusk and continues to do so through most of the night, but always in a solitary fashion. In fact, male African pygmy hedgehogs stay at least 60 feet (18 m) apart from one another. The African pygmy, like most other hedgehogs, can roll himself (or herself) into a ball, tucking its head, feet, and belly securely inside if it becomes frightened. And when it does become scared or angry, it can chirp, hiss, and growl or (depending on how mad you make it) let out a loud scream!
Very Unique Pygmy Behavior
This pygmy hedgehog has a unique behavior of "self-anointing". Self-anointing occurs when the hedgehog discovers a unique scent or taste – he will react by creating a frothy type of saliva that he proceeds to spread across his body during a series of amazing contortions. Scientists are unsure is the African pygmy self-anoints in preparation for mate selection or in self defense.
Food for the African Pygmy
The little spiny critter is not your typical picky eater. Dining on a diet of all kinds of spiders and insects, the African pygmy hedgehog has also been known to eat poisonous scorpions without any ill effect to his health!