African pygmy hedgehogs are a famous breed that people prefer keeping because of their small size. However, there are many species of hedgehogs other than the African pygmy, so how many species of hedgehog are there?
Hedgehogs is a genus, which includes Erinaceus, Paraechinus, Mesechinus, Atelerix, and Hemiechinus. Among the five genera of hedgehogs, there are 17 species found.
The 17 species of hedgehogs are found in different regions across the world including Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. All hedgehogs have adapted differently according to their environments.
For example, while European hedgehogs prefer to live in woodlands and hedges, Middle Eastern hedgehogs are found in deserts and rocky landscapes.
What are Hedgehogs Related To?
It is a common misconception that hedgehogs are related to porcupines. Both mammals share one similar characteristic, which is their quills. However, hedgehogs and porcupines are unrelated.
Hedgehogs are related to moonrats, shrews, and moles.
Along with being confused with porcupines, people believe that hedgehogs belong to the rodent family. However, hedgehogs come from the family Erinaceidae and are unrelated to rodents. On the other hand, porcupines belong to the rodent family.
There are stark differences between hedgehogs and rodents:
Hedgehogs have an entirely different teeth structure when compared to rodents. Hedgehogs have teeth similar to humans, which are flat. Unlike rodents which have sharp and long teeth. Rodents gnaw at things and therefore need their sharp teeth.
Apart from the teeth structure, hedgehogs have a different diet than rodents. While rodents follow a plant-based diet and are herbivores, hedgehogs are carnivores and opportunistic herbivores.
Hedgehogs rely on protein to be their main source of nutrition. Wild hedgehogs consume a lot of insects and even small rodents and snakes depending on where they are from.
It is impossible for hedgehogs to live and thrive on plant-based diets. This is because hedgehogs do not have a cecum, unlike rodents which helps them digest plant matter and to break it down.
What Are Hedgehogs Like?
Hedgehogs belong to the family Erinaceidae and are relatives of shrews, moonrats, sand moles.
Many people believe that hedgehogs are marsupials. However, marsupials are animals that give birth to underdeveloped babies. The babies stay in the pouch until they become fully developed. When hedgehogs are born, they are fully developed and hence known as placental mammals.
Hedgehogs love to munch on insects, and insects make up most of their diet – in the wild. Hedgehogs will eat beetles, worms, crickets, and more. If hedgehogs find any small rodent or snake, they will consume it as well.
People who like to keep hedgehogs as pets opt for cat food because it contains the right nutrition. Pet hedgehogs also like to eat mealworms and other forms of insects. You can also give pet hedgehogs fruits and vegetables as occasional treats.
When it comes to routine, hedgehogs are nocturnal animals which means they sleep during the day and stay awake at night. This aspect becomes somewhat of an issue for people who like to sleep early or are light sleepers.
However, you can avoid this problem by keeping your hedgehog’s enclosure away from your room and closing your door.
Hedgehogs are active animals that love to explore and, therefore, require a lot of space. Moreover, hedgehogs love to run, and since they spend most of their time in their cage, a wheel is great for them.
If you prefer to be on your own, you will make a great hedgehog owner!
Hedgehogs are solitary animals by nature and love being by themselves. However, this does not mean that your hedgehog will not bond with you. You can still spend time with your hedgehog, cuddle with it and develop a bond as people do with other pets.
Hedgehogs get nervous around other animals; hence, you will need to take it slow and introduce them gradually if you have other pets. However, even if your hedgehog becomes well-acquainted with your other pet, it is best to supervise them when they are together.
Hedgehogs make great pets and require little maintenance.
Who Are Hedgehog Ancestors?
If you like hedgehogs, you will also be interested in their lineage and where they came from. The ancestors of hedgehogs lived millions of years ago, and through research, scientists have drawn certain similarities between ancient and modern-day hedgehogs.
The oldest ancestor walked this earth 53 million years ago and is known as Litolestes. These hedgehogs liked to feed on insects.
Other ancestors are Onchocherus which existed around 55 million years ago and have similar teeth to modern hedgehogs with the exception of larger upper molars. Cedprepherus is another ancestor of hedgehogs but had slightly smaller teeth.
Another species of hedgehog roamed the earth in Italy 5 to 11 million years ago. The distinctive feature of these hedgehogs is the spines on their entire body. Moreover, these hedgehogs were bigger and had longer tails than modern hedgehogs.
People who love hedgehogs also wish to know all about them. Even though hedgehogs have become common pets, there is still a lot most people do not know about them. The most popular species of the hedgehog is the African pygmy because of its small size.
There are 17 different species of hedgehogs found in different regions of the world. Hedgehogs are found in Central Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
Hedgehogs are related to shrews, moonrats, and moles. Many people assume that hedgehogs and porcupines are related. However, this is not the case. Hedgehogs are not related to porcupines, and they are not rodents.
Porcupines and hedgehogs only share one common characteristic, which is the quills. Hedgehogs have ancestors that existed millions of years ago, and some share similar characteristics to modern-day hedgehogs. Hedgehogs make great pets as they are low-maintenance and do not require much attention.