Hemiechinus aurituslong-eared hedgehog

Geographic Range

Hemiechinus auritus inhabits Egypt, Asia Minor, Afghanistan, parts of India, Russian Turkestan, southeastern Russia, Chinese Turkestan, and Mongolia.


Hemiechinus auritus are found in arid deserts and steppes, and they commonly burrow under small bushes. They may also rest by day under rocks, rock heaps or hollows.

Physical Description

Length of the head and body of Hemiechinus auritus is approximately 120-270mm, and the tail is 10-50mm long. The spines are banded with dark brown and white, and the underparts of the hedgehog are whitish. The ears are much larger than those of other hedgehogs (longer than half the length of it head) and are considered a development for heat radiation in the desert. Long-eared desert hedgehogs also have acute senses of hearing and smell, which they use to locate food and detect predators

  • Average mass
    342 g
    12.05 oz
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    0.845 W


Hemiechinus auritus breeds only once a year, generally between July and September, and females have between 1-4 offspring per litter. Gestation is 35-42 days; the young's eyes open after one week, and baby hedgehogs eat solid food after three weeks. Baby hedgehogs are born naked except for sparsely scattered spines, which are very soft. The spines quadruple in length within 5 hours after birth and after 2 weeks, the babies are fully covered with them. Very little is known about their life cycle (such as weaning, age at sexual maturity or life span in the wild).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    39 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    213 days



Although Hemiechinus auritus possesses sharp spines on its back that protect it from predators, it is also able to run very fast. Long-eared hedgehogs dig their own burrows (usually under bushes), which are approximately 45 cm long and have a single opening. They have also been observed to use the burrows of other small mammals. Hedgehogs are solitary and sleep rolled up individually in their burrows, except during the breeding season when females keep offspring with them. Long-eared hedgehogs are nocturnal, and they may wander up to 9 km a night in search of food. They often enter periods of torpor in the summer and in some areas they hibernate in the winter. Presence of the spines on hedgehogs have often led people to wonder how mating is accomplished. In Hemiechinus auritus, the male copulates by standing almost vertically on his hind legs while the female lays on her ventrum with hind legs extended on the ground.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The long-eared desert hedgehog is omnivorous but feeds mainly on small invertebrates and insects. Favorite foods include grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects. They also consume eggs, fruit, vegetables and even small vertebrates such as lizards and snakes. They are remarkably resistant to scarcity of food and water; in the laboratory they have survived as long as ten weeks without food and water.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Hemiechinus auratus is considered beneficial because it eats many harmful insects, including termites and even scorpions. It does not damage agricultural crops since it lives largely in waste land on the edge of cultivation or in open desert.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative


Conservation Status

Little is known about the occurrence of Hemiechinus auritus, but they appear to be plentiful in their ranges.

Other Comments

Long-eared desert hedgehogs are curious animals and are easily tamed and kept in captivity.


Liz Ballenger (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

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.


Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

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.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


Kondo, E. 1972. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom. Vol. 5. Grolier Enterprise, Inc., NY. pp. 15-19.

Nowak, R.M. and J.L Paradiso. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World. 4th edition. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Roberts, T.J. 1977. The Mammals of Pakistan. Ernest Benn Limited, London.