Indian hedgehogs favor hot and arid environments, typically the deserts in their range. In Pakistan these hedgehogs inhabit tropical thorn forests as well as irrigated farmlands. They require sufficient vegetative cover for their prey and for use as nest lining, and are therefore unable to live in the harsher desert environments. (Nowalk, 1999; Prater, 1965; Reeve, 1994; Stocker, 1987)
- Other Habitat Features
The dental formula for (Reeve, 1994)is 3/3, 1/1, 3/2, 3/3. The upper incisors are separated by a gap and are long and slightly projecting, while the cheek teeth have a four-sided occlusal surface and raised cusps.
Indian hedgehogs are small and rounded like others of the family Erinaceidae, with a pointed nose and short legs. has dark legs with relatively small feet and claws. The ears are large and slightly pointed, and the eyes are also well-developed. The species is noted for the broad spineless area on the scalp and for their dark muzzle; the dark patch may take various shapes but is distinct from the otherwise pale fur. The forehead fur is white, as is the fur of the underbelly and sides. This coloration is standard for the species, but melanism and albinism do occur. The fur of has been reported as both thin or soft and dense, and the hairy tail is short. (Finn, 1929; Nowalk, 1999; Prater, 1965; Reeve, 1994)
Spines cover the dorsal skin and part of the sides, but not the face, tail, or legs. The spines are grooved and lie smooth when a hedgehog is calm, or become extended when a hedgehog is agitated. Spine colors vary from white to yellow with black and dark brown bands, although one color will dominate and most spines commonly have only one dark band. (Finn, 1929; Nowalk, 1999; Reeve, 1994)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- male larger
- Range mass
- 312 to 435 g
- 11.00 to 15.33 oz
- Range length
- 140 to 272 mm
- 5.51 to 10.71 in
Studies of desert hedgehogs, including Hemiechinus auritus), which are also native to the region. Most published research on hedgehog mating behaviors is of European hedgehog mating (Erinaceus europaeus) and there is little data available for . However, most hedgehog species seem to have similar courtship rituals. These involve a series of grunts and seemingly aggressive behaviors as the male herds the female. The male mounts from behind and leaves after copulation. (Reeve, 1994), often do not specify the species, particularly in work involving both and long-eared hedgehogs (
- Mating System
- polygynandrous (promiscuous)
As with courtship, general data on reproduction are often vague or lacking. The precise gestation and lactation periods are unknown for this species and the timing of breeding and the birth of young range widely. (Nowalk, 1999; Reeve, 1994; Stocker, 1987)will breed once per year, generally in the spring or summer between April and September. Populations in Pakistan breed during the monsoon season and the females give birth between July and September, when food is readily available. Males are sexually ready well before the mating season.
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Indian hedgehogs breed once per year.
- Breeding season
- The breeding season is spring to summer, or during the monsoon season.
- Range number of offspring
- 1 to 5
- Average number of offspring
In the wild, female Indian hedgehosg will have a litter of 1-2 babies at a time, with as many as five in one captive litter. The young are altricial, with closed eyes until 21 days after birth, and can roll into a defensive posture in as little as one week. The mother nurses from her four pairs of nipples while lying on her side. If not cannibalized, the young have a good survival rate. (Gupta and Sharma, 1961; Nowalk, 1999; Prakash, 1960; Reeve, 1994; Stocker, 1987)
- Parental Investment
There are no data available on the lifespan of.
Hedgehogs are generally solitary animals. Males and females meet only to breed, and the male invests no parental care, possibly owing to the frequency of unsuccessful copulations and pregnancies. With the exception of nursing mothers, only one hedgehog lives in a burrow at a time, although three shared one burrow in captivity. (Nowalk, 1999; Prater, 1965; Reeve, 1994)is nocturnal, and will wander while hunting. They do not hibernate, but may seem to disappear in winter and can become torpid if food or water are scarce. Little is known about an individual’s range, but a good walking speed is 305 mm/s, and a scurrying hedgehog has been clocked at a speed of 635 mm/s.
Indian hedgehogs also exhibit the self-anointing and defensive posture behaviors seen in other hedgehog species. Self-anointing refers to the hedgehog spreading its own saliva onto its back spines and fur after tasting or smelling something unfamiliar. This action is found in both sexes of all ages, and may occur at any time of year. The reason behind the behavior remains unknown; hypotheses include scent marking, sexual stimuli, and grooming. (Nowalk, 1999; Reeve, 1994)
Rolling into a ball allows the hedgehog to protect itself from curious predators with its coat of sharp spines. Young hedgehogs can do this within a few weeks, and many muscles are devoted to this behavior. A rolled up hedgehog draws its limbs inward and tucks its head between the forelimbs, creating a ball of spines with no fur or soft tissue on the surface. The muscles used for this are mainly striated, meaning that the action is voluntary; however, a few of the muscles are unstriated, so it is possible that rolling is partially instinctive and involuntary. (Gupta, 1961; Prakash, 1960)
Communication and Perception
Hedgehogs are mostly solitary and silent, but they do make a few sounds when in contact with other animals. Courting hedgehog females make loud snorting sounds to males, and poking a nest with a stick will obtain a hissing response from the inhabitant. A disturbed (Prater, 1965; Reeve, 1994)will roll up and grunt or hiss, and in one study a captive mother made a squeaking sound even when alone with her young.
Indian hedgehogs feed primarily on insects, with beetles as the preferred prey, but will also eat worms and slugs, small vertebrates, scorpions, and the eggs of ground-nesting birds. Plants do not form any part of the diet, even for the water they might contain in a desert environment. Vertebrates are eaten in their entirety, including the bones, and these hedgehogs can break open small eggs. Along with the previously cited examples of eating the newly born babies, (Gupta and Sharma, 1961; Nowalk, 1999; Prater, 1965; Reeve, 1994)may also cannibalize sick or weak individuals, although this behavior is more common if the prey animal is already dead.
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial non-insect arthropods
- terrestrial worms
The known predators of Indian hedgehogs include foxes (Vulpes spp.), Indian gray mongooses (Herpestes edwardsi), and possibly also rock-horned owls (Bubo bubo turcomanus). These predators must be either quick or clever to catch hedgehogs before they manage to roll up. (Reeve, 1994)
The role of Indian hedgehogs in the ecosystem have not been studied, but it might be presumed that these hedgehogs have a role in controlling the populations of their insect prey and in providing food for their predators. (Reeve, 1994)
- mites, ticks
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Since Erinaceus europaeus. As an insectivore it does control the populations of some insects, but does not affect agriculture to a large extent because of the desert environment. This species has not entered the pet trade to a large extent, but data are lacking, as is specific information on the use of the animal as food for humans. (Reeve, 1994)lives in relatively uninhabited areas, it has had a lesser effect on humans compared to
- Positive Impacts
- controls pest population
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
The potential negative effects of (Reeve, 1994)have not been well studied. Like European and African hedgehogs, can carry pests such as ticks and mites, but these do not usually transfer to humans. Although hedgehogs have a reputation for stealing eggs, the eggs of chickens are too large for .
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) have no listings for Hemiechinus.
Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Megan Seitz (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor, instructor), Michigan State University.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
- 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.
an animal that mainly eats meat
flesh of dead animals.
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.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
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.
active during the night
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
Finn, F. 1929. Sterndale's Mammalia of India. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co..
Gupta, B. 1961. Investigations of the rolling mechanism in the Indian hedgehog. Journal of Mammalogy, 42: 365-371.
Gupta, B., H. Sharma. 1961. Birth and early development of Indian hedgehogs. Journal of Mammalogy, 42: 398-399.
Nowalk, R. 1999. Walker's mammals of the world. London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Prakash, I. 1960. Breeding of mammals in Rajasthan Desert, India. Journal of Mammalogy, 41: 386-389.
Prater, S. 1965. The book of Indian animals. Madras, India: Diocesan Press.
Reeve, N. 1994. Hedgehogs. London: T& A D Poyser Ltd..
Stocker, L. 1987. The complete hedgehog. London: Chatto & Windus.