Chordates • Earth.com

Four-toed hedgehog

(Atelerix albiventris)

galery

Description

The four-toed hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris), is a species of hedgehog found throughout much of central and eastern Africa. Populations tend to be scattered between suitable savannah or cropland habitats, avoiding forested areas. The species common name is derived from the number of toes found on its hind feet. Due to its extensive range and stable wild population, the species is rated as least concern by the IUCN. In addition, the species is a popular small pet in various countries, and has been successfully domesticated and bred in captivity. There are no universally agreed subspecies of A. albiventris. The four-toed hedgehog is an oval bodied animal between 5 and 12 inches (13 and 30 cm) in length and weighing between 14 and 39 ounces (400 and 1,110 g). Females are typically larger than males. It has short legs, short tail typically around 2.5 centimetres (0.98 in) in length, a long nose, and small beady eyes. The ears and whiskers are both relatively large, implying that the animal has good senses. As its common name implies, and unlike related species, the four-toed hedgehog typically only has 4 toes on each hind foot, lacking the hallux. However, in some individuals, a small bony lump may be present in place of the hallux, or there may even be a well-developed toe, especially on the hind feet. It can vary greatly in colouration, but typical wild specimens have brown or grey spines with white or cream colored tips. The fur on the body is speckled grey in color, with brown around the muzzle, and white face, legs, and underparts. The upper body is covered in spines varying from 0.5 to 1.7 centimetres (0.20 to 0.67 in) in length, being longest on the upper surface of the head. The spines are variably colored, but always have a white base and tip. Males have an externally visible penis, located in the mid-abdomen, but the testicles are recessed into pouches close to the anus. Females may have anything from two to five pairs of teats. The four-toed hedgehog is found across a wide swathe of central Africa, from Gambia and Senegal in the west, to Somalia in the east, and also in eastern Africa, as far south as Mozambique. It prefers grassy environments or open woodland, and is found at elevations as high as 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), although it is more common in lowland areas. Because it prefers to shelter in dry rocky or grassy areas, it avoids dense forest and swampland.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Mammalia
Order:Erinaceomorpha
Family:Erinaceidae
Genus:Atelerix
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