Brandt’s hedgehog (Paraechinus hypomelas)
|Size||Head-body length: 20 - 25 cm (2)|
Tail length: 1 - 4 cm (3)
|Weight||320 - 400 g (2)|
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Brandt’s hedgehog is a typical hedgehog in appearance, with a dense, spiny coat, elongated snout, and ability to curl into a defensive ball when threatened (4). The largest and most common hedgehog species in much of its range (5), it is almost totally black in colour, with a black face and snout, although the spines may have white bases (2) (5) (6). As with other members of the genus, there is a naked patch on the forehead (2) (3) (5), and there may be some variability in overall colouration (3).
A number of subspecies of Brandt’s hedgehog are recognised (7) (8). The species can be distinguished from the similar desert hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus) by its larger size, larger ears, darker colouration, and the lack of a white band across the face. The spines also lack white tips (2) (5) (6).
Brandt’s hedgehog has a wide distribution from the Arabian Peninsula, through southern Iran and southern parts of Central Asia, to Pakistan and India (1) (2) (3) (6). In the Arabian Peninsula, some believe it to be a relict species, largely limited to mountainous regions and with a rather disjointed distribution (1) (2) (6).
This hedgehog typically inhabits arid environments, such as rocky areas, and riverine areas of desert and semi-desert (1) (2) (3) (6). It is thought to prefer clay soils to sandy terrain (1) (6), and is commonly found in mountainous areas, although not at the highest elevations (2) (6).
Brandt’s hedgehog is active at night, although it may venture out during daylight hours after rain, to feed on emerging insects (2) (6). In addition to insects, the diet is likely to include a range of other invertebrates, small vertebrates, the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds, and plant matter such as fruit (2) (3) (4) (6). Although most hedgehogs are solitary (3) (4), Brandt’s hedgehog has been known to congregate in large numbers at good feeding sites, with groups of up to 30 reported feeding on fallen dates (2). Like other hedgehogs, this species has poor eyesight, with food detected mainly by smell (2) (4) (6). When threatened, Brandt’s hedgehog may make peculiar jerking movements to deter predators (2).
Brandt’s hedgehog is not an active burrower (3), usually spending the day curled in a ball of debris, a hole in the ground, or a rock crevice (2) (6). Resting places are changed daily, but a female with young will tend to use the same nest until the young are old enough to follow on foot (6). Brandt’s hedgehog may hibernate during the cool season (5), and has also been reported to become less active during the hottest months, particularly in deserts (6). Most births are thought to occur in spring, with a litter size of three to four young (2) (3). The young Brandt’s hedgehog opens its eyes after around 21 days (2), and, like other young hedgehogs, is probably weaned by about six weeks (4). In captivity this species has lived to at least seven years (3).
Brandt’s hedgehog is not believed to be at risk of extinction, with no major threats to the species known. It is presumed to have a large population, which occurs in an area of extensive, suitable habitat, which does not appear to be under threat (1). However, it has been suggested that increasing desertification within its range may be resulting in some degree of population fragmentation for the genus (3), although it is not known whether this is affecting Brandt’s hedgehog.
There are no known conservation measures in place for Brandt’s hedgehog, and the species as a whole is not currently thought to need any direct conservation action. It may occur in some protected areas, including Hazarganji National Park in Pakistan (1).
To find out more about Brandt’s hedgehog and other hedgehog species, see:
- Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
- Stone, R.D. (1995) Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. Available at:
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- Desertification: a process of sustained decline of the biological productivity of arid and semiarid land; the end-result is desert, or skeletal soil that is irrecoverable.
- Genus: a category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
- Hibernate: hibernation is a winter survival strategy in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer.
- Invertebrates: animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
- Relict species: a species which represents the remnant of an originally much more widespread population, but which is typically now found in restricted or very localised areas. Also refers to a species that has been ‘left behind’, for example as the last survivor of an otherwise extinct group.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- Vertebrates: animals with a backbone, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
IUCN Red List (March, 2011)