Long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus)
|Size||Head-body length: 15 - 25 cm (2)|
Tail length: 1 - 4 cm (2)
|Weight||400 - 500 g (2)|
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
The long-eared hedgehog is a small and rather pale hedgehog, with short spines covering the upperparts of the body (2). Like other hedgehogs, these stiff spines, which are brown at the base and white at the tips, act as effective armour when the hedgehog rolls into a protective ball (3). The legs, feet and underparts are also whitish, the latter of which may be tinged with yellow (2). The long-eared hedgehog has a pale brown face, with a long, pointed snout and large, rounded ears, which appear somewhat whitish and translucent (2). The tail is short, but the legs are relatively long, which is particularly apparent when the hedgehog is trotting (2). The long-eared hedgehog produces a variety of vocalisations, including a snuffle, a cat-like hiss, and a growl when threatened (2).
The long-eared hedgehog has a large range, stretching from Libya and Egypt in the west, through south-west Asia, to central China (1).
The long-eared hedgehog is commonly found inhabiting sub-desert areas or semi-arid grass-covered plains, also known as steppe (4). It has recently become more closely associated with humans and is commonly found in gardens and other urban green areas (4).
A nocturnal animal, the long-eared hedgehog may wander up to nine kilometres at night in search of food (5). It has a varied diet, including insects, small vertebrates, eggs, fruit, seeds and carrion, but, incredibly, this mammal is also able to survive without food or water for up to ten weeks (4).
The long-eared hedgehog spends the daytime in a burrow, either an existing burrow dug by another animal, or one that has been dug by the hedgehog. Measuring up to 150 centimetres deep, these burrows are frequently found beneath small bushes and possess only one opening, with a single individual inhabiting each burrow. However, these burrows are expanded during the breeding season to ensure ample space for the young (4) (5).
The long-eared hedgehog generally only breeds once a year, usually between the months of July and September, during which time the female gives birth to a litter of one to four offspring after a gestation period of 35 to 42 days. The offspring are born almost completely naked apart from the odd spine which is initially very soft. These spines grow rapidly and just five hours after birth may have almost quadrupled in size. The young open their eyes one week after birth, and after just two weeks the young are fully covered with spines. Able to eat solid food three weeks after birth, the young are weaned after about one month and are sexually mature at just six weeks old (4) (5). The long-eared hedgehog has been recorded living for over six years in captivity (4).
In the colder parts of its range, the long-eared hedgehog may hibernate for up to 3.5 months over winter. It has also been known to enter a hibernation-like state during food shortages in the summer (4) (5).
There are currently no known major threats to this species (1).
While there are currently no specific conservation measures in place for the long-eared hedgehog, it is known to occur in several protected areas throughout its range (1).
Checked (24/08/10) by Dr Francis Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham.
- Carrion: the flesh of a dead animal.
- Gestation: the state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
- Hibernation: a winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals 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.
- Nocturnal: active at night.
- Vertebrates: animals with a backbone, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
- Hoath, R. (2009) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.
- Firouz, E. (2005) The Complete Fauna of Iran. L.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, London.
- Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
- Roberts, T.J. (1977) The Mammals of Pakistan. Ernest Benn Limited, London.