Hedgehogs are characteristic animals for having a body covered with thorns useful to protect themselves from predators. They have excellent vision and smell to get their omnivorous diet, which ranges from fruits and mushrooms, to carrion and live animals such as worms, mammals or snakes, since they are immune to their venom. They are nocturnal animals and belong to the Erinaceidae family . In this GreenEcology article we will introduce you to the different types of urchins , in addition to mentioning what sea urchins are and if they are related to this terrestrial group.
- Erizo sudafricano
It lives in southern Africa, in areas with dense herbaceous plants, gardens and bushes. Its face is dark and it has a white stripe on its neck, which separates its white spikes with brown stripes. Its legs have five toes, it measures 15 to 20 centimeters and weighs 260 to 600 grams. It is protected by CITES, the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, as it is in danger of extinction . In addition, its commercialization is highly protected.
The long-eared hedgehog, or scientifically known as the Hemiechinus auritus, lives in the deserts of North Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and central Asia, so it has adapted with large ears to cool down in high temperatures. Their limbs are also longer than other hedgehogs, measuring 14 to 28 centimeters. Their quills have grooves and measure up to 1.5 centimeters.
The Atelerix algirus has a pale white belly and face and its legs are very long . It is usually confused with the European hedgehog, but the Moorish one is distinguished by being smaller and more stylized. It measures 18 to 25 centimeters. It lives in the Iberian Levant, the Balearic and Canary Islands and North Africa. It should be noted that it is a nocturnal mammal that feeds on large amounts of insects, worms or snails. In a very exceptional way, it can hunt invertebrate animals.
It measures from 14 to 28 centimeters and is dark in color, both its speckled ventral area and its face, as well as its 2.5-centimeter long quills. This size makes it one of the smallest hedgehogs out there, and the spikes on its back may be more wrinkled. It inhabits the deserts of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. One of the curiosities that characterizes it is that it can shrink completely into a ball, so all its spikes are extended outwards and it is almost impossible to catch it. It is immune to the venom of scorpions, which, in addition to snakes, are its main food.
European or common hedgehog
It inhabits the wooded areas, gardens and hedges of Europe, Scandinavia and western Russia. During the winter it hibernates in hollows , in firewood or leaf nests. It is dark in color and measures 20 to 30 centimeters and can weigh up to 800 grams. Within this species two types are classified:
- The West European Hedgehog: It is also known as the Western European hedgehog. It has a highly developed sense of smell, as it can smell food buried 3 centimeters deep.
- The one of Eastern Europe: it includes from Asia to Germany. It never digs, but prefers to create nests with grass.
It is very similar to A. albiventris , but they differ because it has hind legs with five toes instead of four. Its belly is white and its abdomen is black, also with dark legs. As its name suggests, it is endemic to Somalia. An interesting fact about this hedgehog is that it is born blind and, babies, are born with the quills under the skin , as if they are pimples that then come out.
It is a burrowing species that inhabits Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Russia, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Mongolia. Their burrows can measure from 30 to 150 centimeters, depending on how compact the soil is. It is a relatively small hedgehog that measures 17 centimeters and weighs 200 or 500 grams.
It feeds on insects, snakes, bird eggs and scorpions, for approximately 5 hours at dawn. There have also been cases of cannibalism , where the female eats her young. It is a curious hedgehog because the male has a ritual before mating with the female that consists of “dancing” in front of her the days before said mating.
The Erinaceus concolor is light in color, with a white circle in the belly. It lives near rivers, wetlands , forests, grasslands and steppes, from Germany to Russia, Poland, Turkey and Azerbaijan. It nests on the grass . At first it was included in the same species as the European hedgehog, but after several physiological and morphological studies, it was decided that it was a different species.
It is similar to E. concolor , but lacks the white belly patch and also has the ability to burrow for habitation , nesting, and shelter. Its distributed throughout Eastern Europe to Ukraine, Russia and Western Siberia, also passing through the Adriatic islands. Although it looks a lot like a mole because of its brown color, this hedgehog has up to five different subspecies which are:
- Erinaceus roumanicus roumanicus.
- Erinaceus roumanicus bolkayi.
- Erinaceus roumanicus drozdovskii.
- Erinaceus roumanicus nesiotes.
- the pale Hedgehog.
Naked-bellied hedgehog or Madras hedgehog
The bare-bellied hedgehog’s quills are short and dark in color, while its face and belly are light in color. They inhabit thickets with acacias and rocky soils. They are endemic to southern India, but have come to be considered extinct in different places. Even so, it has been seen in some states of southeastern India.
Next, we are going to mention six more types of hedgehogs that exist:
- Erizo of Manchuria ( Erinaceus amurensis).
- Erizo de Gobi ( Mesechinus dauuricus).
- Hindu hedgehog ( Paraechinus micropus).
- Erizo de Hugh ( Mesechinus hughi).
- Brandt’s hedgehog ( Paraechinus hypomelas).
- African pygmy hedgehog ( Atelerix albiventris).
Types of sea urchins
Besides the terrestrial urchins of the family erinaceidae, there are sea urchins, but they are not related at all nor are they morphologically the same. They are called hedgehogs because they also have spikes, but these are grouped globularly around a calcareous skeleton covered with epidermis. They belong to the class of echinoids, related to starfish. They are divided into subclasses, although most are already extinct:
- Cidaroidea: it has separate quills.
- Euechinoidea: the quills are not so far apart.
It is a cidaroid with spines of different lengths, the primaries are long, light gray with green tips and the secondary ones are short, light green. They are covered by small algae . They inhabit the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
This euechinoidea has very long, sharp and fragile black spines averaging 10 centimeters, which are frequently stepped on by tourists , as these urchins are associated with coral reefs. If this is the case, the barbs can break inside the skin, causing infections if they are not removed or absorbed by the body.
It is dark brown in color and 7 centimeters in diameter, with few spines. This species of hedgehog is used for human consumption in the Mediterranean Sea, in the form of shellfish. Their communities are shrinking due to climate change , reducing the economic potential, but more importantly, the gene pool of an endemic Mediterranean species.
This is a poisonous hedgehog with two toxins released in its pedicels: contractin A causes hemagglutination and neuronal transmission failure in the muscles, while peditoxin reduces body temperature, is sedative, decreases muscle activity and leads to a coma. anesthetic. These toxins are used to defend against predators . It feeds on marine detritus, algae, and small organisms such as bryozoans.