There are two species of hedgehog in Spain and their distribution is slightly different. The European hedgehog can be found throughout most of mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands. The North African hedgehog, on the other hand, is mostly found in the southern and eastern regions of Spain, particularly in Andalusia and the Valencian Community.
Top image – Atelerix algirus – The North African hedgehog thanks to Cortijo Buho. “Located in the beautiful countryside of Benamaurel (Granada province, Spain) is an 11th century cave house which is home to a very special group of birds and animals. It’s not a zoo, far from it. It’s relaxing, interactive, educational and enjoyable. Cortijo Búho is not open to the general public but you are very welcome to visit as long as you make an appointment first.” Find out more here: https://cortijobuho.com
How to tell the difference between two species of hedgehog in Spain?
Really, the easiest way to tell the difference between the two species (apart from geographic location) is the white face of Atelerix algirus – The North African hedgehog and the darker face of Erinaceus europaeus – The European hedgehog.
Have they ever been “on the menu”?
Whilst hedgehogs are not a traditional food source in Spain, there are some historical records of humans consuming hedgehogs in the country. During times of famine or food scarcity, people have sometimes resorted to eating hedgehogs as a source of protein. In some rural areas of Spain, hedgehogs have also been used in folk medicine for various ailments, such as rheumatism.
Erinaceus europaeus – The European hedgehog – Erizo Común
This is the more common of the two species of hedgehogs found in Spain. It is a medium-sized mammal that can grow up to 30 cm in length and weigh up to 1.5 kg. Its back is covered in spines, which it uses for protection against predators. It is omnivorous and feeds on a variety of insects, worms, snails, and small vertebrates, as well as fruits and berries. It is a nocturnal animal and is active mostly at night. It is found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas.
Atelerix algirus – The North African hedgehog – Erizo moruno
The other species of hedgehog found in Spain, Atelerix algirus – The North African hedgehog. It is a smaller than the European hedgehog, growing up to 20 cm in length and weighing up to 500 grams. Its spines are shorter and denser than those of the European hedgehog. It is also an omnivore, feeding on insects, small vertebrates, and plant matter. It is also nocturnal and is found in similar habitats to the European hedgehog.
Both species are adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, agricultural areas, and even urban areas such as parks and gardens. However, they are more commonly found in areas with dense vegetation or cover, where they can forage for food and find shelter.
Habitat and behavior
Hedgehogs in Spain are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, agricultural areas, and urban areas such as parks and gardens. They prefer areas with dense vegetation or cover, where they can forage for food and find shelter. Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal, spending their days sleeping in burrows or under vegetation. They are solitary animals and generally only come together during mating season.
Defense against predators
Atelerix algirus – The North African hedgehog in a defensive pose rolled up into a tight ball. Thanks to Valerie Robson-Vinardell for the image taken in Mijas costa feb 2023.
Apparently this one didn’t look in too good condition and was plagued with fleas.
Hedgehogs are omnivorous and feed on a variety of insects, worms, snails, small vertebrates, and plant matter. They are important predators of invertebrates and play an important role in controlling insect populations. Hedgehogs have a specialized diet that includes a high protein intake to support their energetic lifestyle.
Reeproduction occurs during the spring and summer months. Mating is a short-lived event, and females give birth to litters of 2-7 young after a gestation period of around 35 days. Young hedgehogs are born blind and helpless, and are nursed by their mother for several weeks. They reach sexual maturity at around one year of age.
Hedgehogs are protected by law in Spain, and it is illegal to capture or harm them. However, both species are facing threats from habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, and the use of pesticides. These threats are contributing to a decline in hedgehog populations in Spain and throughout Europe. Hedgehogs are considered a “species of special interest” in Spain, which means that they receive some level of protection from the government.
Hedgehogs in Spain face several threats and also have a few predators.
One of the main threats to hedgehogs in Spain is habitat loss and fragmentation due to human activities such as urbanization, agricultural expansion, and deforestation. This can reduce the availability of suitable habitats, food resources, and shelter for hedgehogs.
Another threat is road mortality, as hedgehogs are often killed by vehicles while crossing roads. This can be especially problematic in areas where roads fragment their habitats or when roads are located near important foraging areas.
The use of pesticides and other chemicals in agriculture and gardening can also have negative impacts on hedgehogs, as they can ingest or absorb these chemicals through their food or skin, leading to illness or death.
In terms of predators, hedgehogs have some natural enemies in Spain such as foxes, badgers and some species of birds of prey such as the eagle owl. Domestic dogs and cats sometimes also prey on hedgehogs, especially in urban areas.
Overall, these threats and predators have contributed to a decline in hedgehog populations in Spain and throughout Europe, highlighting the need for conservation efforts to protect these important species.
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