African pygmy hedgehog

The African pygmy hedgehog is perhaps the most famous hedgehog species worldwide, due to the increasing popularity of this hedgehog species in captivity. You might not think it, but this species is really kept as a pet worldwide!

Natural habitat

African pygmy hedgehogs occur naturally in semi-deserts and steppe regions. In Central Africa, the daytime temperature averages between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius. African pygmy hedgehogs are nocturnal and sleep in burrows during the day, so they don’t suffer much from this extreme heat. In the even warmer summer months they hibernate.

In the nights, when the African pygmy hedgehog wakes up, the temperature can drop to about 17 degrees Celsius as the coldest temperature. The temperature gradually drops towards the winter period and the African pygmy hedgehog can then have a short winter rest. The cold does not last long in Central Africa, so an African pygmy hedgehog will only hibernate for a few days.

Some countries in the belt of Central Africa have a rainy season. Due to a lack of research, no information is known about the behavior of African pygmy hedgehogs during these seasons, but it is suspected that the animals migrate to a drier habitat.


African pygmy hedgehogs occur naturally in West, Central and East Africa. The area in which they live, the Sahel, runs from Senegal and Southern Mauritania in western Africa, through parts of the Sahara desert, to Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. From there, the Sahel ends, but the African pygmy hedgehog’s habitat continues across East Africa to southern Zambia.

Countries where the species occurs are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.


The highest temperature in their natural habitat, in the summer months, is around 42 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature in the coldest country in the winter months is around 5 degrees Celsius. The differences in climates are therefore very large between different countries, especially between the warmest and the coldest months. To calculate an average climate, we have looked at the highest temperature per month and the lowest temperature per month per country. On average, we then arrive at an average minimum temperature of 18 degrees Celsius and an average maximum temperature of 31 degrees Celsius. These numbers are high, because the warmest temperature is measured in the extreme heat of summer and the lowest temperature is measured in the coldest nights of winter. However, both last only a few days, making the average temperature more moderate.

On average, African pygmy hedgehogs in nature have 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. In the rainy months they get an average of 172 millimeters of rain per day on 14 days per month. In the dry months they get only 24 millimeters per day on 4 days per month.

Flora & fauna

In a gigantic habitat like that of the African pygmy hedgehog, it is difficult to describe the total flora and fauna. For that you would actually have to look per country which predators and prey animals live there and which plants grow there. But there are some notable things to mention.

African pygmy hedgehogs prefer thickets and taller grasses over a dense forest area. They are especially common along the edges of forests for that reason. Trees that are common in their habitat are Acacia trees and Baobab trees. Acacia trees are loved by, among others, Acacia rats, a species of rodent that is also on the menu of the African pygmy hedgehog. They mainly attack weaker and young animals that land on the ground and can no longer rise. However, baobab trees are not liked by white-bellied cones, because elephants like to use them as a water source. The tree can store hundreds of liters of moisture! Very handy in a dry climate, so the trees store a lot of moisture every rainy season. This is how they get their thick trunks.

The White-bellied Cone also shares its habitat with the big five: lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, elephants and buffalo.


The body of an African pygmy hedgehog is shaped like a drop when viewed from above. A fairly pointed nose and a round backhand. The head is heart-shaped from the front, with the ears set right behind the eyes. African pygmy hedgehogs have a bald stripe on their head in the middle, between the ears. This is often referred to as a "reverse mohawk." On either side of this are two muscles, called the dorsal muscles. These run from the head to the backhand and are used by the African pygmy hedgehog to curl up. African pygmy hedgehogs have a relatively large mouth with sharp teeth and four longer front teeth. These are used to kill their prey in one bite. On average, an African pygmy hedgehog is about 15 to 25 cm long and weighs between 250 and 500 grams. However, the average in captivity is 350 to 450 grams. Above 500 grams, the risk of obesity is very high. The species has four toes on the hind legs and five toes on the feet. The species is therefore sometimes referred to as the 'Four-toed Hedgehog'.


An African pygmy hedgehog in captivity needs a decent home with enrichment and accessories to stay happy. A good home with the right supplies and toys prevents boredom and stress that can eventually lead to neurotypical behavior. Good preparation is therefore half the battle and that is very important. There are different types of enclosures that you can use, there are conditions for the right ground cover, there are different types of running wheels and the choice of toys is of course very large. The pages below explain everything to you.

Learn more about housing


Of course you also have to take good care of an African pygmy hedgehog in captivity. They are not the most difficult animals, but they are quite sensitive and it is very important to read carefully about their care! For example, good care prevents fungal infections, dry skin and in many cases you can also prevent many infections with parasites with good care.

Learn more about their care


Nutrition is perhaps the most important topic to read carefully about. Good nutrition takes care of the skin, keeps organs healthy and improves the general health of a hedgehog. A good variety helps, by not only feeding kibble and mealworms, but also looking at other supplements and snacks. For example, learn how to make a fresh meat menu or how to bake animal-friendly snacks.

Learn more about nutrition


How an African pygmy hedgehog behaves tells a lot about how he feels and his health. They make a lot of noises, even if you wouldn't think so. But you can also distinguish behavior into positive behaviour, neutral behaviour, negative behavior and disturbed behaviour. Do you know the difference?

Learn more about behaviour

  • Sounds: what do they mean?
  • Different types of behavior
  • Self-Mutilation: How behavior becomes physically harmful
  • Anointing
  • Every hedgehog is different
  • Neurotic behavior
  • Fear and aggression: a step-by-step plan


In the untimely event that something goes wrong, you naturally want to be able to intervene quickly. That is why reading about health problems in African pygmy hedgehogs is also very important. Unfortunately, due to their sensitivity, they also get sick regularly and without sufficient prior knowledge it is difficult to know what is going on. That is why we have already written a number of topics for you with the most common health problems. Are you concerned about your hedgehog's health? Always consult a veterinarian.

Learn more about health


If you already have some experience with African pygmy hedgehogs, the idea of ​​wanting to breed may come to mind. For this, good reading and especially gaining a lot of experience is very important. In particular, ask your mentor how he or she views subjects, because different standards are used in different countries. For example, one breeder will cover his ladies immediately when they are 6 months old and the other leiver will wait until they are a little older. We will in any case explain the basics for you.

Learn more about reproduction

  • Basic knowledge of reproduction
  • Starting a hedgery
  • Common problems
  • A kickstart course breeding
  • Legislation


Of course it is also very nice to know what color your hedgehog is. For breeders there is more in-depth information about this in the breeding starter course, but for the pet owners we have made a handy color guide.

Learn more about colors

  • Colors of the African pygmy hedgehog
  • Patterns of the African pygmy hedgehog
  • EMS codes