We’ve all seen hedgehogs at least once during our lifetime, hiding at the bottom of our backyards, looking for insects and other creatures that they can devour. However, we might not be aware of the Indian variant of this species.
Looking very similar to a raccoon, with a pointed face, long ears and a dark complexion, they simply love hot and arid environments.
The male of this species weighs in at around 400-pounds, while the female of the species weighs it at around 300. They tend to gravitate towards areas where they might have some vegetation that they can use for cover.
Like a lot of their contemporaries, this hedgehog utilizes spines on its back for protection, although it does not have rigid spikes like the European hedgehog.
These hedgehogs are pretty quick on their feet, giving a lot of their predators a run for their money when they are foraging through the great outdoors.
But where can you find this amazing creature? How long can they survive in the toughest conditions? Are they active during the day or are they nocturnal? What is the primary habitat for the Indian hedgehog? What are its main predators?
Well, if it’s answers to all of these questions that you want and a lot more, then we would suggest that you keep reading. This is an in-depth guide to the Indian hedgehog, its behaviors and its predators.
We’ll look at what way this hedgehog will benefit humanity, as well as what food habits the creature has.
Where Can You Find The Indian Hedgehog?
You can find these creatures in what is traditionally referred to as the Oriental region, mainly around India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, you can find Indian hedgehogs in various pockets in the south of the country.
In India, they are found in the west of the country, located near the Punjab regions.
You can also find the Indian hedgehog in the Deccan region of India, although scientists are unsure as to when these creatures were introduced into the area. You can find this creature in and around other parts of India too, although these are far less commonly sighted.
What Is The Primary Habitat Of The Indian Hedgehog?
You can find these hedgehogs in the farmland, living mainly in arid areas of the desert in India and Pakistan.
They often head for thorned and wooded areas, as this offers them adequate protection from various predators. You can often find them in irrigated farmland where there is plenty of moisture and food.
These areas are places where they can find plenty of cover. You will rarely find an Indian hedgehog in the open air, as this will be where they are susceptible to predators.
They have little recourse to use their spines as protection, so this is where they use dense foliage as a shield for themselves and their young.
What Does The Indian Hedgehog Look Like?
The Indian hedgehog is often compared to the long-eared hedgehog, as they both have a similar appearance and lifestyle. It frequently gets compared to a raccoon, with a masked-type face and white top.
The most striking feature of this animal is the long and pointy ears, which marks them out from other types of hedgehog.
The male adult weighs in at around 435 grams, with the female being about 100 pounds smaller than that. These species move incredibly fast, although they are slower than the long-eared hedgehog.
The color of this hedgehog is primarily brown, with a short tail that measures around 2-4 centimeters long.
This creature is round and quite bulky, with a long head and a short snout. It has eyes that are small and dark with long and pointed ears.
On the underside of its body, it is a kind of distinctive grey color, with 5 clawed digits on each hand. This creature’s most distinctive features are the dark muzzle, the well-developed eyes and the dark paws.
These hedgehogs might have dark patches that appear in various places around their fur. It has a spineless dome on its head that can often appear white or grey in color. As with other species of this type, you can get albino hedgehogs that are generally white with pink or reddish eyes.
The Indian hedgehog has been described as having thin fur and skin that is soft to the touch. The spines of this hedgehog only cover the back, there are no spines on the face, head, tail or legs.
They usually lie flat to the hedgehog’s back when it is calm and they become raised when it is facing attacks from predators.
The colors of the spines of this hedgehog can be either light brown or even yellow in some instances. Often they have brown bands across some of them, with patches of white too.
The young of this species are not born with dorsal fins, as this will harm the female giving birth. However, the spines will develop within 6 hours of birth. These will be very short and appear pink/white in color.
How Does The Indian Hedgehog Mate?
Although studies of this creature are very tenuous, this type of Indian hedgehog does appear to have certain courtship rituals. A few of them give just a series of grunts that then translate to copulation, after which point the male abruptly leaves – charming!
The gestation and breeding period of these species can vary wildly and there is no conclusive data on this.
However, what is known is that these creatures will breed roughly once a year, usually during the spring and the summer months, from April through until September.
There have been certain hedgehogs that breed during the monsoon season, which tends to kick off during July through until September. This usually happens to the breeds that exist in Pakistan.
The male Indian hedgehogs are usually available to mate all the year-round and are definitely ready just before the mating season.
Usually, the female Indian hedgehog will only produce around 1-2 hedgehogs per litter, although some have been known to produce around 5 hoglets per litter.
They are usually blind up to 21 days after being born, they can roll into a defensive position after 1 month old.
The mother will nurse the pups from a young age, weaning them from her own milk using the four pairs of nipples that she has on her belly. If the babies haven’t been eaten by the mother, then they stand a pretty decent chance of survival.
When it comes to cannibalization, there have been various reports. Some scientists have seen the male eating one or two pups if food is scarce. A female hedgehog was reported as eating an entire litter of 5 pups, only stopping when she was forcibly removed from the birthing area.
If you own some Indian hedgehogs in captivity and you feel that the young might be eaten by their parents, then all you have to do is remove the female hedgehog soon after birth.
This should not be a permanent solution. Slowly introduce the mother as soon as the pups are old enough and healthy to walk around on their own.
What Is The Behaviour Of The Indian Hedgehog?
These animals are quite solitary creatures, leaving the burrow during the night to forage for food. Males and females meet only to reproduce, with the male having nothing to do with the parental care of the children.
This is because the male might have multiple copulations and impregnations that are not successful.
In the wild, only one hedgehog will share a burrow, although in captivity it has been shown that 3 Indian hedgehogs will share a burrow at any one time. These are generally nocturnal hunters, wandering the streets or the desert environment to find food by themselves.
These hedgehogs, unlike the others that they are related to, do not hibernate. However, they do disappear if the weather gets colder or they are unable to find food for an extended period of time.
They will use their hind legs to dig out their own burrow, after which they will inhabit it for months at a time, using foliage to cover it from predators.
Hedgehogs will not often store their food, although they have been seen to be dragging it back towards the nest when necessary. However, they will not store food in their burrow over the winter months.
Indian hedgehogs, as well as a few other species such as the Desert Hedgehog, will demonstrate the behavior of ‘self anointing’. This is where they spread their own saliva onto a favored object, which they will then rub their spines on.
The reason for this remains a mystery to scientists, although some people have suggested that it might be for sexual stimulation.
Often a hedgehog will roll into a ball to protect itself from certain predators such as birds of prey.
This practice involves the hedgehog using certain developed muscles to pull its head towards its posterior region to cover all soft tissue areas. The principle behind this is that the predator will injure itself on the spines and be discouraged from eating it.
This reaction is involuntary, meaning that sometimes the muscles will instinctively trigger when the hedgehog senses danger. However, some of the muscles can be controlled by the hedgehog and they can roll into a ball if the temperature drops.
What Is The Communication Of The Indian Hedgehog?
A lot of these kinds of hedgehogs are very silent, keeping to themselves and not really communicating with any other hedgehogs in the area. However, during courtship, the males will make their presence known to the females with small grunting sounds that the females will reciprocate.
If you were to poke the nest with a stick – although we would definitely suggest that you don’t disturb these hedgehogs, as you would get a hissing response from the creature living inside. If you disturb a rolled-up hedgehog, you will probably get the same response.
In one study done with captive hedgehogs, the mother was seen to communicate with her young with a series of squeaking sounds. However, if you try and observe this in the wild, you’ll probably be out of luck.
What Does An Indian Hedgehog Eat?
This hedgehog likes to dine on a variety of different animals, the most common being beetles, slugs and worms. However, when food is scarce they have been known to eat scorpions and venomous snakes.
They have a very high tolerance for poison, which allows them to bite off the tail before eating the rest of the creature.
The Indian hedgehog will generally not touch any vegetation, although if food really is hard to find, then they might be inclined to have some. They have also been known to eat the eggs of certain ground-nesting birds.
When they eat insects, they tend to ingest them whole, including the bones and the spines.
They also have a quite bad habit of eating their own young, although this will be very rare and only if the female or male has not eaten for several days. To prevent the mother from eating her young, simply remove her from her babies after she has given birth.
When food is scarce, this creature can slow its metabolism right down. This is not really like hibernation, but it might sleep for long hours during the day. In one resting session, an Indian hedgehog can sleep up to 18 hours.
Indian hedgehogs tend to digest their food very slowly, so they won’t need too much regular feeding, although they do like to graze on certain animals such as worms or slugs. They can often be found near water sources where insects are in abundance.
What Predators Does The Indian Hedgehog Have?
This hedgehog has plenty of predators, including foxes and Indian geese. There are also more aggressive predators like rock-horned geese that have a great time trying to hunt these fast-moving hedgehogs.
The predator will only catch the hedgehog if they can scoop them up before they have rolled up into a ball.
These hedgehogs have great reflexes, so they’ll have to be super quick when it comes to eating these small creatures. Eurasian eagle-owls have also been known to try and eat the Indian hedgehog.
Humans are also a primary cause of death in Indian hedgehogs, especially if they are near a roadway. Make sure that you take care when driving home at night – look out for something resembling a rock moving into the middle of the road.
What Is The Indian Hedgehog’s Role In The Ecosystem?
This type of species carries a few parasites on its body, but they are largely tolerable for humans.
These Indian hedgehogs largely keep to themselves in dry and arid areas, so they tend not to bother humans or come near the city. If there is a regular source of food, either in the garbage or human waste, then they might be inclined to try their luck.
Because it eats plenty of insects, you can be sure that this hedgehog will keep the insect population in check.
We would definitely recommend that you use this as a natural source of insect containment. A lot of these hedgehogs can contain ticks and mites, but these will only have superficial impacts upon humans and human pets such as dogs.
Occasionally these hedgehogs will take chicken eggs, which might be an issue for farmers. Often the Indian hedgehog will be quite frightened by loud noises and human activity, so it will probably keep well away from human homes.
You can often find these hedgehogs nearby farms where the food is in rich supply. Make sure that you keep all the food stored away safely if you have a barn, as this will be the first place that an Indian hedgehog will go.
If you are looking to observe an Indian hedgehog, then we would recommend laying down some dead crickets and setting up a night vision camera to watch it hunt.
Our Final Say
We hope that this tell-all guide to the Indian hedgehog has given you a greater appreciation for this amazing creature. Not only do you now know how it mates, but you can also see how it eats and what time of the day – or should we say night – that you are most likely to find it.
If you are going out looking for Indian hedgehogs or you think there are some living near you, then we would not recommend that you disturb their environment.
As we mentioned before, hedgehogs have spines on their backs to help protect them from predators. If you let your dog or child near them without supervision, the chances are they will get stung.