Animals / Rodents

The Daurian hedgehog

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Классификация

Order: eulipotyphia

Family: erinaceidae

Genus: mesechinus

Species: Mesechinus Dauuricus

Ареал

The Daurian hedgehog is native to the steppes and the south of taiga area in Baikal region and neighbouring areas of the north-west of Mongolia and northern China. This species can also be found in the valleys of the rivers Chita, Shilka and Ingoda. In the east its habitat is bordered with mountain woods of Nerchinsky mountain range. The hedgehog inhabits both forests and steppes.

Now the Daurian hedgehog is a protected and endangered species.

Внешний вид

It is a relatively small species, the body is about 19-29 cm long and the tail measures to further 2-3 cm. The weight depends on the season and varies from 600 g to 1400 g. The head is cone-shaped, the snout is oblong and the ears are quite small. The Daurian hedgehog, unlike other species, doesn’t have a bare skin stripe on its head. It is not as spiky as the common hedgehog, since its spines are bent backwards. The spines are quite short, their color varies from sandy yellow to dark brown. The coat on the belly can be gray or dark brown. The upper part of the head is straw yellow. 

Характер

The Daurian hedgehog prefers dry weather. During the rain it hides in its shelter. It is nocturnal species, they are active in the evenings and at night. In winter they hibernate, and during this period they lose about 30% of its weight. The hedgehog wakes up in the middle of April. It is a solitary animal that looks for a mate only during breeding season (June-July). The hedgehog’s main predators are wolves, foxes, ferrets, badgers and birds of prey. When threatened, the hedgehog rolls in a ball and can stay in this position for a long time.

Males start hibernating in the end of August; females and hoglets in the middle of September. The hibernation period lasts for 200-245 days.

Содержание и уход

Before buying a hedgehog, you will need to prepare your house for its arrival. First of all, you will need a cage. An ordinary rabbit or guinea pig cage is fine. The minima; bottom area is 70x40 cm. Don’t forget that hedgehogs are good climbers and they can easily escape from a cage that has an opening in the roof. If you use an open-roof cage, the walls have to be slippery. The cage must  be well-ventilated. You mustn’t use a cage with wire bottom: it will injure the hedgehog’s feet. The bottom has to be solid. Take care that the space between the wires of the walls is small enough: otherwise small hedgehogs can escape or get their heads stuck. 

The food bowl should be wide and heavy, so that the hedgehog cannot turn it over. Small ceramic bowls for rodents are just fine. The bowl shouldn’t exceed 15 cm in diameter and it shouldn’t be higher than 5 cm.

For water you can use a sturdy ceramic bowl or a water bottle with nozzle (a far better solution, since it cannot be knocked over, and the hedgehog cannot throw litter into it).

Your hedgehog will also need a shelter, where it can make a nest. For the nest you can provide your pet with some hay, dried leaves and moss. You can try to put a litter box in the cage, because most hedgehogs eliminate in the same place. Aspen or birch cuttings make the best bedding for your hedgehog. You mustn’t use cedar or pine tree cuttings, they contain essential oils that are poisonous for your hedgehog. Pressed corn cobs can also make good bedding, with the exception of young male hedgehogs. Another good option is paper pellets that are sold as litter for cat trays. Many people use fleece: it is a great absorber and the hedgehog’s claws don’t get stuck in it. It is easily washed and if it is light colored, you will easily notice any changes in your pet’s health. But it is difficult to keep in place, as the hedgehog will try to bury itself in it.

You can try to change the hedgehog’s routine by feeding it at daytime. It is mainly needed for the owner, since otherwise hedgehogs tend to make a lot of noise at night.

You should clean the cage twice a week, and the shelter should be cleaned once every three months – if you clean it too often, the animal will be stressed. In summer some owners take the hedgehog to the country and place in a pen. Some owners keep hedgehogs in pens all year round. Then the hedgehog will hibernate in winter, and you should prepare in advance a deep hole in the ground so that your pet will survive the cold times. Also, you will have to monitor your hedgehog’s weight: by the first frost it should weigh at least 800 g. 

Кормление

In the wild the menu of the Daurian hedgehog primarily consists of beetles and small rodents, as well as eggs, nestlings, snakes, frogs, some berries and offal. Towards the end of autumn the hedgehogs tend to gain a lot of weight.

In order for your hedgehog to thrive, it will need a balanced and varied diet. A good quality dry cat food (meat based) can be great foundation for its menu. You can supplement it with occasional mealworms, boiled eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, lean minced chicken or lamb. 

Особенности

The hedgehogs are quite independent, solitary animals that enjoy exploring and foraging. They can be fun to watch. Sometimes they don’t develop affection for its owner. Hedgehogs can scratch quite painfully. 

Болезни

The hedgehogs are normally hardy animals that rarely get ill. Adult hedgehogs may be vulnerable to the growth of tumors, fatty liver diseases and wobbly hedgehog syndrome. Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome is one of the most serious illnesses diseases found in hedgehogs. Unfortunately, much is still unknown about this relatively rare disease, it is believed to be a genetic disorder. The symptoms start with wobbly motion, typically starting with the hind legs. The hedgehog will then lose the ability to use its hind legs. From there the hedgehog might also lose function in the front limbs as the disease progresses until they no longer have any control of their motor functions. 

 Average lifespan is 4-6 years.

 

Разведение
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