Atlas of Maltese Mammals – Algerian Hedgehogs

Atlas of Maltese Mammals – Algerian Hedgehogs

The Algerian Hedgehog, or North African hedgehog (MT: Qanfud) Erinaceus algirus,  is part of the Erinaceidae family.

The Algerian Hedgehog comes from North African countries such as Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, and is believed to have been introduced by humans in some European countries such as Malta, Spain and France. There are 4 African hedgehog species but the North African one is the only of the four that can be found in a continent other than Africa. The Algerian hedgehog is a bigger species than its African cousins, but is smaller than the European one. It has white spines with a black tip and a white or brown underbelly.

The hedgehog’s diet is composed of snails, slugs, insects, and sometimes small vertebrates. Hedgehogs in general are very useful when it comes to control the vermin and insect populations. The Algerian Hedgehog species was indeed introduced in the 1800’s in Comino to control the cockroaches’ population. This mammal is really resistant to some toxins that are fatal to humans. For example, it can resist snake’s venom and certains wasp and bee toxins.

The life expectancy of a wild Algerian Hedgehog is around 7 years. A lot of individuals see their life shortened when crossing roads. In this respect, it is important to be careful when you see one on the road, they usually don’t take long to cross the road, especially the Algerian Hedgehog which has longer legs than the other African Hedgehog species though if encountered on colder nights it may be slow-moving as they prefer to be active in warmer temperatures.

Keep in mind that in Malta the hedgehog is a strictly protected species and it should not be handled or disturbed. In the eventuality of encountering an injured hedgehog or a hedgehog in difficulty please contact the Nature Trust Wildlife Rescue Team immediately on 99999505.

If you spot a hedgehog in the Maltese archipelago, or any other mammal, send your records of sightings and photographs on the museum facebook page (National Museum of Natural History, Mdina MALTA) or by email to john.j.borg@gov.mt.