Reproductive biology

Female erinaceids have between two and five pairs of mammae (a maximum of four pairs in the gymnures). Thus the theoretical maximum litter size is 10, but in reality they average between two and five young per litter. Gestation periods range between 30 and 40 days and the young are born blind, helpless, and virtually naked. In the hedgehogs, the first

A central African hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) mother and babies. (Photo by Animals Animals ©Jim Tuten. Reproduced by permission.)
A central African hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) foraging in Africa. (Photo by Animals Animals ©Breck P. Kent. Reproduced by permission.)

spines may erupt before birth but they are very soft and un-pigmented. Adult-type spines usually begin to grow within the first week of life, and the curling response develops within a few weeks. Care of the young is always the sole responsibility of the mother—males play no part beyond courtship and mating, which is polygynous. The suckling period in hedgehogs is between five and seven weeks, and longevity is up to seven years.

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