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Spike the hedgehog


I met Spike the African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) the other day. He weighed perhaps a kilo or two, and he was the size of a grayish-white prickly softball. He was very mild-mannered. His little shovel-shaped nose was wet, and his eyes were bright and inquisitive, even though it was daytime and he prefers nighttime.

He let me brush the stiff quills on his back with a tentacle. He felt like a series of pencil points… sharp, but not stabbing or hooking like porcupine quills are. He rolled up in a ball for me, so I could see how he protects himself from predators. But soon he sprawled out again in his owner’s hand, without a care in the world. His owner stressed the fact that hedgehogs need constant socialization to feel comfortable around people. They are active at night, and they need a steady diet of insects and/or store-bought hedgehog food.

He was very cute. I related to him better than I do to reptiles, but I enjoy carnivores more than insectivores.

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