How adorable is this baby Algerian Hedgehog?! Managed to take a photo of this hoglet before returning it back to the countryside…the hedgehog is a protected species which often lives near rubble walls!
Possibly the Algerian/Vagrant Hedgehog (Qanfud, Atelerix algirus) has been present in the Maltese Islands since around 1000BC making it a native species, which prefers stretches of land with low-shrubs and vegetation, valleys and even agricultural areas dotted with rubble walls.
Whilst adult hedgehogs measure between 20-25cm and weigh up to 650g, hoglets are much smaller, weighing just around 14g upon birth. Nests are constructed using dry leaves and may be found under thick vegetation or within rubble walls. The gestation period takes about 18 weeks, and the young hoglets are born from May to October, with each litter containing between 4 and 5 young. Within 36 hours after birth, the spines begin covering their body.
Two different types are found in the Maltese Islands, the light-coloured variety with whitish spines and the dark-coloured variety with alternating light and dark bands on the spine.
When faced with danger, it rolls up into a ball, causing the spines to protrude. Whilst the spikes may be effective in deterring predators, unfortunately this defensive mechanism does not help to deflect cars, which are the hedgehog’s worst enemy in Malta. National legislation dating back from the 1993 together with European legislation, give strict protection to the Algerian hedgehog making it illegal to keep them as pets or handling them without permit.