African Pygmy Hedgehog

Atelerix albiventris

Close up image of an African Pygmy Hedgehog.

Have you seen this animal?

Report an exotic pest animal sighting.

Report it now

Why is it important to report Hedgehog sightings?

The African pygmy hedgehog is not native to Australia and if given the opportunity could populate a wide range of landscapes within Victoria. Hedgehogs have the potential to carry exotic diseases like rabies and foot & mouth disease that can be transmitted to domestic pets, native wildlife and even humans.

The European hedgehog was introduced into New Zealand in the late 1800’s where they have become an environmental pest by predating on native insects, snails, lizards and the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds. A pest control program is now in place to manage the negative impacts this species has had on New Zealand’s natural environment.

Hedgehogs in Victoria

African pygmy hedgehogs are classified as a Prohibited Pest Animal under the Victorian Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994. The importation, keeping, breeding, and trading of this species, without appropriate permits, is illegal and penalties apply. Overseas they are intentionally bred for the exotic pet trade.

African pygmy hedgehogs are wild nocturnal animals so they’re active at night. They have complex needs that can only be met in their natural environment, so they don’t make suitable pets.

African pygmy hedgehogs are solitary by nature. If you were to house two together, it’s likely that they would fight. African pygmy hedgehogs are not recommended as a pet as they have grumpy temperaments making them difficult to handle.

Reporting a Hedgehog sighting

Reports of African pygmy hedgehogs are critical to Agriculture Victoria’s efforts to protect Victoria from the establishment of the species. If you think you have found a hedgehog, report it immediately. Please provide clear photos and descriptions of where and when the animal was sighted. Do not attempt to approach or handle the animal. All reports are responded to as a priority and may result in trapping, surveillance, and the removal of confirmed animals.

How to identify a Hedgehog

A white African pygmy hedgehogs with red eyes.


The African pygmy hedgehog is a small mammal measuring 21cm long from head to tail.


African pygmy hedgehogs usually have dark ears and muzzles. Their bodies have grey, brown and white speckles on the back and sides including their spines. African pygmy hedgehogs can also exhibit albinism, resulting in a completely white colouration with pink eyes.

Distinctive Features

Pointed muzzle, short stout legs with four toes on each foot, and a back covered in spines measuring 0.5-1.7cm long.

Close up image of an African Pygmy Hedgehog.


They are found in a wide range of habitats including woodlands, grasslands, and pastures with shrubs and loose vegetation to build their nests on the ground.


Hedgehogs display an unusual ‘anting’ or ‘anointing’ behaviour. When hedgehogs are introduced to a new object, scent, or food, they begin to froth at the mouth and spread this frothy saliva all over their bodies. This behaviour causes saliva to accumulate on the spines, making the hedgehog less palatable to predators.

The Exotic Pet Trade

African pygmy hedgehogs have the potential to fall victim to the illegal pet trade in Victoria where they are selectively bred and traded on the black market. The illegal keeping of African pygmy hedgehogs poses one of the greatest risks of the species establishing in Victoria. The illegal exotic pet trade can be cruel with animals suffering from starvation, dehydration, and injury during transit. Animals can be concealed in luggage where they are often bound, bagged, and gagged to prevent unwanted detection during transit.

Page last updated: 15 Nov 2023