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Old 02-15-2015, 10:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default why hibernation?

why do african pygmy hedgehogs hibernate if they're not meant to? both my two hedgehogs hibernated TWICE and it took me hours to wake them up.
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Old 02-15-2015, 11:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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When they were domesticated they lost the ability to hibernate properly but still can be triggered to attempt it.
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Old 02-15-2015, 11:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Their wild counterparts are equipped to hibernate. When the modern domestic hedgehog came about the ability to hibernate safely was lost, but the mechanism to hibernate is still there.
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Old 02-16-2015, 12:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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thanks for the info.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:54 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It's a common misconception that African pygmy hedgehogs cannot hibernate. They still can (I know a vet who lets his hogs hibernate every winter). They didn't suddenly lost the ability when people started keeping them as pets, people haven't kept them for long, these things don't change like that.
The problem lies with the preparation. In the wild, hedgehogs start to prepare for hibernation by storing fat (they have 2 types of fat; one to get them through hibernation and the other for when they wake up). In captivity they do not have the need to do this since we keep them at a steady temperature and feed them every day.
If unprepared, hibernation is dangerous. They do not have the reserves they need and it can be deadly. Never try to let your hedgehog hibernate if you don't know what you're doing; better to make sure you keep them warm enough.
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Old 02-16-2015, 08:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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hmm I read that it's an evolutionary leftover; that the hedgehogs who moved to hotter climates stopped hibernating simply cause it's too hot for them, so never triggered the response, although still being hard wired for it.
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Old 02-16-2015, 09:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you Draenog for explaining that so well. I'm not very good at putting my thoughts into words.
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Old 02-16-2015, 09:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Very interesting read
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Old 02-17-2015, 04:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick120180 View Post
hmm I read that it's an evolutionary leftover; that the hedgehogs who moved to hotter climates stopped hibernating simply cause it's too hot for them, so never triggered the response, although still being hard wired for it.
In warmer climates it is more common for hedgehogs to aestivate (= "summersleep") in hot, dry periods. There isn't much food in these periods so they simply "sleep" through it.
When it's colder they hibernate. For the hedgehogs in warmer climates these periods of cold will be shorter than the long winter in some European countries, where the European hedgehogs can hibernate for months.

The APH is thought to be a hybrid of the four-toed hedgehog and the North African, with most likely (given their appearance) not much influence from the latter. The four-toed hedgehog lives in Central Africa and the North African lives obviously in the North, and in some parts of Spain in Europe. It's colder in these areas and this species is sturdier and can withstand lower temperatures better than his smaller cousin.

(Note: my North African seems to act exactly the same without additional heat and regular room temperature ranging between 17-22C/62-71F, while my African pygmies have their heat lamps set to 24C/75F)

This is the range of the four-toed hedgehog: Central Africa, tropical savannah climate (Aw). Usually warm and dry, often has a dry season (hence the aestivation).



Here's a map of the temperatures in Central Africa (top 2, outdoor temperatures)



As you can see it can get as hot as > 30C (86F) in summer and as cold as < 10C (50F) in winter in certain places.
You might have noticed a gap in the range map on the right, in Ethiopia. When you look at the temperature map you see it's a lot colder there throughout the whole year. This is because of the Ethiopian Highlands, the mountains that cover most of the country (see this elevation map here). The four-toed hedgehog prefers the open savannah although they have been found as high as 2,000 metres (6,600 ft).
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:55 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks Draenog. I'd heard of the summer stupor but had forgotten the term.
Nice to see someone who really knows their stuff.
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