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Brandt's Hedgehog

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by Michael P.T. Gillett

(This article appeared in the April 1994 ENHG Al Ain Newsletter)

A Call for More Records

The setting up last year of the Arabian Leopard Trust together with one of our recent meetings has begun to focus our attention on some of the more elusive and exotic Arabian mammals. Of course, this is very proper and efforts to survey and protect the much endangered Arabian felines, including the caracal lynx (Caracal caracal schmitzi), leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) and Gordon’s cat (Felis sylvestris gordoni), deserve both our admiration and our full support. Nevertheless, if one is realistic, very few of us are likely to come face-to-face with a caracal or a nimr, no matter how many trips are made to the mountains. Much nearer to home, however, there is a mammal that we are likely to encounter right here in Al Ain and for which your records would be most welcome. I refer to the hedgehog, or rather to the hedgehogs since I have evidence from the existence of two species in the Al Ain/Al Buraimi area. They are the Ethiopian hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus dorsalis) and Brandt’s hedgehog (paraechinus hypomelas niger).

ENHG records have in the past been mainly for the Ethiopian hedgehog, which is thought to be common in the UAE. In contrast, Brandt’s hedgehog has been considered to be very rare in the country, but over the last two years there has been a small flurry of records of this animal, most of them coming from Al Ain. Although these records include some of road causalities, the majority are of live animals, which is in happy contrast to the disturbing news about the large cats. I have records of live hedgehogs from the Al Jimi and Al Markhaniya districts of Al Ain, the last one being seen in early February at night on the grassy area near to the Prisunic supermarket. Others have also been seen alive in Al Ain and one was taken alive to the Chouiefat School I have also seen traffic victims near Ain Al Faydah and outside the Prisunic supermarket.

These records suggest that Brandt’s hedgehog is a common urban animal in the Al Ain region and it would be nice to confirm this by receiving any records and photographs that you might have of both live and dead hedgehogs. I have received unconfirmed reports of hedgehogs in the grounds of Tawam Hospital and it would be nice to substantiate these and determine whether or not they refer to Brandt’s species. My only record of the Ethiopian hedgehog in this area is of a road casualty on the Al Buraimi – Al Mahdah road near to "Fossil Valley", so it is quite possible that both species may occur in the gardens and waste patches of built-up areas. If you require any help n identifying which species it is that you have seen, the I would refer you to Christian Gross’ book "Mammals of the Arabian Gulf" which is published by Motivate Publishing and is part of their Arabian Heritage series. I suspect that there is a copy in the Group’s library.


Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan