Hedgehogs and Tenrecs Overview
Hedgehogs and Tenrecs do look similarly visually, but are very different animals. They are listed here together due to this common confusion and the fact that they do occupy the same ecological niche.
The most common hedgehog available to the pet trade is the African Pygmy Hedgehog (Erinaceus albiventris). Hedgehogs are not rodents, and are insectivores in the family Erinaceidae. African Pygmy Hedgehogs are a hybrid created by breeding the White-bellied or Four-toed Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) and the Algerian Hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) together and never existed as a species in the wild. They are considerably smaller than a wild European hedgehog, do not have fleas and would not be able to tolerate living outside. They must be kept alone.
The rarer Long-eared Hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus) has some different care requirements and behaviours to the African Pygmy Hedgehog and is distinguished by it's tall upright ears. They have a reputation for being less handleable. They are less likely to curl up in a ball as a method of defense, as in the wild they would outrun or even leap at their predators.
The Desert Hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus) is much rarer but considered to be of a milder temprement that the long-eared hedgehog and similar in appearance.
Tenrecs are an excellent example of convergent evolution, the Tenrec family includes animals that resemble hedgehogs, shrews, opposums, mice and even otters.
The most common Tenrec available as a pet is the lesser hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi). Unlike African Pygmy Hedgehogs Tenrecs can be housed together, although you should only have one male per cage. They benefit from a more arboreal habitat than hedgehogs, being excellent climbers.