The order Erinaceomorpha contains one family
Erinaceidae, and two sub-families Erinaceinae more
commonly known as a Hedgehog (Figure 1), and
Galericinae known as a Gymnure or Moonrat (Figure 2).
Figure 1 Figure 2
Hedgehogs can be found in Africa, Asia, and Europe, but are not
native to North or South America. These animals have been
introduced and become invasive in New Zealand and the islands
of Scotland. Moonrats can be found in Southeast Asia. Both of
these animals are mainly found in the biome temperate
Hedgehogs and Moonrats are omnivores and are found in the 3rd
trophic level. They feed on small rodents, reptiles, earthworms
and bits of plant materials such as vegetables and fruits. Some
animals that feed on hedgehogs are owls, hawks, foxes, and
Hedgehogs that were introduced to New Zealand (Figure 3) are
having to compete with native species for food. They were first
introduced there in the 1870’s by European settlers as a reminder
of their homeland but have become a pest.
People often think that Hedgehogs are related to
Porcupines(Figure 4) because of their spines, but they actually are
not. Porcupines are rodents and Hedgehogs are Insectivores. Also
Porcupines spines are barbed a characteristic that Hedgehogs lack.
Moonrats more closely resemble large rats.
Hedgehogs and Moonrats were
once part of an order called
Insectivora. Later a few species
were removed leaving the
remaining species in the order
Eulipotyphla. This order was
then split again for the last time
into the orders Erinaceomorpha
Soricomorpha is compromised
of the Soricidae family (Shrews)
and the Talpidae family (Moles).
Figure 5 is a picture of a
The hedgehog has sharp spines (Figure 6) that are about 5mm
long used to defend itself from predators. When a hedgehog
feels it’s being threatened it will curl up into a ball causing these
spines to point outward.
Moonrats have the ability to produce a scent in
order to mark it’s territory. The scent is said be be
very strong with an s mellsimilar to that of rancid
garlic or onion.
Eutheria is an ancestor of the order Erinaceomorpha.
Eutheria was divided into two subgroups, Stem eutherians,
and Placentals which contains the Clade Laurasiatheria
where Erinaceomorpha are found. These animals have been
around for up to 60 million years, but have changed little in
the last 15 million.
Primary and Secondary Succession can negatively affect
Hedgehogs and Moonrats. Succession can destroy the
ecosystems where these species live. If there is no grass in the
area there will be no rodents which could lead to a decline in the
population of hedgehogs.