Observations on the postnatal growth and development of captive Ethiopian hedgehogs, Paraechinus aethiopicus, in Qatar
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The postnatal growth and development of the Ethiopian hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus) were studied in captivity. Seven females produced seven litters that ranged between two and five young (average 3.3, SE±0.42) with an estimated gestation period of 34–46 days. Offspring sex ratio was heavily skewed toward females by 1:6.5. Newborns were altricial and weighed an average of 8.8±1.25 g (n=6) at 2–5 days old. Young were observed rolling-up for the first time at 7–22 days old, and their eyes opened at 22–30 days. They sampled solid food for the first time at 16–27 days, weaned at 30–38 days, and were feeding solely on solid food at 38–40 days old. Body weight increased on average by 3.6±0.28 g/day before weaning, 1.4±0.38 g/day during the weaning period, and 4.7±0.82 g/day after weaning. The slow growth during the weaning period marks the shift to solid food and independence from the mother. Development was generally faster in litters born later in the season. Despite the variation between litters, key postnatal developmental milestones and body length provided better estimates of growth and development than body weight.
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