- Erinaceus auritus Gmelin, 1770
Value of species
Hemiechinus auritus has a global range that extends from the eastern Mediterranean region, through southwest Asia to western Pakistan in the south; and from eastern Ukraine through Mongolia (Gobi desert), to China (Xinjiang).
It is a widespread and common species across most of the distribution area, although some marginal populations are fragmented and declining (e.g., in Ukraine).
H. auritus inhabits different types of dry steppes, semi-deserts and deserts. It prefers dry river valleys, gullies, forest shelter belts, abandoned irrigation ditches and shrubby areas, and often settles in oases and around human settlements (sometimes in cultivated habitats). It avoids tugais and high herbage.
This mainly solitary, nocturnal species lives in burrows that it usually digs itself, although sometimes it occupies abandoned burrows of turtles, gerbils, foxes and otters. It hibernates in the winter and may also aestivate in hot, dry weather.
Consequently this species is assessed as Least Concern. However, taxonomic research is required and may result into this taxon being split into several different species; in that case reassessment will be necessary.