The influence of egg size and colour on egg consumption by the Algerian hedgehog (Atelerix algirus)

Aurora M. Castilla, Hugo Robles, Stefan Van Dongen, Erik Matthysen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We tested the hypothesis that the Algerian hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) consumes smaller eggs in preference to larger ones and that the colour of the eggs (brown or white spotted) does not influence the egg consumption rate. Eggs of three galliform species (the quail, Coturnix japonica; the red legged partridge, Alectoris rufa; the chicken, Gallus domesticus) were offered to 14 individual hedgehogs under experimental conditions. Overall, the hedgehogs consumed 107 of the 225 eggs offered (48%) in 5 days. The colour of the eggs did not influence the rates of egg consumption. However, egg size had a significant influence on the rates of egg consumption. Generalized linear mixed models showed that hedgehogs preferred to consume smaller quail eggs (91%, n = 65) than intermediate partridge eggs (44%, n = 110), whereas the largest chicken eggs (n = 50) were not consumed at all. There was a strong inter-individual variation in egg consumption, particularly of partridge eggs, from 0 to 100%, whereas individual variation in consumption of quail eggs was lower, from 70 to 100%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Ethology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009



  • Behaviour
  • Egg hardness
  • Individual variation
  • Management decisions
  • Predation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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