Long-eared hedgehogs are considered one of the smallest middle eastern hedgehogs. They have a light-colored underside along with whitish hairs on the tips of their ears. The tops and heels of their feet are covered with hair but the soles are bare. The dorsal spines are white on the tip with darker banding below. They do not have dark and light areas on their faces. Also, they do not have a gap of spines on the back of their necks that are common to other species of hedgehogs. The Long-eared hedgehog's spines are embedded in a unique muscle sheath that forms a bag-like structure and acts as protection. They can withdraw into this pouch and erect their spines out to fend off predators if they need to.
Long-eared hedgehogs are native to Central Asian countries and some countries of the Middle East. Their range extends from the eastern Mediterranean region, through the arid and steppe areas of Asia to western Pakistan in the south; and from eastern Ukraine through Mongolia (Gobi desert), to China (Xinjiang). These hedgehogs are native to the following countries: Afghanistan, China, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. They prefer to stay in intermediate climates, avoiding the hot desert and the northern colder mountain areas. Long-eared hedgehogs inhabit a few different types of dry steppes, semi-deserts, and deserts. They prefer dry river valleys, gullies, forest shelter belts, abandoned irrigation ditches and shrubby areas, and often settle in oases and around human settlements (sometimes in cultivated habitats).
Long-eared hedgehogs are nocturnal solitary animals. During the day they are found resting under rocks, hollows or rock piles. They live in burrows that they dig under bushed with a length of 45 cm long with only one opening. They may also inhabit abandoned burrows of other small mammals. Long-eared hedgehogs have great senses of hearing and smell that they use to hunt out food and detect predators. They prefer to forage in the early evening and will travel up to 9 km during the night in search of food. Long-eared hedgehogs are active throughout much of the year and hibernate for shorter periods of time in the summer or the winter. The longest reported hibernation is 40 days.
Long-eared hedgehogs are omnivores, mainly insectivores as 70% of their diet consist of insects. They also eat beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, bird eggs, mammal meat, slugs and snails, millipedes, earwigs, bees, bird meat, plants. They may even eat snakes.
Little is known about the mating system in Long-eared hedgehogs. They breed once a year in the summer months of July through September. The gestation period lasts around 35-42 days. The female gives birth to 2-3 babies. They are born with very few spines and within five hours after birth, the spines have doubled in size. After two weeks the hoglets will be fully covered with their new spines. After just one week they start eating solid food.
There are no major threats to Long-eared hedgehogs at present.
According to IUCN, the Long-eared hedgehog is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
Long-eared hedgehogs eat a wide range of animals, especially insects and may contribute to controlling insect pest populations in certain areas. They can also be agriculturally beneficial since they eat harmful organisms like termites and scorpions.