LABORATORY Gazette Briefs

Study on hedgehog health, what are the challenges for this protected species?

The European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is a well-known wild species, common in rural areas and on the outskirts of cities. It is also an indicator of the presence of a relatively unfragmented and resourceful environment. However, this species is regularly perceived as in decline, which raises concerns about its conservation. The study, led by CHENE (Center for Accommodation and Study on Nature and the Environment, Allouville-Bellefosse, Normandy) and the EVAAS Center for VetAgro Sup (Veterinary and Agronomic Expertise in Wild Animals), shows a sharp increase in hedgehog admissions to care centers and high mortality . The analyzes do not identify any new disease that may pose a risk to the species’ conservation. These results also underline the need for more information at national or even European level to know the state of the population.

Concerned about an increase in hedgehog admissions to care centers and the high mortality rate among the hospitalized animals, CHENE obtained funding from the Normandy region, the European FEADER Fund and the metropolis Rouen to conduct a study on these admissions and mortality. The project, which started in 2019, is coordinated by the EVAAS pole of VetAgro Sup and involves the three other French national veterinary schools (ENVT, Oniris and ENVA), the Departmental Analysis Laboratory of the Seine Maritime (LDA76), the Laboratory of Pathology Veterinary Diagnostics and Medical Biology , toxicology and parasitology laboratories in VetAgro Sup.

Progression of hedgehog hospitalizations at the care center
Analysis of data collected at the care center between 2006 and 2021 shows that hedgehog admissions increased from 2012 and thereafter ever faster. This increase is stronger than that observed for the other species recorded in the center and concerns in particular young hedgehogs. These results show a development over time, but do not identify the cause. Several hypotheses may indeed explain the observed numbers and in particular the increase in disease incidence, the increase in reception in the center linked to an awareness of the local population or the increase in the local abundance of hedgehogs.
At the same time, the mortality rate of hedgehogs admitted to care centers has also increased since 2012 and especially the mortality rate of young and immature animals. Here, too, biological but also human factors may explain this observation, for example changes in public perception and in the centre’s management of animals.

The press release online at:

About VetAgro Sup
VetAgro Sup is a higher education and research institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty.
With 260 years of history and 10 years of unique multidisciplinarity in France, VetAgro Sup is the only French structure to train veterinarians, agricultural engineers and veterinary public health inspectors in a global approach to health issues. At the heart of living issues, the company develops its training, research and expertise activities in a “One Health” – or One Health approach, at the interface between human, animal and environmental health.

About the association CHENE
CHENE – Accommodation and Study Center for Nature and the Environment – has since 1980 worked for the respect and defense of wildlife. The Association Act 1901, its purpose is to awaken and sensitize the citizens to knowledge and protection of nature, but also to welcome and care for any wild animal in need thanks to its Rescue Center.

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