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Hedgehog rehabilitation in perspective
  1. P. A. Morris, BSc, PhD1
  1. 1 School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 OEX


Thousands of hedgehogs are taken into care each year, mostly injured animals or late-born young unlikely to survive hibernation. Many are returned to the wild, but until recently there was little information about their welfare, behaviour or survival after release. A review of three studies undertaken in different regions of Britain, showed that the majority of 33 released adults and juveniles adapted quickly to life in the wild despite the juveniles having been raised in captivity. They found food readily, made nests and rapidly learned their way about. They all lost weight initially but, after two to three weeks, stabilised at a similar weight to wild animals. The hedgehogs which were heaviest at release lost the greatest percentage of their bodyweight, suggesting they had become overweight in captivity. The hedgehogs which were known not to have survived at least six weeks after release included three road casualties and three eaten by badgers. Although wild hedgehogs may die in the same ways, it is possible that the released hedgehogs' susceptibility to such dangers may be increased by their becoming tame during captivity. However, the high survival rate suggests that the release of rehabilitated hedgehogs back into the wild is worthwhile.

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