Next Article in Journal
Metabolic Stress in the Transition Period of Dairy Cows: Focusing on the Prepartum Period
Next Article in Special Issue
DNA Footprints: Using Parasites to Detect Elusive Animals, Proof of Principle in Hedgehogs
Previous Article in Journal
Characterization of microRNAs during Embryonic Skeletal Muscle Development in the Shan Ma Duck
Previous Article in Special Issue
Patterns of Feeding by Householders Affect Activity of Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) during the Hibernation Period
Article

Hibernation Patterns of the European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, at a Cornish Rescue Centre

1
Prickles and Paws Hedgehog Rescue, Cubert, Newquay, Cornwall TR8 5HD, UK
2
Centre for Applied Zoology, Cornwall College Newquay, Newquay, Cornwall TR7 2LZ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1418; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081418
Received: 30 June 2020 / Revised: 11 August 2020 / Accepted: 12 August 2020 / Published: 14 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
Populations of the European hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, are declining in the UK. This small mammal is frequently admitted to rescue centres in the UK to be treated for a variety of illnesses or injuries. With many spending the winter in captivity, clear guidelines about how to look after hedgehogs during their hibernation would be very useful. We studied 35 hedgehogs over two winters to learn about their sleeping behaviour and how they change weight. We measured the total length of hibernation and the periods during hibernation when hedgehogs are more active (called spontaneous arousals). There were three main results. (1) The longer the hibernation, the more weight was lost. (2) Previous studies show that arousal is energetically expensive. Despite this, weight-loss was more related to the amount of time spent sleeping than to the number of times the hedgehog woke up, perhaps because they could easily feed each time they woke up. (3) Larger hedgehogs lost proportionally less weight per day, perhaps because they woke up and fed more often than did smaller hedgehogs. Behaviour by hibernating hedgehogs in captivity differs from that in the wild. Patterns revealed in this study are used to make some recommendations for guidelines that can be adapted for individual hedgehogs according to their size and behaviour during hibernation.
The European hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, is frequently admitted to rescue centres in the UK. With many overwintering in captivity, there is cause to investigate hibernation patterns in order to inform and improve husbandry and monitoring protocols. Thirty-five hedgehogs were studied over two winters. Weight change during hibernation for the first winter was used to test for effects of disturbance on different aspects of hibernation, including total duration, frequency and duration of spontaneous arousals. There was no significant difference between the two winters for any of the four aspects studied. Significant positive correlations demonstrated that weight-loss increased with the duration of the hibernation period and with percent of nights spent asleep, but not with the number of arousal events. Thus, weight-loss appears more strongly associated with the proportion of time spent asleep than with the number of arousal events. This was surprising given the assumed energetic expense of repeated arousal and was potentially due to availability of food during arousals. In contrast with previous studies, larger hedgehogs lost less weight per day than did smaller hedgehogs. They also woke up more often (i.e., had more opportunities to feed), which may explain the unexpected pattern of weight-loss. Hibernatory behaviour in captivity differs from that in the wild, likely because of non-natural conditions in hutches and the immediate availability of food. This study provides a basis for further research into the monitoring and husbandry of hedgehogs such that it can be adapted for each individual according to pre-hibernation weight and behaviour during hibernation. View Full-Text
Keywords: hedgehog; hibernation; spontaneous arousal; metabolism; wildlife rehabilitation; rehabilitation protocols; wildlife rescue hedgehog; hibernation; spontaneous arousal; metabolism; wildlife rehabilitation; rehabilitation protocols; wildlife rescue
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

South, K.E.; Haynes, K.; Jackson, A.C. Hibernation Patterns of the European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, at a Cornish Rescue Centre. Animals 2020, 10, 1418. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081418

AMA Style

South KE, Haynes K, Jackson AC. Hibernation Patterns of the European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, at a Cornish Rescue Centre. Animals. 2020; 10(8):1418. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081418

Chicago/Turabian Style

South, Kathryn E., Kelly Haynes, and Angus C. Jackson. 2020. "Hibernation Patterns of the European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, at a Cornish Rescue Centre" Animals 10, no. 8: 1418. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081418

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop