Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Erinaceus europaeus
(European hedgehog)

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Datasheet

Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Erinaceus europaeus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • European hedgehog
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Mammalia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Erinaceus europaeus (hedgehogs) threaten native invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and ground-nesting bird nests through predation. In areas where hedgehogs h...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); adult in typical habitat. Note facial hair, as well as spines on body. Chemnitz, Germany. October, 2007.
TitleAdult
CaptionErinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); adult in typical habitat. Note facial hair, as well as spines on body. Chemnitz, Germany. October, 2007.
Copyright©Jörg Hempel-2007/via Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0 DE
Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); adult in typical habitat. Note facial hair, as well as spines on body. Chemnitz, Germany. October, 2007.
AdultErinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); adult in typical habitat. Note facial hair, as well as spines on body. Chemnitz, Germany. October, 2007.©Jörg Hempel-2007/via Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0 DE
Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); in habitat. Note coarse facial hair, as well as spines on body. Avesta, Sweden. July, 2010.
TitleAdult
CaptionErinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); in habitat. Note coarse facial hair, as well as spines on body. Avesta, Sweden. July, 2010.
Copyright©Calle Eklund/via Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); in habitat. Note coarse facial hair, as well as spines on body. Avesta, Sweden. July, 2010.
AdultErinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); in habitat. Note coarse facial hair, as well as spines on body. Avesta, Sweden. July, 2010.©Calle Eklund/via Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); in defensive posture.  Bremen,. Germany.
TitleDefensive posture
CaptionErinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); in defensive posture. Bremen,. Germany.
Copyright©Jürgen Howaldt/via Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0 DE
Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); in defensive posture.  Bremen,. Germany.
Defensive postureErinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); in defensive posture. Bremen,. Germany.©Jürgen Howaldt/via Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0 DE
Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); one-day old hoglet.
TitleHoglet
CaptionErinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); one-day old hoglet.
Copyright©Enrico Cian-2012/via Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0 - All rights reserved unless otherwise explicitly stated.
Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); one-day old hoglet.
HogletErinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog); one-day old hoglet.©Enrico Cian-2012/via Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0 - All rights reserved unless otherwise explicitly stated.

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Erinaceus europaeus Linnaeus 1758

Preferred Common Name

  • European hedgehog

International Common Names

  • English: brown-breasted hedgehog; hedgehog, European; hedgehog, West European; West European hedgehog; western European hedgehog
  • Spanish: erizo
  • French: herisson

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Europäischer Igel; igel
  • Italy: riccio
  • Sweden: igelkott

Summary of Invasiveness

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Erinaceus europaeus (hedgehogs) threaten native invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and ground-nesting bird nests through predation. In areas where hedgehogs have been introduced, they also compete with native insectivores. Hedgehogs are native to Western Europe and have been introduced to New Zealand and to island groups within their native range where they did not naturally occur.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Mammalia
  •                     Order: Insectivora
  •                         Family: Erinaceidae
  •                             Subfamily: Erinaceinae
  •                                 Genus: Erinaceus
  •                                     Species: Erinaceus europaeus

Description

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Small brownish nocturnal mammal (adults 600-1500g) with a distinctive coat of spines covering the back and crown of the head. The front paws are powerful and adapted for digging while the hid paws are long and narrow. Erinaceus europaeus (hedgehogs) typically roll into a ball when disturbed, this is enabled by a powerful dorsal muscle called the musculus orbicularis. Overall they are darker in appearance than E. concolor which usually has a white patch of fur over its chest. Droppings are cylindrical in shape, about 30-50mm long and often contain insect exoskeleton fragments. They are stained dark green by bile and are pointed at one end (Jones and Sanders 2005).

Distribution

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Native range: Erinaceus europaeus (hedgehogs) are native to western and parts of northern Europe.
Known introduced range: Hedgehogs have only been successfully introduced in the wild in New Zealand, where thay have invaded all but alpine habitats. They are more rare in very frosty or wet habitats.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaPresent

Africa

RéunionPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

Europe

GermanyPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
Isle of Man (UK)PresentIntroducedIntroduced in antiquity?ISSG, 2011
ItalyPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AzoresPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
SpainPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
UKPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ScotlandRestricted distributionIntroduced1974 Invasive ISSG, 2011

Oceania

New ZealandPresentIntroduced1870 Invasive ISSG, 2011

Habitat

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Prefer dry well drained sites for nests. Hibernates during extended cold weather (e.g. winter, or when mean ground temperatures reach 10-11 degrees C). Males emerge from, and enter hibernation earlier than females. New Zealand lacks natural predators such as large owls, badgers and foxes and has milder winters than Europe, which contributes to a longer breeding season and better yearly survival.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Nutrition
Invertebrates dominate the hedgehogs diet, especially beetles and caterpillars which appear to contribute most to dietary energy. It has been estimated that hedgehogs can eat around 160g of invertebrates per day. Otherwise, hedgehog diet is varied, and can depend on local conditions and prey availablity, indicating an opportunistic feeding behaviour (Jones and Sanders, 2005). This doesn't mean they are unselective in their diet as certain prey species are prefered over other equally abundant species. For example, one hedgehog stomach examined in New Zealand contained over 283 weta (Hemiandrus) legs (Jones et al. 2005). They also are known to eat bird eggs and chicks, carrion, and small reptiles and frogs (Jones and Sanders, 2005).

Reproduction
Placental. Sexual. Completely promiscuous, one female may mate with five or more males. Female hedgehogs have a succession of oestrus cycles throughout the breeding season. No postpartum oestrus (Jones and Sanders, 2005).
 
Lifecycle stages
Gestation period of 35 +/- 4 days. At 3-4 weeks old the young first explore outside the nest. At 5-6 weeks old they become fully weaned and independent. Average life expectancy in the wild is about 3-4 years (6-8 years max.) (Jones and Sanders, 2005).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Introduction pathways to new locations
Acclimatisation societies:
Biological control:Erinaceus europaeus (hedgehogs) were introduced to Western Isles in Scotland, UK to control slugs and snails in gardens

Local dispersal methods
Acclimatisation societies (local):
Intentional release:Erinaceus europaeus (hedgehogs) were released to control pests
Natural dispersal (local):

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Acclimatization societies Yes Yes
Biological control Yes
Intentional release Yes Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Native fauna Negative

Impact

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Erinaceus europaeus (hedgehogs) prey on invertebrates and small vertebrates such as lizards and bird eggs and chicks. Hedgehogs are known to eat large amounts of individual prey types meaning they can have significant impacts on small localised populations of prey items (Jones et al. 2005). Female hedgehogs were three times more likely to have eaten lizards than males in a New Zealand study (Jones et al. 2005). In the Uist group shorebird numbers declined by 39% in areas where hedgehogs are present between 1983 and 2000 (Jackson et al. 2004). Up to 60% of nests of some wader species on South Uist were destroyed by hedgehogs in the 1996 and 1997 breeding seasons (Jackson and Green, 2000). Hedgehogs may act as vectors for some human and stock diseases. However, they are unable to maintain a reservoir for bovine Tb and most diseases and parasites are host specific (Jones and Sanders, 2005). Hedgehogs are known to compete with native insectivores, such as the kiwi in New Zealand (where competition for nest sites is also an issue) and two shrew species in Germany (Jones and Sanders, 2005; Guntram G. Meier, pers.comm 2006).

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Predation

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Biological control

Prevention and Control

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Erinaceus europaeus (hedgehogs) are often caught as by-catch in many predator control programmes throughout New Zealand without apparently reducing long term population numbers. May be less susceptible to poisoning than other mammals. Cameron et al. (2002) investigated which trapping variables led to increased hedgehog catch success in New Zealand braided river ecosystems. They found that most hedgehogs were caught on pathways and on river terraces. Highest success rates were recorded whan the trap plate was hazed with vegetation rather than left bare or covered with substrate. Please follow this link to view details of the Doc trapping system setting guidelines for Doc 150 and Doc 250. Doc 150 and Doc 250 have passed ‘draft’ NAWAC (National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee) guidelines as humane kill traps for stoats, rats and hedgehogs.
 
In the Uist group in Scotland hedgehogs are live captured using a variety of methods (spot-lamping, live-trapping and searcing with dogs) and then released on the mainland (SNH, 2008). Animal rights activists in the UK have prevented lethal control methods being used to remove hedgehogs from these important areas for breeding wading birds.

Bibliography

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BirdLife International 2007a. Himantopus novaezelandiae. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/144083/0

Birdlife International 2007b. Sterna albostriata. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/144266/0

Bomford, M., 2003. Risk Assessment for the Import and Keeping of Exotic Vertebrates in Australia. Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra. http://www.feral.org.au/feral_documents/PC12803.pdf

Brockie, R. E. 1990. European hedgehog. The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals. King, C. M. (ed.) Oxford University Press: 99-113.

Cameron, B.G., van Heezik, Y., Maloney, R.F., Seddon, P.J. and Harraway, J.A. 2005. Improving predator capture rates: analysis of river margin trap site data in the Waitaki Basin, New Zeaand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 29: 117-128.

Department of Conservation (DOC)., undated. Predator traps. Doc trapping systems Doc 250 http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/conservation/threats-and-impacts/animal-pests/doc250-predator-trap.pdf

Department of Conservation (DOC)., undated. Predator traps. Doc trapping systems Doc 150 http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/405/Doc150-Predator-Trap.pdf

IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)., 2010. A Compilation of Information Sources for Conservation Managers Involved in the Prevention, Eradication, Management and Control of the Spread of Invasive Alien Species that are a Threat to Native biodiversity and Natural Ecosystems.

Jackson, D. B. 2001. Experimental removal of introduced hedgehogs improves wader nest success in the Western Isles, Scotland. Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 802-812.

Jackson, D.B. 2006. The breeding biology of introduced hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) on a Scottish Island: lessons for population control and bird conservation. Journal of Zoology, 268: 303-314.

Jackson, D.B. and Green, R.E. 2000. The importance of the introduced hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) as a predator of the eggs of waders (Charadrii) on machair in South Uist, Scotland. Biological Conservation 93: 333-348.

Jackson, D.B., Fuller, R.J. and Campbell, S.T. 2004. Long-term population changes among breeding shorebirds in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in relation to introduced hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Biological Conservation 117: 151-166.

Jones, C. & Sanders, M.S. 2005. Hedgehog. In: The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals (ed C.M. King) pp. 81-94. Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Jones, C., Moss, K. and Sanders, M. 2005. Diet of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in the upper Waitaki Basin, New Zealand: implications for conservations. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 29: 29-35.

Moss, K. and Sanders, M. 2001. Advances in New Zealand mammalogy 1990-2000: Hedgehog. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 31(1): 31-42. http://www.rsnz.org/publish/jrsnz/2001/4.php

Moutou, F. 1983. Introduction dans les îles: l'exemple de l'île de la Réunion. C.R Soc. Biogéogr. 59 (2) : 201-211

Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle [Ed]. 2003-2006. Erinaceus europaeus Linnaeus, 1758. Inventaire national du Patrimoine naturel http://inpn.mnhn.fr/isb/servlet/ISBServlet?action=Espece&typeAction=10&pageReturn=ficheEspeceDescription.jsp&numero_taxon=60015

Probst J.-M. 1997. Animaux de la Réunion. Azalées Editions. 168 pp.

Probst J.-M. 1999. Catalogue des Vertébrés de l’île de la Réunion. Amphibiens, Reptiles, Oiseaux et Mammifères se reproduisant sur l’île. Rapport DIREN. 167 pp.

Reeve, N. 1994. Hedgehogs. T. & A. D. Poyser, London, England. 313pp.

Salamolard, M. 2002. Orientations Régionales de Gestion de la Faune sauvage et d’amélioration de la qualité de ses Habitats- Etat des lieux - SEOR. DIREN. 57 p.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). 2008. The Uist Wader Project http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/wisles/waders/default.asp

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Undated. The Uist Wader Project Factsheet Number 3 All about Uist hedgehogs http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/news/nw-uwp03.pdf

Varnham, K. 2006. Non-native species in UK Overseas Territories: a review. JNCC Report 372. Peterborough: United Kingdom. http://www.jncc.gov.uk/page-3660

Contributors

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    Compiled by: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group Updates with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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