Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Impact Summary
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Prevention and Control
- Principal Source
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
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 InvasivenessTop of page
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 TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Insectivora
- Family: Erinaceidae
- Subfamily: Erinaceinae
- Genus: Erinaceus
- Species: Erinaceus europaeus
DescriptionTop of page
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).
DistributionTop of page
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 TableTop of page
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.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Isle of Man||Present||Introduced|
|Portugal||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|United Kingdom||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
HabitatTop of page
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 ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Wetlands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Scrub / shrublands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
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).
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).
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 DispersalTop of page
Introduction pathways to new locations
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 CausesTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
ImpactTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
Uses ListTop of page
- Biological control
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
BibliographyTop of page
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
ReferencesTop of page
CABI Data Mining, 2001. CAB Abstracts Data Mining.,
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI
CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG), 2011. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). In: Global Invasive Species Database (GISD), Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland. http://www.issg.org/database
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