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A Study of Rehabilitated Juvenile Hedgehogs After Release into the Wild

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Many juvenile hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are 'rehabilitated' with little or no previous experience of life in the wild. A study is described in which twelve such animals were monitored after release in Devon. They quickly learned their way about, built nests and found them again, and interacted normally with each other and with wild conspecifics. While several showed significant weight loss, this represented only the excess accumulated in captivity. Deaths caused by a predator (badger) and motor cars suggest that captives destined for release should not be allowed to become tame and unwary. However, deaths are to be expected in natural circumstances and at least one third of these animals survived beyond the nine-week study, despite having no previous experience of life in the wild. This supports the belief that, although deaths are to be expected, rehabilitating hedgehogs (even naïve juveniles) is possible and worthwhile.
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Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; BEHAVIOUR; JUVENILE HEDGEHOGS; REHABILITATION; SURVIVAL

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1994-08-01

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