Lutra 52(1)_Bunnell_2009

Growth rate in early and late litters of the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are thought to have two litters a year in Britain. Second or late litters would be expected to have a reduced chance of survival as they have less time available to gain sufficient weight to enable them to survive hibernation. Anecdotally, juveniles born late in the season have been reported to gain weight faster than their early counterparts. This study was conducted in order to determine whether there is any difference in the growth rate between young born to early and late litters of hedgehogs and between the sexes. The growth rate of all young hedgehogs (n=119) arriving at the author’s sanctuary between 1998 and 2006 was determined. The overall growth rate of young born to late litters was found to be significantly higher than those born to early litters (0.05>P>0.01). There was no significant difference in growth rate between the sexes.