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HEDGEHOGS - Did you Know?

Hedgehogs are primarily insectivores which means they eat whatever is available, which can include slugs, worms, beetles, caterpillars and even the occasional frog! They are also lactose intolerant, so it is very important for them to avoid any dairy products. Overall they are very picky eaters!

As hedgehogs have an insectivore diet they are prone to digesting other species like parasites!! These parasites can be internal and cause a whole lot of damage to their organs, for example lungworm is extremely common for hedgehogs and could be a potential reason why they are found out in the middle of the day! Other internal parasites found can be different types of Capillaria spp. which are nematodes. Threadworms and roundworms are more commonly seen in the intestines as well as intestinal fluke! 

As well as all of these disgusting wriggly internal parasites, external parasites are just as bad! Parasites such as fleas and ticks are prone to be attracted to hedgehogs. The fleas found on hedgehogs are actually called Archaeopsylla erinaceid, they are fleas which are adapted to living only on European hedgehogs and African hedgehogs! Ticks are commonly attached to the underside, behind the ears or the flanks of hedgehogs but they can occur elsewhere as well. Ringworm can also be quite prevalent in hedgehogs, with around a quarter of the national population thought to be affected. Most hedgehogs show no visible symptoms and even those with severe infections can still show little sign of skin infection and can feed normally. Dry, crusty ears are one of the most common symptoms of a ringworm infection. 

So, if you spy a hedgehog in your garden out in the day, please wear gloves when handling them as they can carry many zoonotic diseases!

 

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