At The Hedgehog Program, we strive to gain more and more knowledge about the different species of hedgehogs around the world. In order to do research, we have set up several projects and will continue to expand them as the company develops. The Hedgehog Program only conducts non-invasive research, meaning we don’t harm animals and try to minimize their discomfort as much as possible. Much of our data comes directly from hobbyists and breeders of various pet species or from experienced and recognized rescue organizations around the world for wild hedgehogs. For example: obtaining pedigrees and nest results from breeders, owners who send us information about the health and weight of their hedgehog. During the microscopic examination we ask for samples of hairs and spines of different types and colors of hedgehogs. Hedgehogs naturally lose these throughout their lives and the samples don’t have to be fresh. No need to disturb the animals!
In other cases we need a more ‘hands on’ approach. In the field study, we have to observe the animals and temporarily capture them to take stool samples. Many hedgehogs defecate and urinate while experiencing stress, so this usually only takes a minute or two before they can be released back into the same spot where they were trapped. In these cases stress cannot be ruled out, but we try to minimize it by not driving them around, not handling them too much and releasing them immediately after taking the samples.
At The Hedgehog Program, we believe that a lot can be done without harming animals. We started out as hobbyist owners of African pygmy hedgehogs and care deeply about the animals we work with. And we carry that through in our work as a research and education center!