A preliminary investigation into the endoparasite load of the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in Ireland

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Haigh, Amy
O'Keeffe, Joanne
O'Riordan, Ruth M.
Butler, Fidelma
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Walter de Gruyter GmbH
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The European hedgehog is strictly protected in the Republic of Ireland but has been little studied. Carcasses, such as road kill casualties, can provide valuable information on population demographics, parasite load and general body condition. This study aimed to examine the species of endoparasites present in hedgehogs, their prevalence and intensities and whether differences occurred depending on the age and sex of the hedgehog. Carcasses were collected and examined from around Ireland, over a 3-year period. In 21 of the 23 hedgehogs examined, endoparasites were identified. The nematode species, Crenosoma triatum and Capillaria erinacei were both positively identified. C. striatium was confined to the lungs, whereas C. erinacei was the most prevalent (87%) endoparasite and occurred in the stomach and intestines. There was a significantly higher load of Crenosoma striatum observed in male hedgehogs compared to females, but no significant difference was observed in the intensity of C. erinacei between the sexes. In all tissues, a greater mean endoparasite load was observed in male hedgehogs. Sex differences in exposure or immunity to parasitism could be related to the males’ larger home range and the effects of oestrogen levels on immunity.
Capillaria erinacei , Crenosoma striatum , Erinaceus europaeus , Ireland , Prevalence
Haigh, A., O'Keeffe, J., O'Riordan, R. M. and Butler, F. (2014) "A preliminary investigation into the endoparasite load of the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in Ireland", Mammalia, 78(1), pp. 103-107. doi: 10.1515/mammalia-2013-0032
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© 2013, Walter de Gruyter GmbH.