A pair of European hedgehogs, donated by the London Zoo in 1946, mesmerized San Diego Zoo guests. Today, the Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park have southern African hedgehogs that serve as animal ambassadors. Guests get to touch their sharp quills and learn more about these unusual critters.
Hedgehogs and people
Although not currently listed as threatened or endangered, many hedgehog species face challenges. Hugh’s hedgehogs Mesechinus hughi (also known as the Shaanxi hedgehog), a native of China, is on the decline as people use them for food and medicine. The Daurian hedgehog Mesechinus dauuricus has lost habitat in much of China, Mongolia, and Russia as people increase mining activities, graze livestock, and set out poison to kill local rodents.
The Indian hedgehog Paraechinus micropus, found in India and Pakistan, is losing some of its range as farms expand into its desert habitat. The Madras hedgehog Paraechinus nudiventris of southern India suffers habitat loss due to the collection of wood for fuel, farmland increases, and the quick growth of cities.
Hope for hedgehogs
Still, the good news is that most hedgehog species have very stable populations and are not at great risk of becoming endangered. However, hedgehogs will probably need our help someday. More research is needed on these amazing little mammals: the more we know about them, the better we can protect them.
You can help us bring species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.