A pair of European hedgehogs first arrived at the San Diego Zoo in 1946. Donated by the London Zoo, they mesmerized Zoo guests. Today, the Zoo has four-toed African hedgehogs serving as animal ambassadors. Guests get to touch their sharp quills and learn more about these unusual critters.
Although not currently listed as threatened or endangered, many hedgehog species face challenges. Hugh’s hedgehog Mesechinus hughi (also known as the Shaanxi hedgehog) is a native of China. It 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.
Still, the good news is that most hedgehog species have stable populations and are not at great risk. Yet hedgehogs will need our help someday. More research should be done on these amazing little mammals. The more we know about them, the better we can protect them.
You can help us bring hedgehogs and other species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.