At The Hedgehog Program we strive to gain more and more knowledge about the different species of hedgehogs all around the world. To be able to do research, we have set up different projects and will continue to add on to them as the company develops. The Hedgehog Program only does non-invasive research, meaning we do not harm animals and try to minimal their discomfort as much as possible. A lot of our data we get directly from hobbyist owners and breeders of different pet species or from experienced and licensed rescues around the world where it involves wild hedgehogs. For example: getting pedigrees and litter outcomes from breeders, owners sending us information about their hedgehog’s health and weight. In the microscopic research, we ask for samples of hairs and quills of different species and colors of hedgehogs. Hedgehogs shed these naturally throughout their entire life and the samples don’t need to be fresh. No need for disturbing the animals! In other cases we do need a more ‘hands on’ approach. In the field researches we need to observe the animals and temporarily capture them to take stool samples. A lot of hedgehogs defecate and urinate while experiencing stress, so this usually takes a mere minute or two before they can be released back in the same place they’re captured. In these cases stress can’t be excluded, but we do try to minimize by not driving them around, not handling them too much and releasing them back right after taking the samples.
At The Hedgehog Program we believe a lot can be done without harming animals. We started as hobbyist owners of African Pygmy Hedgehogs ourselves and deeply care for the animals we work with. And we carry that through in our work as a research & education center!
Colors & genetics
African pygmy hedgehog
Since 2014 we’ve began collecting information about African pygmy hedgehog colors, through collecting pedigrees and litter outcomes, making predictions and slowly making a list of base colors. Over the years a decent color guide was made and the project was finalized in early 2021.
Since the study into African pygmy hedgehog genetics was finalized in early 2021, we’ve been setting up course to study the genetics and colors of Long-eared hedgehogs. This is the project we’re currently working on.
In order to study the average weights in different species of hedgehogs in different situations, we ask for information through a Google form. Owners can easily pass on information and for breeders and rescues there’s a special form to use for multiple hedgehogs.
The health of the species is constantly evolving and so, this study focuses on common health issues that might need a little more research. But to get a good look on these common health issues, we ask for more information through a Google form. This way we can monitor the health of the animals and can educate people on specific topics.
Field research can play a huge role in how we see animals, as we can map their natural habitat and find specific differences between species to help improve our care for the animals. In June 2025, we will be organizing a field research in Uganda to study African pygmy hedgehogs. Before that time, we will be doing some scale studies on European hedgehogs and Northern white-breasted hedgehogs. And the projects will be broadened over the years to cover multiple other species.
Through microscopic research, we can find differences between species of hedgehogs and tenrecs in regards to the structure of their quills and the pigmentation of hairs and quills. We use cross sections and scale casts for this purpose as well as close-ups and we’ll keep a full database of pictures.