A study of tuberculosis in hedgehogs so as to predict the location of tuberculous possums : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Veterinary Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Hedgehogs are spillover hosts for Mycobacterium bovis, which means the prevalence
of disease in the hedgehog is directly related to the prevalence of disease in a local reservoir
population such as the possum.
Possums have home ranges similar to that of hedgehogs and on large farms, locating
a tuberculous hedgehog coud substantially reduce the area where extensive control is
required to eliminate tuberculosis from the wild animal population. Male animals usually
have a larger home range than females and this is true of the hedgehog. In utilising the
knowledge of a hedgehog’s home range, female hedgehogs could provide a specific local
indicator of the presence of tuberculous possums and male hedgehogs could locate the
general region on the farm with tuberculous possums.
The hedgehog could also be considered a temporal indicator of tuberculosis in the
wild animal population especially where there has been a history of tuberculosis. The
longevity of the hedgehog is reasonably short (2-3 years in the wild) and should sufficient
control of other tuberculous animals occur then the disease will also disappear from the
Hedgehogs from this study were noted to be carriers of Salmonella enteriditis,
Sarcoptes scabiei. This is believed to be the first report of these pathogens associated with
hedgehogs in New Zealand.