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pigs faceContactless measurement of body temperature in rescued wild hedgehogs for health and welfare monitoring


Year: 2023

Colette Chien
University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Supervisor(s): Dr Nuno H. Franco,University of Porto, Portugal & Professor Rick D'eath, SRUC, United Kingdom


Stress-induced hyperthermia (SIH) is a physiological reaction to an acute stressor that results in the elevation of core body temperature. In this pilot study, we recorded body temperature in response to three mild acute stressors in the Western European hedgehog for the detection of SIH. Passive integrated transponders (PIT) tags are subcutaneously implanted microchips that are often utilised for identification purposes. We implanted thermosensitive PIT-tags for contactless body temperature assessment of hedgehogs as an alternative to traditional rectal thermometers. To determine whether European hedgehogs manifest stress-induced hyperthermia, we recorded body temperature in ten animals before (T0) and five minutes (T5) after handling, open field, new cage, and control treatments.

We found that mean body temperature was significantly higher at T5 than T0 across subjects and treatments, suggesting the presence of SIH in European hedgehogs. We further discovered a significant temperature difference between sexes, with female body temperature observed to be higher in all treatments and timepoints. The present data reveals PIT-tags as a beneficial method for assessment of body temperature in hedgehogs, appropriate for both clinical and scientific applications. Furthermore, we found evidence that European hedgehogs display hyperthermia in response to acute stressors.