Submitted by admin on April 22, 2009 - 21:34
The hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is the only representative of the order of Insectivora in New Zealand. It was liberated by the acclimatisation societies in Dunedin and Christchurch in 1885 to control garden pests. Many subsequent official and unofficial liberations were made and the natural spread of this animal has led to its becoming common throughout both main islands, except in the high country and the large forests. R. E. Brockie has shown recently that the hedgehog is now more numerous in New Zealand than in Britain. According to Brockie, hedgehogs in New Zealand feed mainly on invertebrates, such as slugs, snails, millipedes, and caterpillars; frogs, too, are sometimes eaten. More information is needed to substantiate the claims of acclimatisation societies (who for many years paid bounties for hedgehog snouts) that hedgehogs destroy appreciable numbers of the eggs or young of ground-nesting game. The hedgehog can be considered a friend of the gardener. But these animals, with the Norway rat, are carriers of the diseases Leptospira pomona (which affects young calves in some dairy herds) and a ringworm affecting humans.