Diagnosis of hypothermia in the European hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, using infrared thermography

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Kathryn E South, Kelly Haynes, Angus C Jackson
Journal of Thermal Biology
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The European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is the most common mammal species admitted to rescue centres in the UK. The temperature of a new admission is useful in assessing health status, hypothermia can indicate shock or impaired health, assessing this can be challenging due to their ability to curl tightly. Measuring body temperature using conventional rectal thermometers is not possible. In order to improve welfare and to maximise successful rehabilitation, it is important to incorporate new technology and understanding into husbandry, assessment and diagnostic protocols and practices used within these rescue centres. This study assessed and diagnosed hypothermia, a common condition of new arrivals as a result of shock, using corneal temperature as recorded by a FLIR E60bx infrared camera, at Prickles and Paws Hedgehog Rescue Centre, Cubert, Cornwall. Corneal temperatures were recorded ranging from 14.3 to 37.4 °C. The thermal camera provided greater accuracy over observational diagnosis made by rescue centre staff, with a significant difference between diagnostic categories, demonstrating misdiagnosis by observation alone of 42% of individuals.. There was a higher mortality within those diagnosed by IRT to be ‘mildly hypothermic’ or ‘hypothermic’, with death occurring within 72 h of diagnosis. These findings provide a basis for further research into the treatment of hypothermia in E. europaeus now that temperature can be more accurately assessed by non-invasive methods.


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