In this study we aimed to examine wild European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in rescue centres and determine ocular abnormalities in this animal population. 300 animals varying in age from 2 months to 5 years were examined, 147 being male and 153 female. All animals were evaluated with direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy and slit lamp biomicroscopy in animals where lesions were detected. Tonometry using the Tonovet rebound tonometer was undertaken in selected animals as was assessment of tear production using the Schirmer tear test. 4 animals were affected by orbital infection, 3 were anophthalmic, 2 unilaterally and one bilaterally, 3 by conjunctivitis, 3 by non-ulcerative keratitis and 4 by uveitis with corneal oedema. 57 animals affected by cataract, 54 with bilateral nuclear lens opacities. 26 of these animals were young animals considered too small to hibernate. This report documents the first prospective study of ocular disease in the European hedgehog. The predominant finding was bilateral nuclear cataract seen particularly in young poorly growing animals. Investigation into the potential causation of cataracts by poor nutrition or poor feeding ability by lens opacification requires further study.
Key words: Hedgehog eye abnormality cataract conservation rehabilitation