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Keywords:

  • Erinaceus europaeus;
  • European hedgehog;
  • mammal;
  • microsatellite;
  • multiple paternity;
  • promiscuity

Abstract

Previous observations have suggested that European hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus are promiscuous, although there have been no direct studies of the mating system to confirm this. In this study, the genetic mating system of the European hedgehog was assessed by analysing mother–offspring groups using six polymorphic microsatellite loci. Evidence of multiple paternity was found in two of five litters analysed and therefore demonstrates the occurrence of polyandry in wild populations of hedgehogs.