West Norfolk RSPCA staff are joining forces with experts at London Zoo on a research project into the declining hedgehog population.
The East Winch Wildlife Hospital was approached by the Institute of Zoology to take part in a study to look at the health of the country’s hedgehogs.
The hospital will be able to provide a large amount of data for the project as it treats animals from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
Samples will be sent from the hospital to London for examination. The first five samples were sent down on Wednesday.
Manager Alison Charles is delighted to be taking part in the study.
She said: “They are estimating that there has been a 25 per cent reduction in hedgehogs over the last decade.
“No-one really knows why they are declining. Hopefully this will provide a few answers and shed some light into what is going on.
“We are pleased to be taking part in the study.”
Staff at the hospital have cared for 45 hedgehogs between January and April but received a total of 622 last year.
Scientists will be looking for cryptosporidiosis and salmonella bacteria within the samples.
Mrs Charles said: “We will also be getting the results back.
“It may not help us treat the individuals we have at the moment but it will be interesting to know what they are coming in with and give us a greater understanding.”