A new bombshell study has claimed hedgehogs could host new strains of coronavirus.
The common garden animals – as well as domestic pets – could harbour new variants of the deadly bug.
Researchers have studied the connection between 411 strains of Covid along with 876 mammal hosts.
The study found the common hedgehog, the European rabbit, the domestic cat are all potential hosts, reports Mail Online.
Research found the highest priority' is the lesser Asiatic yellow bat, which is common in east Asia.
Experts from the University of Liverpool predicted which animals could be the source of potential outbreaks, which could help reduce the risk of emergence in human populations.
Researchers wrote in the study published in Nature Communications: "Our results demonstrate the large under-appreciation of the potential scale of novel coronavirus generation in wild and domesticated animal.
"These hosts represent new targets for surveillance of novel human pathogenic coronaviruses."
The findings come just days after the World Health Organisation announced that there were 13 variants in the epicentre Wuhan by December, meaning the virus was more wide-ranging than originally thought.
'Disease X' could kill 75 million every 5 years as humankind clashes with nature
From the new study, scientists also found there are over 40 times more mammal species that host four or more coronavirus strains.
The Asian palm civet and greater horseshoe bat are likely to host 32 and 68 different variants.
Last week a new coronavirus was discovered in the blood of five bats which had been living in a cave in Thailand.
Researchers say their findings suggest a "high probability of bat origin" of Covid-19, which is currently causing the global pandemic.
Their discovery extends the area in which related viruses have been found to a distance of 4,800km (2,983 miles).
This means related viruses could be present in animals in Japan, China and Thailand, the researchers said in a report published in Nature Communications.
Source: Read Full Article