Like a dog show only with hedgehogs
By Jessica Davis
“Yeah, he’s real active, he never sits still. Never raises a quill, never hisses or bites, very friendly,” Linda Woodring said, about her hedgehog, Gromit.
The Hedgehog Welfare Society, a rescue organization for hedgehogs that are abused or just need a home, had a fundraiser for the hedgehog rescue fund May 1. The fundraiser included a hedgehog show to help raise awareness about these small mammals that resemble porcupines.
Floyd Aprill was the judge of the hedgehog Confirmation show. He inspected each hedgehog separately. Aprill said, the show is “based on a standard of perfection. It’s a 100 point system. Personality is big part out of the points’ portion of personality, but we’re also looking at the body shape, we’re looking for hedgehogs with a tear drop shape.”
Each owner had a hard time keeping their hedgehogs on the table as they awaited to be judged. They squirmed to get free and some tried climbing on their owners. Aprill would hold them close to his face so he could inspect the ears, quills, and size of the hedge hog for each class.
Aprill said, “Any hedgehog that doesn’t get first, second, or third will get honorable mention ribbons so all of your hedgehogs will get a ribbon today.”
Deb Weaver was secretary for the fundraiser. She said, “So today we got about 22 people and 24 animals on the show table. In October we’ll have about 75 humans and probably a 100 animals on the show table. Most people here have one two, three, four hedgehogs. So yes, we always have more animals than we do humans.”
There were people of all ages attending, from the elderly to babies in strollers. They brought their hedgehogs in little carriers or pouches for them to borrow in. Most of these owners received their pets from the Hedgehog Welfare Society. Some people were fostering hedgehogs until they can find a permanent home.
The hedgehogs live in cage enclosure with wood shavings on the bottom. They like to run in wheels like hamsters. They are also a nocturnal animal, so they may be sleepy during the day. They eat pellets much like rabbits. Owners say it’s fun to own them and are easy to take care of.
People within two hours of the facility were the target audience for the fundraiser, but three people drove up from Virginia and one from Maryland, Weaver said.
Dempsey said, “We drove my friends Kate and Charity are with me. Yeah, it was a 14 hour drive, but we had a great time because we had each other for company.”
The Hedgehog Welfare Society started in 2001. Sheila Dempsey is a member and helps rescue hedgehogs. Dempsey said in December of 2009 Don Wrobel, a member of the Hedgehog Welfare Society, was contacted by a USDA that said he needed to help to rescue 600 hedgehogs in Texas.
“He had over 29,000 animals,” Dempsey said. The exotic animal dealer’s warehouse in Arlington, Texas was shut down for cruelty. The conditions were very bad. Many animals were covered with their own feces.
Dempsey said, “And these hedgehogs had been kept in the large cattle watering troughs’ the galvanized steel watering troughs’. And they were just piled on top of each other by the hundreds.”
The hedgehogs were transported via volunteer members all across the United States in to permanent homes for the most part some are in foster homes. Dempsey helped with the transportation. All of them are now in homes, Dempsey said.
Woodring’s hedgehog Gromit won best in show. She said, “He’s one of the Texas rescues; we rescued 700 hedgehogs down in Texas. Yes he’s very active. Loves to run in his wheel; he runs 3 to 4 miles a night. We have a pedometer on his wheel.”
After the show they played hedgehog games. The owners put their pets in a big ball and set them on the track. The hedgehogs would get to the end of the track and then turn around. The slowest hedgehog won one of the races because the fast hedgehog was so busy doing laps.
Kristin Miller was there with her albino hedgehog, Harriet. Miller said, “She’s a good hedgehog, she was actually featured on NPR because she is an insured hedgehog from VPI insurance. She had cancer and so we had the cancer removed and her insurance policy paid for a lot of that.”
Weaver said, “I own two girls Samantha and Millie, and they both took second places here. Their pinto animals…...But my girls are very little pinto, they each have little spots, so compared to the other wonderfully colored pintos they didn’t do as well.”
The Hedgehog Fundraiser raised about $230. Weaver said, “We’ve had already two national shows here and our third one will be this Octobers, and this is the second regional show we’ve had here.”
The national Hedgehog show will be October 1-3. They will have more games, education about the animals, and another show to find the Grand Champion Hedgehog.
Miller said, “I love them, they are both albino, and very, very sweet, so I adopted both of them.”