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Hedgehogs Rule The Day At The Midwest Hedgehog Rendezvous Show

If you want to see hedgehogs, get information about hedgehogs or see how your hedgehog measures up to its standard, then the Midwest Hedgehog Rendezvous show on May 5, 2012, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the place to be.

By Marylou Zarbock
Posted: April 30, 2012, 2:15 p.m. EDT

two hedgehogs with award ribbons
© Courtesy Linda Woodring
Gromit (left) and Kenny are two of the Permanent Grand Champions that will be at the upcoming Midwest Hedgehog Rendezvous show.

“You don’t need to own a hedgehog to attend a hedgehog show,” said Floyd Aprill, organizer of the Midwest Hedgehog Rendezvous show that will take place at the Rodeway Inn & Suites on May 5, 2012, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “Everyone always has a good time at the hedgehog shows.”

Aprill said the show targets three audiences: people who are interested in pet hedgehogs but don’t own one yet, people who just adopted a pet hedgehog and people who are long-time hedgehog owners. Those who don’t own a hedgehog can meet hedgehog owners and learn about hedgehogs. Those who do own a hedgehog can socialize, continue learning or pass along knowledge and see how their hedgehogs “rate” in the show.

“Hedgehogs are wonderful pets, but not for everyone,” Aprill said. In addition to special care, such as the need for warm temperatures (Aprill keeps his hedgehog room at 78 degrees Fahrenheit), expectations must be realistic. He has seen hedgehogs surrendered to a rescue because people expect them to act like dogs or cats. And complaints he’s heard include, “It doesn’t want to get up in the middle of the day,” or “It poops in its wheel.” He prefers that people come to a show to see the hedgehogs, learn about their care and know what to expect from them. The experience is well worth the trip for anyone within driving distance, he said. “They’re a great pet, as long as you expect a hedgehog to be a hedgehog, not a dog or a cat.”

hedgehog with award ribbons
© Courtesy Elaine Becker
Speedy is third in seniority among the four living Permanent Grand Champion hedgehogs.

Midwest Hedgehog Rendezvous Details
The Midwest Hedgehog Rendezvous is sanctioned by the International Hedgehog Association and has a few perks particular to this show. Every hedgehog entrant will receive a participation ribbon, so all entrants will come away with something. Winners, of course, receive more ribbons.

Also, three of the Permanent Grand Champion hedgehogs, Gromit, Kenmore and Speedy, will be at the show. This provides a wonderful opportunity to see several champions at once. A Permanent Grand Champion must have a minimum of 15 points from past shows, been awarded points by at least three different judges and have earned at least one Grand Champion ribbon.

“Both Gromit and Kenny have gotten their Permanent Grand Champion status, which is like a dog having a CH in front of his/her name,” said owner Linda Woodring. Gromit was a rescue and earned his PGC status in the Adult Male Pinto class. In October 2011, he also became the reigning Monarch of the Hedgehog Government of North America. He likely will not compete at the show, but he will be there to oversee. Kenny won his PGC status in the Adult Male Albino class.

Speedy is a 4½-year-old, male, Apricot Algerian. He won his PGC status as a Senior Male Apricot. “He’s a very sweet, outgoing and active explorer type,” said his owner, Elaine Becker. She added that there are only four living PGC, and Speedy is third in seniority behind Gromit and Kenny. “The 4th one is Brozia, a young female who lives in Colorado,” she said.

The show could see another PGC added to the ranks. Bella, an Adult Pinto, is only a few points short of earning PGC status, and she is scheduled to compete.

This event features two conformation shows, one at 10 a.m. and one at 2 p.m.; both are expected to last two hours. A different judge will work each show, so it’s a great opportunity for a hedgehog to earn points from two of the three judges it would need to become a Permanent Grand Champion. Another bonus of this show is that one of the judges, Elaine Becker, will be judging for the first time (with supervision by Master Judge Dawn Wrobel), which means that anyone who needs their hedgehog to earn points from a third judge has a great opportunity at this show if it’s seen by Becker.

Although this show doesn’t have any games, it does feature an hour-long question and answer session with four top hedgehog experts: John Wertz, DVM, of Bluemound Animal Hospital; Dawn Wrobel, a Master Judge and author of The Hedgehog: An Owner’s Guide To A Happy, Healthy Pet; Deb Weaver, an officer of the Hedgehog Welfare Society; and Floyd Aprill, co-president of the Hedgehog Breeders Alliance.

The Midwest Hedgehog Show is a good opportunity to meet other hedgehog people, to see hedgehogs and to ask questions about them and their care, Aprill said. He also said he can’t imagine any hedgehog-related question that the expert panel couldn’t answer.

Although most of the hedgehogs currently registered for the hedgehog show live in Wisconsin, a few hedgehog entrants from Illinois, Minnesota and the East Coast will make it a multi-state event. This is a 1-day, regional hedgehog show, not the big, 3-day show that occurs every other year, so entries are expected to be 25 to 35 hedgehogs.

“A hedgehog does not need a pedigree to show,” Aprill said. “Over the years, many nonpedigreed hedgehogs have done very well in hedgehog shows and several have become Permanent Grand Champions.” He also said that hedgehogs do not need to be registered with the International Hedgehog Registry, but registration is strongly encouraged, as it helps the IHR track hedgehog health issues. Registration is free and can be done online or at the show. Aprill also pointed out that only IHR-registered hedgehogs can become Permanent Grand Champions. Also, although the show is sanctioned by the International Hedgehog Association, “Individuals do not have to belong to the IHA to register their hedgehogs with the IHR,”Aprill said. “Individuals do not have to belong to the IHA to show their hedgehogs at IHA- sanctioned hedgehog shows.”

If you’re concerned about your hedgehog’s health at the show, rest easy. Health inspections are done when hedgehogs check in. “Hedgehogs with signs of external parasites or infectious disease will not be allowed to compete,” Aprill said. “Hedgehogs under 3 months old and pregnant females are also prohibited from competing.”

The hedgehogs are judged in six color classes, with numerous variations within classes. The six base color classes are Standard, Snowflake, White, Apricot, Albino and Pinto.

Within each color class, hedgehogs are judged by sex and age, with three age categories, Juvenile (3 months to 1 year), Adult (1 year to 3 years) and Senior (older than 3 years).

Admission for adults attending the show is $5 (children are free). Entry fee for hedgehogs is $6 for one conformation show or $10 to enter both conformation shows that day.

Aprill said the weather has been nice for the past month, so he’s hoping this means May 5th will be a nice day, too. If you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee this weekend, the Midwest Hedgehog Rendezvous is a great option.

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