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The Road To A Hedgehog Show

Meet some of the pet hedgehogs that will take to the show ring at the end of June for the DelMarVa Hedgie-Con show.

Marylou Zarbock
Posted: June 14, 2013, 9:05 p.m. EDT

What has four-toes on its rear feet, can roll into a ball and is prickly? An African hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). This diminutive charmer weighs only about a pound and entered the U.S. pet scene in force in the 1990s. As more people opened their hearts and homes to pet hedgehogs, the thirst for more knowledge about this pet and the desire to talk about them grew.

Hedgehog enthusiasts learned interesting facts about their chosen pet. No, they are not related to porcupines, despite any passing resemblance. Hedgehogs are in the order Insectivora, while porcupines are in the order Rodentia. The panniculus muscle allows a hedgehog to roll into a ball at will, as long as he isn’t overweight. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, and they enjoy running for long periods in exercise wheels.

Today, the International Hedgehog Association sanctions approximately one or two hedgehog shows a year. The first hedgehog shows in the United States took place in 1995, according to the IHA website. "The number one benefit of hedgehog shows is public education and promotion,” it states.

On June 28 to June 30, 2013, the next IHA-sanctioned show takes place in La Plata, Maryland, just outside Washington D.C. It’s called DelMarVa Hedgie-Con, and quite a few hedgehogs, owners and people curious about hedgehogs are expected to attend. Numerous activities are planned, but a big draw is the conformation show, during which an IHA-certified judge compares each entrant to a set of standards to determine which of those at the show are closest to the ideal.

Dale and John Nastuk are traveling from Canada to attend DelMarVa Hedgie-Con. They operate Canuck Hedgie Sanctuary. Dale said that some people call her husband John a Hedgehog Whisperer because he has a way with even the most unsocial hedgehog. "They open up for him and surprise their owners,” she said.

If they receive permits for traveling with their hedgehogs, Dale said they hope to have five entered in the show: Taddy, Bryan, Rosie, Thumbelina and Jewelee.

"We hope our kids show off their cuteness and bring home a pretty ribbon,” Dale said, "but of course all of us proud hedgie lovers know they are all beautiful and deserve best in show.”

Elaine Becker of Virginia is also planning to attend the hedgehog show. She hopes to enter four of her own hedgehogs, plus the hedgehog of a friend who can’t attend the show.

Hedgehogs come in many colors, plus the pinto pattern and albino. To see them in person, it only takes a visit to La Plata, Maryland, at the end of June. 

The below biographies were provided by the hedgehogs' owners.

He was born July 15, 2012. He is the little guy of a litter of four. He got his name because when we moved to this house three of our various contractors were named Brian. He is very sweet also and loves to cuddle and run on his wheel. We hope he wins a ribbon for how cute he is, aren't they all?

 hedgehog Bryan held in hand

Hedgehog Jewelee held in hand

She is the daughter of Jacquilline, and the only survivor of her litter. She always seems to be smiling as you can usually see a tooth. She always likes lap-time with John. She was kept with her mother for a long time, but now she is littermates with Rosie and Thumbelina. Of course we hope she brings home a ribbon.

She is Bryan's sister. She is the biggest, as you can see from her picture, and the only girl of the litter. She loves to cuddle and explore. She does not get grumpy at all when handled. Her coat color is Salt and Pepper.

Hedgehog Rosie on a blanket 

hedgehog Taddy held in hands

He lost both his eyes before he came to us. He cannot tell if it is day or night, so we find him running on his wheel any time of the day. He likes to cuddle, and his little nose goes wild as he explores the different smells around him. He can be entered in the Square Pogs competition where the judge will look for his most appealing feature, and he will receive a prize. Everyone wins in this competition.


She is one of our albinos who came to us from a breeder. She has always been a little girl who also loves her wheel and loves to cuddle. She is around 3 years old. She shares a condo with two other girls.

Hedgehog Thumbelina held in hand 

Hedgehog Daisy on blanket

She is a female Pinto who is 1 year old. I am taking her to the show on behalf of a friend who can’t attend. It will be Daisy’s first show too, but she's an old hand at navigating in a runabout ball. So she might do well in both the show and the athletic competitions. She's brave and loves to explore more than snuggle and can snarf down mealworms faster than anyone but Elizabeth, who is twice her size! 

She is a female albino who is 3 years old. She was rescued recently with urine burns on her belly from neglect and a broken, infected tooth. She was sweet, calm and curious even while in pain and has become quite an avid runabout ball explorer, so she might do well in the athletic competitions, despite being older and plump. She's never been to a show before, but I think she will be calm and social on the judging table, which is a big part of what they are looking for.

 Hedgehog Elizabeth standing

Hedgehog Hedwig in costume

He is a male, dark-eyed white who is  2.5 years old. Although a gorgeous boy, he has a bit of an attitude, especially if there are other males on the show table at the same time. If I can keep him from trying to fight with other males or court females, he might do well in the judged shows. His athletic abilities are great, but his focus is on finding girls instead of winning a ribbon. His costume is a polar bear, as his coloring is perfect for it.

He is a male Algerian with a dark grey coat, he turns 3 right before the show, so he will compete in the Senior division. He's very timid, but has an adorable face — if he's brave enough to show it to the judges. For the costume contest, being a mouse is a perfect match for his personality. He's usually too timid for most of the athletic competitions, but we'll try and see if he's any braver with age. If cuddling were a contest, he'd win that!

Hedghog QE2 in costume 

Hedgehog Spike on blanket

He is a male Pinto who is 1 year old. He was rescued last month, so we're still getting to know each other. His family's home burned down. He seems a little scared, but he is friendly and curious. He's got beautiful markings and might do well for the judges - but he's never been to a show before either, so we'll have to see how well he adjusts. He's also never been in a runabout ball before, but he’s been practicing since being rescued.

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The Road To A Hedgehog Show

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Reader Comments
Love the article and knowing a little about the hedgies! Sorry I won't make it this year, but I'll try to bring the kids next time! Best of luck to all of you - I know you'll have a blast!
Dyane, Cincinnati, OH
Posted: 6/24/2013 2:05:37 PM
I hope to see everyone there - and their hedgies!
Elaine, Roanoke, VA
Posted: 6/14/2013 9:57:09 PM
This really adds a personal touch Elaine, vewry good, and Good Luck to all your kids! Nancy and the Diamond Lil (I wanna go Mom!)
Nancy, Deming, NM
Posted: 6/14/2013 8:25:00 PM
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