Hedgehog Shows in the United States
Hedgehogs have slowly gained in popularity as pets since they first came to the United States in the 1980’s. Several hedgehog clubs have formed, reorganized, divided and reorganized over the past two decades. Most clubs or groups are fairly small and have national memberships of members that are of similar beliefs, interests, and/or care and husbandry practices. Some groups for example focus on the rescue and re-homing of older animals that are in need of permanent homes, others are chat type forums for pet hedgehog enthusiasts, whereas other groups are geared more toward breeders.
The two main organizations that hold “ sanctioned shows” are the Hedgehog World Group and the International Hedgehog Association. I personally have had the privilege to attend shows put on by both organizations. At the time of this writing the Hedgehog World organization will host two shows this year and the International Hedgehog Association hosted one show this past April and will host yet another this Fall. Shows typically offer seven color classes with a Junior and Senior division for each gender. Shows typically host 25-100 hedgehogs and 25-50 participants.
Shows in and of themselves have several purposes. The International Hedgehog Association describes the benefits and purposes of shows on their site: http://hedgehogclub.com/why.html 6/20/11
… the number one benefit of hedgehog shows is public education and promotion. By bringing everyone together at shows, owners talk with one another and with experienced breeders, vets and a wide range of others. They share their knowledge, their ideas, their love of hedgehogs. Therefore, the number 2 benefit is the sharing of knowledge.
Antigone Means is a popular hedgehog show judge and she states in her article “What to Expect at a Hedgehog Show” http://hedgehogvalley.com/expect.html 6/20/11
These shows have several purposes: education, camaraderie, fun, and promotion of quality in breeding programs all go hand in hand.
Hedgehog shows participants are a mixture of hedgehog enthusiasts who might only own one hedgehog as a pet and breeders who might have a well-established breeding program. Shows typically judge animals based on the International Hedgehog Association Show Standards that utilize a 100-point judging criteria. Thirty three of the 100 points are allotted to temperament, 25 to form, and 18 to color followed by smaller increments of points assigned to face, eyes, ears, legs & feet, quills, and color pattern. Judging criteria is heavily weighted for temperament in order to encourage the promotion of hedgehogs as pets.
Millermeade Farms at Hedgehog Shows and Other Networking
As stated earlier, I have had the privilege to represent Millermeade Farms at many hedgehog shows over the past ten years. Unfortunately, hedgehog shows are almost always quite a distance from our farm. The closest show this year was 275 miles (443 km) away which we were unable to attend and the other shows are 660 (1062 km) , 829 (1334 km), and 1174 (1889 km) miles away and we will not be able to attend due to high travel costs. Shows are a great way for breeders to network with other breeders, exchange/sell breeding stock, attend seminars, and share knowledge and experience with new hedgehog owners.
Cooperating with other breeders in exchanging bloodlines as well as learning new thoughts and ideas about breeding practices, diet, care and handling is critical to the survival of hedgehogs as pets. One of my favorite parts of being a breeder is meeting other hedgehog enthusiasts and having the opportunity to share my love of such a unique animal with others.