Some keepers who want to take their love of hedgehogs to the next level will either breed them or show them. Either one of these things can be a very time consuming hobby and you should think carefully about your own schedule and the health and personality of your pet before deciding to move forward, though in both cases the end results can be very rewarding.
The first hedgehog show was held in 1995 in Tacoma, Washington. In the two decades since, nearly 100 shows have been held across North America. These shows are similar to dog shows, where the individuals are judged on the basis of temperament and appearance. If you are interested in showing your hedgehog, you can find out more in-depth information or register your animal with the International Hedgehog Association (www.hedgehogclub.com/shows.html). The website isn’t especially great about updating its “upcoming shows” section, so you’ll probably find it easier to ask around in forums or Google search to find the events that are coming up in your area.
When hedgehogs are shown, they’re judged on a point system in a variety of categories. The largest number of points (33 possible) come from temperament. Judges are looking for a calm animal that’s unrolled and has its quills flat. They also give points for personality, and deduct 22 points (or all points for temperament, if they didn’t reach 22) if the hedgehog bites. The next biggest point section is for the animal’s form (25 possible) with points for the animal’s healthy weight and profile, as well as the shape of the rump and the flow of movement. The rest of the points are given based on appearance, with sections for the color and patterning, the quills, the legs, the ears, and the face. It’s important to note that even the most beautifully perfect-looking hedgehog won’t do well at a show if it’s not pleasant when around people.
In addition to awarding prizes for animals that excel, hedgehog shows serve as a meeting point for breeders and owners across the nation and can be a great place to get up to date on the latest in hedgehog care and knowledge. The goal of these shows is to disseminate as much knowledge as possible about the proper care and handling of these unique and beautiful animals. Even if you don’t plan on showing your hedgehogs, it may be worth it to check out a show in your area if you find yourself getting into the culture of hedgehog ownership.
Entering a show
The group sponsoring each show will have entry forms available. Most shows will let you enter an animal up through the day of the show, but this is usually more expensive than pre-registering and you should check on the guidelines of the individual event to be sure. Hedgehogs are first broken down by color class, then by age: Hedgehogs between 3 and 11 months are “A” class, and those older than 11 months are “B” class. Remember this is the age of the hedgehog at the time of the show. Color classes are discussed in more detail below. You can leave this section blank if you’re not sure where your animal fits; the judge can decide when you arrive.
Attendance at these shows usually costs between $20 and $100. Registering animals for judging or to participate in obstacle courses, games, and other events is usually cheaper—$5-$20 per animal (though you’ll need to buy an attendance pass before you can register your pet).
Preparing for a show
The maximum cage size at a hedgehog show is 2’X3’, so you will likely need to buy a special enclosure for show days. Make sure your animal has a bath and a nail trim a day or so before the show—you want him to put his best paw forward! If your animal develops any illnesses or contracts a parasite in the days before the show, you should not take him to the event. Not only could the movement stress out your animal and make him sicker, whatever he has might be contagious and could spread to other animals at the event.
There are 7 color classes recognized by the IHA. Including variants within the classes, there are a total of 92 recognized colorations. The 7 official classes are:
Pinto—Pinto is a patterning more than a coloration, and is the name given to any animal with patches of quill and skin that lack color, typically in a circular spot on either side. Pinto animals are judged on the symmetry of the patterning as well as the overall appearance.
Standard Coat—This is a hedgehog’s “normal” color pattern, with the black-banded white quills often referred to as either “salt and pepper” or “agouti.” This category also includes chocolate (dark brown) and gray or dark gray colorations.
Apricot—This category also includes, cinnamon, cinnacot, and champagne colorations—pretty much anything that’s more orangey than brown or black. All of these tend toward a pale orange-beige in the banding of the quills, and the animals may feature dark or ruby red eyes.
Snowflake—Snowflake animals have a mix of banded and non-banded quills, giving them a “snow dusted” look. The base color could be from any of the color categories, so long as about 50% of the quills are unbanded. The category also includes silver and charcoal variants.
White—Hedgehogs in the white category have no bands on the quills on their body, though they may have banded quills on the forehead. This is different from albino animals in that the skin, nose, and eyes retain pigmentation.
Albino—Albino animals have absolutely no pigmentation, giving them a pink nose and red eyes as well as a pure white coat.
Any other color—This is the catch-all category for colorations that don’t fit into the others. Included in this category are double-white, confetti, and tri varieties.