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40 Things We Learned At The Hedgehog Convention

Hedgehogs are happiness.

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Last week, we went to the Eastern States Hedgehog Show in La Plata, Md. Hedgehog conventions are like dog shows except better, because they have hedgehogs in them. People brought their hedgies from all over the country to participate in the Best in Show competition, meet other hedgies and hedgie-people, and just generally have a great time. It was awesome. Here is what we learned:

1. The first rule of Hedgie-Con is that you better be ready to enjoy yourself.

Andrew Gauthier

Everyone put signs on their hotel room doors with pictures of their hedgehogs. It was like a bunch of dressing rooms for hedgehog celebrities.

2. Hedgehogs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, each with a technical name, like pinto or charcoal, to describe what "hedgehog class" they are in.

Andrew Gauthier

These hedgehogs were meeting for the first time. They seemed pretty chill about it.

3. At first we thought the judge was just being whimsical when she was calling certain hedgehogs "a beautiful snowflake," but it turns out "snowflake" is actually a technical classification.

5. ESPECIALLY when they are wearing little hats. Hedgies look GREAT in hats.

Hedgehogs wearing hats is a thing. The hedgehogs in hats competition this year was held in honor of a hedgehog named Prince Harrison, who was known for being quite a hat-fancier.

6. Hedgehog owners hate the name Sonic. If you have a hedgehog, you better be creative with the name. The best name at this convention was Sir Felix Gaylord Whumplebunch.

7. But it does turn that they are a blur when they run, just like Sonic himself.

They are also very difficult to photograph, because they are always scampering around everywhere like they are late for an important meeting.

8. Hedgehogs aren't pets; they're "quill kids."

Andrew Gauthier

A lot of people refer to their hedgies as their "kids" or their "quill kids." When the hedgehog judge told us that she had to "leave her kids at home," it took us a while to figure out that she was talking about her own hedgehogs. It's pretty adorable.

11. After a while, hedgehogs and their guardians start to look a lot alike.

Andrew Gauthier

This lady, along with her hedgehog, Thorny, wins the "Hedgehog/Human lookalike" competition pretty much every year. She really knocks it out of the park.

Martina is from Austria and she took great time and care to examine each and every pog.

Andrew Gauthier

She told us that she loves to judge hedgehog competitions not just because she loves hedgehogs, but because she knows it makes the events so much more special for the owners.

18. In some rounds, even when only one hedgehog is competing, he is not awarded a first place blue ribbon. This is because hedgehog standards are uncompromising.

20. It's the job of a hedgehog guardian to make sure their hedgehog is happy while being judged.

Andrew Gauthier

Hedgehog guardians had their hands full trying to keep their hedgies from running off their little judging blankets to hide. This guy was really good at keeping his hedgies occupied for the judging.

25. When a hedgehog passes away, it is called "Crossing the Rainbow Bridge."

This is a monument to a hedgehog named Speedy, who crossed the rainbow bridge last year, but not before amassing a ton of ribbons for basically kicking butt at hedgehog competitions.

When the continents split, they adapted to Madagascar and learned to climb.

Andrew Gauthier

Sheila, who is the brains behind this entire convention, brought her two tenrecs for people to see.

27. Apparently hedgehogs like sitting on the couch with their humans, but they don't watch the TV... they just like to watch their person.

Andrew Gauthier

One hedgehog guardian told us that her hedgehog sits on the couch with her while she watches her TV shows and keeps checking up on her just to make sure she is still there.

Everyone wanted to get a photo with Regina. She's just that special.

Andrew Gauthier

Along with Sir Felix Whumplebunch, who has a popular YouTube channel, Regina was one of the most famous hedgies at the competition. You can follow her on Facebook at The Regina Monologues.

34. Hedgehog guardians often fall into it accidentally: Regina's grand-guardian told us that his daughter came home from college with an "unplanned hedgehog."

Andrew Gauthier

"And now here we are," he said. He also said that if someone had told him 20 years ago when he was living a wild life in New York that in 20 years time he'd be at a hedgehog convention, he'd have thought they were crazy. Even though he thought it was weird, he was extremely supportive of his daughter and her passion for hedgies.

Yep. There is a hedgehog military and it is a REAL THING.

Andrew Gauthier

One person showed us all the awards that her hedgehog, Speedy, had won. Before Speedy crossed the rainbow bridge, he was the "most decorated hedgehog of all time" and a two-star general in the hedgehog military, according to his person. Pretty big deal in the hedgehog community.

36. Winning "Best In Show" is a great honor for both hedgehogs and humans.

Andrew Gauthier

This beautiful hedgehog won "Best In Show" after five grueling hours of hedgehog judging.

40. And even though not every hedgehog gets a first-place ribbon, every single one of them is a winner. Because they have tiny little snuffly noses and spines on their back and if that's not a winner, it's not even clear what is.

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