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40 Things We Learned At The Hedgehog Convention

Hedgehogs are happiness.

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.

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.

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.

4. But ALL hedgehogs are beautiful.

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

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.

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

9. You can also call them "hedgies" or "pogs."

10. And their humans aren't owners; they're "guardians."

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

12. A hedgie-con is a really big deal if you're a hedgehog person. People traveled from all over the country to show off their hedgehog pride.

13. Hedgehogs are kind of messy...

14. ... but that's OK, because they are also insanely cute.

15. Even when they only have three legs. ESPECIALLY when they only have three legs. This three-legged badass is called Valkyrie.

16. Hedgehogs like to be as close to their humans as possible.

This is Brian. He told us that he likes to handle his hedgehogs shirtless because they like to be as close to him as possible.

17. Hedgehog judging is a serious business.

To be a hedgehog judge, you have to take hours of training.

And you have to be a junior judge at several hedgehog shows before you're fully certified by the International Hedgehog Association.

This is Martina, the hedgehog judge. She is too good and beautiful for this world.

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

She worked hard to make every hedgehog feel special, while maintaining incredibly high standards for hedgehog conformity.

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.

19. The important categories for judging a hedgehog are: temperament, quill coat thickness, and whether they have a "teardrop-shaped face."

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

21. Here is an example of a perfect hedgehog. He won first place in his class because he had a great temperament and a perfectly teardrop-shaped face.

22. When you see a perfect hedgie at a hedgehog show, you clap by raising your arms up in the air, so as not the scare the talent.

23. When hedgehogs are in a bad mood it's called being "huffy," and it can lose your hedgie valuable points during a show.

24. One trick to keep your hedgehog still is to blow on them gently.

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

26. Not all hedgehogs are hedgehogs! These animals are called "tenrecs" — they're not hedgehogs, even though they used to be...

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

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.

28. Hedgehogs feel safest when they're inside their hedgie bags.

Especially if their bag is decorated with their interests in mind.

29. Hedgehogs are cutest when they're lying on their backs.

30. Which is kind of a lot of the time.

31. According to one hedgehog guardian, some boy hedgehogs get nervous around girl hedgehogs and turn themselves into balls.

32. The world's fattest hedgehog is named Regina.

She may also be the world's cutest hedgehog.

It's impossible to hold Regina without feeling overwhelmingly happy.

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

33. Hedgehogs have crazy long tongues and they like to lick their noses.

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."

35. Hedgehogs collect points every time they get a ribbon at a certified hedgehog show...

... and the hedgehogs with the most points are admitted to the top secret "hedgehog military."

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

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

37. No one gets left out at a hedgehog show. The "non-comformational" hedgehogs are all given their own special awards in the "Square Pogs" competition.

38. For example, one crotchety hedgehog who'd recently become more outgoing was named "Most Inspiring Hedgehog."

39. Everyone who meets a hedgehog falls in love. This girl was just staying at the hotel with her parents, but her eyes lit up when she pet her first hedgehog.

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.