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A Bustle in the Hedgerow

Wherever hedgehogs go, drainpipes are the enemy.

Hedgehogs run wild in Europe. Although the little carnivorous creatures have suffered from loss of habitat, their population is stable, and they’re particularly beloved in the United Kingdom. They pop up regularly in small-town news items: they’re the perfect size to get lodged in drains, tangled in badminton nets, rolled up in haylage bales, or stepped on. If they’re lucky, the animals are brought to shelters and rehabilitated. Their lives are precarious, their misadventures perfect filler for slow news days. Over the past few years, illustrator Amy Jean Porter has immortalized some of these bumbling heroes of British newspapers, whose wandering, ineptitude, and penchant for milkshakes are strangely reminiscent of our own.

A man walking through his garden at night felt a telltale crunch under his flip-flop: “It was pitch black but I knew instantly it was a hedgehog.”, September 2013

A three-legged hedgehog was found wandering, but she was no wild thing: rescuers called her “quite tame.”

Yorkshire Evening Post, November 2013

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A half-naked hedgehog was discovered in a drain, “with only her rump being normal.” Rescuers helped her recover with regular aloe vera massages.

Bucks Herald, February 2014

A hedgehog “thought all its Christmases had come at once” when it saw an empty milkshake container—only to get its little head lodged inside.

Mirror, April 2014

One spiky hedonist’s passion for mealworms “meant her weight soared until she could not properly roll up to defend herself.”

Daily Mail, May 2014

A woman found a rare albino hedgehog near her house after her son described the animal as “glowing in the dark.”

Express, November 2015

Hedgehogs have the unfortunate distinction of being the same diameter as drainage holes; one poor creature in Glasgow had to be rescued with the help of two coat hangers.

Glasgow Live, September 2016

A promising hideout in Surrey turned out to be a tub of hot wax, trapping a hapless hedgehog who was rooting through a beauty salon’s trash.

Daily Mail, January 2017

Wrapped up in a haylage bale for over five months, this hedgehog survived by hibernating.

Ledbury Reporter, March 2017

A hedgehog was trapped in a badminton net in Somerset, which vets said “acted like Velcro when it caught on his spines and in his mouth.”

Metro, September 2013

A hedgehog was trapped under a building during renovation and discovered because of his scratching against a pipe. “Initially the call sounded like it was just a run of the mill ‘hedgehog down a hole’ but having dispatched local hedgehog carers ... to collect the unfortunate creature, the story became incredible,” said one employee of a hedgehog-rehab center; the creature had been trapped in there for over a week.

Newbury Today, March 2018

A minuscule baby hedgehog—a hoglet!—was found “by a very diligent young lady cleaning a field ... she heard the familiar peeping noise hoglets make when calling mum.”

Northumberland Gazette, July 2017

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