cuddles with hedgehogs and other adventures

Just back from the Bristol Festival of Nature and now preparing to go head-to-head with the wonderful Kate Long in a face-off between hedgehogs and water voles … who will win? Why not come and join the fun! Then it is off to Edinburgh with extInked to reveal my leg to the unwitting visitors to the Botanic Gardens.

The Bristol event was a lot of fun and a clear reminder that behind the impressive viewing figures for Springwatch and other BBC wildlife programmes there are real, active people who have a passion to learn more about the world around them.

Before my talk I was interviewed on the BIG SCREEN …. never before have I been so large!

 

You can just make me out in the top right hand corner!

But it was after my talk about The Beauty in the Beast that the real business began – and it was a salutary lesson. I got a good audience and they asked sensible questions, but when I settled down in the tent with the wonderful People’s Trust for Endangered Species crowds swarmed in …. the reason?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple – I was ‘with hedgehog‘ … the lesson learned for me is that however good a talk I give I can never compete with the thrill of meeting a real live hedgehog. This one, Holly, was being looked after by Mary from Hedgehog Rescue. I do not want to become a hedgehog carer, I simple do not have the capacity to manage that demanding job. And I do not want a ‘pet hedgehog’. But I also recognise that the amount of information I could impart to an audience would be enormously increased if I had grabbed their attention with a real live spiky hog …. so has anyone got a brilliant solution to this conundrum?

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6 Comments

  1. Posted 18 June 2012 at 15:42 | Permalink

    I think the time has come to get one/some for your garden, but have good fences so it can’t wander off, and scoop one up every time you do a talk? This way, it won’t be a pet. Or at least, it won’t think it’s a pet.

  2. Posted 18 June 2012 at 16:33 | Permalink

    Well a nice large substitute would work if you weren’t take your stuffed one along? Or a toy hog (from round the world, maybe, so classic Potter version or naked; or a twiggy wooden one; or origami, or pin cushion or one made from a cut up coke can. I feel you could run this as a workshop and then choose the best and use for all your talks… Or just ask your children to sort it. Rather obvious answers, apologies, nicola PS, glad you are enjoying being on tour. http://homemadekids.wordpress.com

  3. Kate Long
    Posted 18 June 2012 at 16:42 | Permalink

    Glad it went well. No, nothing can compete with a real life mammal!

    Looking forward to the gig on Wednesday. X

  4. Posted 18 June 2012 at 19:54 | Permalink

    Pay for Holly & I to come on tour with you ;)

  5. Posted 18 June 2012 at 21:44 | Permalink

    Of course everyone always wants to see a real ‘live’ hedgehog. At roadshows there are always people who look disappointed when the rescue carrier we take doesn’t have a real hog in it. Whenever anyone contacts us to give a talk, one of the first questions is “can you bring a hedgehog”.

    Then the lengthy answer comes from us as to why we will never take a live hedgehog to a show or a talk, “it’s a wild animal and needs to remain so”, “it’s only with us because it is ill, how would you feel if dragged out of hospital to be shown to a group of strange animals”, “stress is a killer”, etc etc.

    It is hard, but I think that even though the hog could be the star its an opportunity to explain that wild animals are wonderful because they are wild and watched from a distance if you are lucky and have the patience.

    I get schools and groups coming back time again for talks and now kids tell me why I haven’t brought a live hog with me, so it isn’t all bad. For us people at events and talks have to be satisfied with my oversize hedgehog hand puppet and our 2ft tall cuddly hog ‘Higgy’, oh and me – which is the downside!

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  • Hugh Warwick holding a toad

  • Hugh Warwick is an ecologist and writer with a particular fondness for hedgehogs. His first book, A Prickly Affair, remains the only book to have accolades from both Jeanette Winterson and Ann Widdecombe on the cover. The Beauty in the Beast is published in May 2012 and takes him on a journey in search of other animals. And in November 2012 he returns to hedgehogs with a book about the iconography of the animal.

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