As seen on my way to a New Year’s barbecue, one of a pair of youngling hedgehogs rummaging around in leaf letter.
This baby hedgehog is adorable. An adorable noxious invasive pest.
European hedgehogs are one of thousands of species settlers introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century as acclimatisation societies worked to recreate a vision of bucolic England. Hedgehogs were also imported by keen gardeners to be, ironically, biological pest control systems and eat lettuce-ravaging slugs and snails. Train guards even helped distribute them around the country, and they thrived pretty much everywhere. Unforrrrrtunately, hedgehogs find native species like weta, skinks, and the chicks and eggs of ground-nesting birds delicious. And they enjoy a complete lack of badgers and generally anything else which eats hedgehogs. The Department of Conservation would like the cute critters to be, well, not here.
But I haven’t entirely overcome a childhood contaminated with the works of Beatrix Potter and other English anthropomorphised critter-propaganda creators. There’s a part of me that knows toads drive fast cars, and talking badgers have a key part to play in helping lost princes regain thrones. That part finds this cute little gutter pig winsome and charming.