A conservative Member of Parliament wants the United Kingdom to embrace the hedgehog as its national animal. Just—don’t embrace it too hard, because you’ll end up getting stuck.
“What I am calling for is for hedgehogs to become our iconic animal,” Oliver Colvile, who reps Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, told the Times of London. It’s not just because hedgehogs are cute, either—these picturesque little Beatrix Potter critters’ numbers have cratered in recent decades, and Colvile is a dedicated campaigner for their conservation. He has some very specific ideas he’d like to see implemented, too:
“What we need to do is get holes created [in fences],” he told The Times. “The government needs to make it as easy as possible for hedgehogs to move between gardens to get more room. The key to that, ideally, is to make a hole.”
“The creation of specialist habitats when building new housing developments would certainly help in making a statement of intent and would, I hope, begin to boost the population of this beloved animal,” he added, as well as suggesting that the controversial badger cull would help protect hedgehog populations.
Strangely, Colvile’s proposal has not been met with universal enthusiasm. The BBC reports that in the debate after he made his clarion call in the House of Commons—which you should read in full, and included the line, “My relationship with the hedgehog goes back to my own childhood in suburban Woking, when I was read by my actress mother Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’”—environment (!) minister Rory Stewart delivered this harsh response:
“Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that when confronted with danger rolls over into a little ball and puts its spikes up?
“Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that sleeps for six months of the year, or would we rather return to the animal that is already our national symbol, the lion?”
Counterpoint: Think of all the stuffed hedgehogs in souvenir shops!
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