We do not have native hedgehogs in the Americas. The little spiny mammals that wander about at night inhabit most of the planet but disappeared from the Western Hemisphere during one of our mass extinctions millions of years ago. Since the 1980s some dwarf hedgehogs from Africa have been available in American pet stores, but most of us only know the mammal from Beatrix Potter stories, Monty Python skits, or video games.
I am not sure why an American publisher decided to reprint Englishman Hugh Warwick's The Hedgehog's Dilemma: A Tale of Obsession, Nostalgia, and the World's Most Charming Mammal. Was the pet craze responsible or do books about British topics attract Anglophiles? Do enough Americans see Warwick on BBC Wildlife to have made his book viable in the market? Whatever, it is here and it is pretty good reading for someone who likes to know what he or she might encounter tromping around in British woods and flying to remote China in search of rare hedgehogs.
According to Warwick, people have ridiculous feelings about British hedgehogs, which he describes as "smelly, flea-ridden, solitary, prickly, and nocturnal." Other than roll up into a ball when threatened, they do not really do much that can be called cute. But he and many other people love them. They put food in their gardens for night visitors, who actually do quite well on their own eating insects. People rush injured or sick hegdehogs to a growing network of animal rescue centers, including the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire. Many belong to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
The mass neglect and removal of British agricultural hedges has reduced the overall hedgehog population, but the hogs who have moved into verdant suburbs are doing well. As houses with gardens are replaced by multi-unit buildings and parking lots, hedgehogs are again being displaced. Warwick and his friends at the BHPS are concerned and fighting for hedgehog rights.
You'll learn all this and much more if you read The Hedgehog's Dilemma, which is available in nearly 300 American libraries. If your library does not have it, it will gladly borrow it from one that does.
Warwick, Hugh. The Hedgehog's Dilemma: A Tale of Obsession, Nostalgia, and the World's Most Charming Mammal. Bloomsbury, 2008. ISBN 9781596914773