I have been hard at work editing the audio I recorded during my research for The Beauty in the Beast … am just over half way through now … and it has been wonderful to be reminded just how much fun I had out with my ambassadors as they did their best to seduce me away from hedgehogs …

here is the page on which the audio files currently reside – have a listen and tell me what you think. The badger and bat interviews do not have the ‘intro’ which explains that they are perhaps better understood in conjunction with the book – will sort that out in time for the website – the new version of urchin.info – which is where this blog will be shifting. 

That will happen in time for the big event … an event that got just a little bit closer when I received an envelope containing … THE BOOK


it looks even better than I could have hoped … even the end-papers are all printed with cuteness … 

Official press launch is 7th May, but it is available from Amazon from the 26th April … not sure when the real shops will get their hands on it … but please, spread the word, book me for talks – I want to spread the message as widely as possible … and more of that message soon ….

Okay – an experiment. Or a warning!

Things are going to be changing around here in the next month or so, my new website is being built to arrive in time for the launch of my new book, The Beauty in the Beast (published by Simon and Schuster at the end of April). And part of this new website will be a little additional bit to go with the book – I recorded all of the interviews with my wonderful animal advocates, and am now in the process of editing them into short pieces … so not only will you be able to read about these amazing people, you will be able to hear them too.

And here are two of them and I would really like to know what you think. Would this be something you would like to hear in addition to the book? Do you think it will help me to sell copies of the book? Please do let me know.

First – Gareth Morgan, the mid-Wales badgerman and

Second – Huma Pearce, Mostly Bats!

Oh – and to give you a little extra treat – here are a some pictures too

First – thank you for the many people who took time to read through the last post and the many many comments. I was surprised at the depth of feeling and hope that I have not re-started any once forgotten problems.

Reading through what has been written, I think I have a better handle on my position. Or at least a way of expressing it:

  • No wild animals should ever be taken from the wild and kept as a pet.
  • I think that hedgehogs, of whatever species, belong in the wild.
  • Pet hedgehogs (African species, possibly hybrids, and possibly subject to 10 or 20 generations of captivity) are unable to be returned to the wild.
  • The welfare of any hedgehogs that are kept in captivity should be paramount.
  • Breeding hedgehogs for profit is likely to lead to a reduction of the quality of conditions in which hedgehogs are kept.
  • If you are going to look after a pet hedgehog then please use this position to help promote the really important issues surrounding the well-being of ‘real’ hedgehogs out in the wild.
  • ‘They are just so cute’ is NOT reason enough to keep an animal in captivity (these are not animated teddy-bears).
So – my first list … and I am expecting that there are people out there who might be able to add to this, or critique ideas that are there – so please do!
And with respect to that last point – here is a link to a video on youtube featuring a pet hedgehog – which is designed to increase awareness of and interest in African (pygmy) Hedgehogs as potential pets. The message is good – that hedgehogs do not digest lactose well … we know that – NO to bread and milk, whatever your parents might have said (or even the illustrious Podushkas) … though I have to say there are great alternatives that do not involve the exploitation of cows. But, the use of a cute hedgehog will only make the demand higher and the risk, I fear, is that this will tip the UK situation from one where a few (frequently delightfully odd) folk keep hedgehogs as pets to one where the horror of the ‘must have fad pet’ emerges. And however well those few people who do breed hedgehogs keep their animals, and however much they may abhor the idea of this becoming a craze; there would be no craze if it were not for the few good people keeping interest in the animal as a pet alive. So everyone who is involved with keeping the offspring of the original Atelerix albiventris and Atelerix algirius must consider that risk and consider their culpability.
I know it might come as a surprise, but my life does not revolve around hedgehogs – I do have other interests, and this blog is going to slowly morph to include far more British wildlife as my new book gets closer to publication. The Beauty in the Beast is, in my opinion, even more fun that A Prickly Affair …  there are still hedgehogs, but there are also many many more wonderful animals. So, get pre-ordering! (after you have commented on this blog, of course)


I have come to the end of my mid-life crisis. It has taken two years, but I have finally made it. I have also come to the end of the active writing part of my new book – The Beauty in the Beast. It will be published by Simon & Schuster in May next year – and I have just had a sneak preview of the cover, which has left me quivering with excitement … I will check with the publishers, but if I am allowed to share it with you, I will.

But the end of my mid-life crisis … it began in November 2009 when I did three things for the first and last time. I did my first and last stand-up comedy. I did my first and last 5 Rhythms dance class and I got my first and last tattoo.

All fine, you might think, no fast women and loose cars. But the plan had been to keep it to that month. Oh, what a failure … so … I have been trying, with some degree of success, to make people laugh, defining my new hedgehog lecture as ecological standup; I have been dancing with the wonderful Chloe de Sousa ever since and … and on last Thursday I travelled to Leeds to get my second, and most definitely LAST, tattoo.

The first, and last, tattoo was of a hedgehog as part of extInked – about which I have written before. This final tattoo is the culmination of The Beauty in the Beast – a book that has taken me on a year long journey around the animal obsessives of Britain. I have been meeting people very like myself, with passions for other species – so I met the adder man of Norfolk, the mid-Wales badger man, the water vole woman of Shropshire and the otter woman of Devon. Fifteen people in total were tasked with trying to seduce me away from the hedgehog – and the winning species, well, I agreed that I would show my commitment by getting that animal permanently tattooed on my body.

And here it is, the wonderful Ink vs Steel‘s Simon Caves had been so impressed with extInked that he offered to ink me up for free. I think I am possibly the only person in a tweed jacket to have entered their premises, but they made me feel at home and this is the film I managed to shoot … an indication either of my extreme fortitude under the assault of the needle, or the lack of nerve endings in that part of my leg.

Here endeth my mid-life crisis … no more tattoos … almost definitely no more tattoos … but if I did, just as an exercise, hypothetically speaking … what should I have next?