The Hedgehog Is Britain’s New National Emblem

Could-be contenders - the brown hare, the little owl, the horse chestnut tree - are all invasive species in Britain, so don’t qualify as a national emblem

Photo: Tony Wills

Great Britain’s hedgehog—perhaps most famously depicted as Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle—is set to become the country’s national emblem. BBC Wildlife magazine decided it was time the U.K. elected a national wildlife emblem, so it launched a poll of several critter contenders.

It seemed curious to us that a country of nature lovers, gardeners and ramblers, boasting perhaps the highest collective membership of conservation organisations per capita anywhere, should not have a wild animal or plant emblem to call its own.

Around 10,000 people participated, and the hedgehog reined supreme, amassing 42 percent of popular votes.

The prickly insectivore with a prodigious appetite for caterpillars, beetles, slugs and snails (not to mention noisy sex) was a firm favourite.

We think it’s an admirable national wildlife icon for Britain.

Wildlife thinks the hedgehog’s “friendly” disposition and its propensity for helping out in the garden by gobbling down slugs contributed to its landslide victory. The badger and the oak tree came in second and third place, respectively.

The Independent points out that some would-be contenders—the brown hare, the little owl, the horse chestnut tree—are all invasive species in Britain, and therefore don’t qualify as a potential national emblem.

The hedgehog, however, has been rooting around the UK for at least 9,500 years, making it more native than most of our own ancestors.

More from

Bedtime Reading from Beatrix Potter, Amateur Mycologist 
The Long and Winding History of the Thames 

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.