Terrified Germans are calling 1-1-0 (the country’s equivalent of 9-1-1) over loud screaming and gasping noises they hear every night, The Guardian reports. As it turns out, the noises are coming from hedgehogs, doing what hedgehogs do this time of year to ensure that there will be baby hedgehogs.
To some, the noises sound like neighboring human animals doing the same thing. To others, the noises sound like injured (non-human) animals gasping or screaming in pain.
Regardless, the noises have led to several calls to emergency services, only to end with the police discovering the distressed noises were coming from hedgehogs that were in anything but distress.
The animals make a variety of noises depending on the situation: clicking, hissing, snarling, purring, and even loud screaming.
“Hedgehogs snarl loudly during the hours-long mating ritual and the males make the most noise,” says a hedgehog expert at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.
Needless to say, those sounds have caused some alarm, figuratively and literally. In one case, for example, a pair of hedgehogs doing their thing at a nearby school playground set off motion-activated security lights, while neighbors called the cops, put off by the “suspicious” noises. The school’s caretaker was dragged out of bed, and several police officers looked around before the noises were finally attributed to the animals. The police officer who wrote the report had a sense of humor about it, however, entitling his report “Prickly Intruders.”
Below you can watch a video of a distressed hedgehog screaming. And no, there’s no baby hedgehog-making involved; he was just having a bad day.
Authorities are asking that neighbors try to have some patience about the situation. For starters, disturbing an animal in the midst of a mating ritual is never a good idea. Further, hedgehog populations in urban areas are in decline, so leaving the animals alone to procreate is probably the best thing to do, all things considered.
If you must break up the ritual, which the Germans affectionately call “Igelkarussell,” or “hedgehog carousel,” the beam of a flashlight will usually do the trick.
Though the pointy-looking barbs on the hedgehogs’ skin make them resemble porcupines, they are actually from completely different orders of animals. Porcupines are rodents, like rats and beavers, while hedgehogs belong to the same order that includes shrews and moles. According to Sciencing, porcupines are considerably larger than hedgehogs, and their quills can detach, unlike those of the much-smaller hedgehogs.