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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Copulating hedgehogs cause German scare
Hedgehog
Hedgehogs snort loudly when they get excited
German police sent out to investigate agonised screams reported by an elderly lady were prepared for the worst.


They weren't actually involved in the act itself - but were carrying out preliminary love games

Police spokesman
Instead they found a pair of hedgehogs preparing to mate in a hedge.

The frightened 72-year-old from the small town of Maintal had alerted police after hearing what sounded like cries of pain and distress outside her house.

Two officers were sent to comb the area.

"We found hedgehogs," a Maintal police spokesman told BBC News Online. "They weren't actually involved in the act itself, but were carrying out preliminary love games."

The male hedgehog, when hoping for copulation, approaches the female and shuffles around her, snorting to try to get her attention.

The female is usually more interested in foraging for food, leaving the male to circle closer and snort increasingly loudly.

The frightened Maintal resident told police that the screams had gone on for more than two hours, suggesting that the female hedgehog was not immediately compliant.

Despite investing so much effort in mating, the male hedgehog leaves the female immediately after the act to raise the offspring on her own.

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09 Jul 02 | Scotland
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