Looks that quill: The dark side of hedgehog Instagram
When viral algorithms bring joy whilst rescuers grieve. Noelle Mateer goes beneath the tiny top hats and GIF-able snuggle sessions to take a look at what happens when a species goes viral on social media. Here, she explores a prickly tale of internet virility, a lucrative and disease-ridden industry behind cute Instagram accounts of pygmy hedgehogs. "As I approached 100 hedgehogs followed, the algorithm began to suspect that I too had a hedgehog, or at least might be in the market for one. It suggested accounts selling hedgehog merch, hedgehog supplies, and, in some cases, actual hedgehogs. A shop in the UK offered a music-festival-themed set, including a tent, lanterns, a set of pint glasses, and two “mini resin burgers.” Some hedgehogs’ bios linked out to Etsy stores, where they sold their own props."