Tag Archives: Hedgehogs

Hedgehog

28 Feb

There is really only one word to describe the book “Hedgehog” by Hugh Warwick, and that word is ‘enchanting‘.

“Hedgehog” is loaded with lots of facts about hedgehogs.  Did you know, for example, that there are fourteen different species of hedgehog?

But what makes this delightful little book a cut above other animal books is the wonderful chapters on hedgehogs in art, literature, and philosophy.

Growing up in New Zealand with hedgehogs living in our large back yard (we had a quarter of an acre), I got to see the wonderful procession of mother and hoglets on several occasions, and developed an abiding love for these adorable, and quirky, little creatures.  So imagine my delight when New Zealand cartoonist Burton Silver got a mention for his cartoon hedgehogs.  There is also an illustration from one of his strips.

There are many beautiful pictures of hedgehogs, hedgehog art, hedgehog toys etc.

This book is the perfect gift for the hedgehog enthusiast in your life.

Highly recommended.

Otterly Adorable

2 Jul

A friend posted a photo of an incredibly cute otter (no, not a Benedict Cumberbatch photo) on her Facebook page a couple of days ago.  It triggered a train of thought.  Warm memories of happy times spent at Auckland Zoo watching the otters.

One of my favourite places to visit as a child (and when I grew up) was the zoo.  It was a major expedition to get there.  Involving two buses and about two hours travel time (allowing for bus waiting time).  I used to have to badger my mum to take me to the zoo, until I was about 10, and she decided I was old enough to go by myself.  Now that’s something guaranteed to make today’s child rearing experts shudder!

At least once every school holidays I would pack up some sandwiches, fruit, and a drink and make my equivalent of an expedition up the Orinoco.

The point of my expedition was always to spend hours outside the otter enclosure.  I absolutely adored those little critters.  Cute, playful and curious.  Much like my pet hedgehogs ( https://margysmusings.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/a-skirt-full-of-hedgehogs/ ).  And yes, it hasn’t escaped me, as a Sherlock fan, that my two favourite animals were always otters and hedgehogs.  Not sure if it’s ironic or just downright weird.

Anyway, back to the zoo.  There was a bench really close to the enclosure where I could sit for hours and just watch the otters.  The enclosure was open to the air, with a low stone wall, and a large pool for the otters to swim in.

People would come and go, pausing to watch for a few minutes, then wander away to look at something they considered more interesting, like the lions or the polar bears.  Me, I’d sit there, chewing a sandwich and watching my little friends at play.

After a while, the otters would realise that they had company.  First one, then several, would come to the wall of the enclosure and stand there watching me!  No fear behaviour, just curiosity.  Then they would start to play up.  Diving off rocks, running along logs, pouncing on each other, all the while watching me with one eye as if to say, “See, we’re adorable and this is why you are watching us.”  It was magical and utterly enchanting.  Otters are such cute little show offs.

Eventually, I would get up to go.  The otters would stop what they were doing and run to the wall, to say goodbye (I assumed that’s what the noises were they were making) and watch me leave.

When I was about nine my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I replied “Famous.”  He asked me why.  “Because famous people get to pat the animals when they go to the zoo.  I want to pat the otters.”

I still do.

A Skirt Full of Hedgehogs

8 Apr

Autumn evenings tend to make me nostalgic.  Last night I was thinking about my childhood in New Zealand, and the family of hedgehogs that lived under our house.

There were six of them.  The two largest ones, whom I assumed were the parents, I dubbed Henry and Henrietta.  I was such an original child!  Their offspring I named Prickles, Tickles, Bounce and Smudge.  Late summer through to the end of Autumn they would come out from under the house to feed and play in the last light of day.

My father encouraged them.  They ate the insects that attacked his vegetable garden. We also gave them little treats of bread soaked in milk, and canned cat food.  Something that would no doubt give wildlife experts conniption fits today.

I was totally fascinated by the hedgehogs.    Watching them lumber along like so many tiny spiked tanks was such a joy.

Hedgehogs are gorgeous animals.  Intelligent, playful and affectionate.  Once they realized that I wouldn’t try to hurt them, I had an abundance of animal playmates.

My fondest memories are of Henry and Henrietta wombling off to the vegie patch, leaving the little ones to climb all over me as if I was a specially designed hedgehog obstacle course.

Bounce got his/her name from the habit of trying to jump up rather than climb.  He never managed it.  Hedgehogs can’t jump, but they can bounce when they fail.  Hence the name. Though his personality was bouncy as well.

Smudge had a little wisp of brown fur over his snout which looked like a spot of dirt.  I was forever stroking that little spot.  He’d make little happy grunting noises. 

Prickles was the least friendly. He would skitter up for a brief pat then go nosing off after his parents. The Mycroft of hedgehogs.

Tickles was, well, ticklish.  Did you know that if you tickle a hedgehog’s tummy they make a noise somewhere between a grunt and a giggle?  They also screw up their eyes in bliss.

I lost count of the number of busy bodies who told my parents I shouldn’t be allowed to touch the hedgehogs.  She’ll get fleas/ringworm/assorted other parasites.  Nope.  Not once did I catch anything from my beloved hedgehogs.  Maybe the fact I was always stringent in washing my hands after handling them.  I did the same with any animal I touched.  And, less frequently, some people I had to touch!

My mother’s only real complaint was having to wash little muddy paw prints off my skirts.  Not that I think she really minded.  When I think back I can see her standing in the back doorway, a small smile on her face as I sat on the grass with my skirt full of hedgehogs.

Part of the reason I think this all came to mind was my seeing a piece of Sherlock fan art yesterday of Sherlock holding a hedgehog that was licking his nose.

For the uninitiated, a section of the Sherlock fandom compares Sherlock to an Otter and John to a Hedgehog.  Don’t ask, because I have no bloody idea why.  

Just something about one cute little picture made me think of Prickles, Tickles, Bounce and Smudge who gave me so much love so many years ago.

I wish Australia had hedgehogs.  I miss them.

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