Tag Archives: Pets

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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