Monday, August 07, 2006


I'm a big fan of hedgehogs. I saw one last night, close up. I was walking home at around 9pm down a wooded lane type thing and suddenly there it was, running along side me, sticking close to the kerb, snuffling through leaves, twigs and grit. It must have been a juvenile, I think, because it was fairly small and seemed to have that slightly reckless indifference about the close presence of a human which young mammals, too young to know better, often seem to possess. I was able to go right up to it, and stoop over to examine it without the animal becoming very much alarmed - it made a half hearted attempt to curl up into a ball as I got close, then seemed to think better of it, and continued to snuffle. They're funny things. They don't run so much as paddle wildly and frantically across the ground. They flap their feet around in a barely coordinated waddle - like a human toddler making its first attempt at a desperate run from mummy to toybox - but still move at quite a speed. It seemed, to me, to move with a kind of comic, exaggerated enthusiasm.

I can see why the creatures need spines. If it wasn't for this measure of defense, hedgehogs would almost certainly find themselves picked up and abducted by sentimental humans -then petted to death.

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