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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is one.

They aren't native to the Americas, or to Australia, and they aren't porcupines of any kind.

If you see a big one yelling, "Dinsdale!" you're either in an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, or you seriously need to get some sleep.

Surely you have guessed by now we speak of the hedgehog. Don't let their small size fool you. This bristly little creature has been the subject of stories for hundreds, even thousands of years. Here is a tidbit from Hedgehog Central's Myth and Legend page:

"Even the Romans had hedgehog myths. Here in North America, where we have no indigenous species of hedgehog, we celebrate “Groundhog Day”. Did you know that the hedgehog was originally the forecaster of spring for the Romans? “If during hibernation, he (the hedgehog) looks out of his den on 2nd February and and sees his shadow it means there is a clear moon and six more weeks of winter so he returns to his burrow.” To this day, groundhogs “Punxsutawney Phil” and “Wiarton Willie” battle it out to see who is the better weather forecaster, but little do they or their handlers know that the original prognosticator of spring was a hedgehog!"

The Chinese call it ci-wei, "needle animal," and the Hindi aik parkar ka jangli chuha, "a spikey sort of mouse". There's 14 species, but the one in the pet stores is the African White-Bellied.

Go discover the hedgehog.

PS: A sonic hedgehog is not just a video character, it's actually a variety of mammalian protein that signals development of digits and limbs -- to totally, grossly oversimplify. Complicated version here.

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