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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 !

Thursday, September 18, 2014

the uses of the hedgehog

A great reason to have a pet hedgehog: it annoys the cat.

. . . But the commercial practicality of our civilization looks askance at the hedgehog. We do not eat it. No one milks a hedgehog, and it never lays eggs. Formerly the Romans, indeed, employed its spiny cuticle for ''hacking" hemp, and farmers on the Continent still place it upon the muzzles of weaned calves (?? - Curator); but with us even these insignificant titles to commercial value have been taken away by the adoption for those purposes of mechanical contrivances of leather and iron (Oh, it must keep them from nursing - Curator). Albertus Magnus used to recommend a hedgehog's right eye fried in oil for those who wished to see as well by night as by day; but no specialist of note recommends it now. The only sphere of possible utility still open to the hedgehog in the nineteenth century is the domestic circle; for a tame hedgehog has its uses. It annoys the cat and quenches blackbettles (sp). Occasionally it gets under the grate and walks off with a red-hot coal upon its back, filling the house with the odor of a brush-maker's manufactory on fire. This, however, is only an error of judgment on the urchin's part, as is also its occasional disappearance down a drain, thereby causing considerable inconvenience to the household. But there is one great blot upon the hedgehog's moral character; for, like the Reverend Stiggins, its "particular wanity" is rum. No one, however, need pander to its low tastes; and in many respects the hedgehog might be found as useful as the dog. At the Angel Inn, at Felton, in Northumberland, one specimen used to act as turnspit as well as the dog that bears that name; and if it cannot bark at thieves or run after the carriage, still the hedgehog, as an article of domestic furniture, has many good points. This a burglar with his boots off might easily find to his cost. . .

Phil Robinson, in the Gentlemen's Magazine; excerpted in  Fur Trade Review, vol. 19 no. 2 (September 1, 1891) p. 390.

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