Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hedgehog visit

So, if you're like me, you probably never actually gave much thought to where hedgehogs come from (no, not from their mother - I mean where they are native to), although you may have acknowledged that they are adorable and briefly pondered getting one as a pet (was that just me?). It turns out, they are native to Switzerland! And probably many other surrounding countries, but that is irrelevant to this story. And yes, this is how I tell stories orally, and it takes me a long time to get to the point then, too.

Anyway - so I had never given it a thought until we were in the US driving on rural North Carolina roads, and my friend from Boston noted the number of roadkill present - mainly squirrels, groundhogs, and the like, although we did see an intact dead deer, which is unpleasant even for WV-raised me - and this led to a discussion of commonly-sighted animals. My friend is originally from Arizona, so in my mind she deals with armadillos and roadrunners (no?). B noted that he was used to seeing hedgehogs, and we had the following exchange:

Me: Why would you see hedgehogs?

B: ...Um, because they're in Switzerland.

Me: Why are they in Switzerland?

B: <weird look, probably pondering his PhD-wife and her stunning ignorance> ...Because they are. They're native there.


B: Yes - you've seen one.

Me: No I haven't! I would remember that!

B: Yes, you have - remember when we were walking along with my family, to the restaurant after we moved?

Me: You mean when it was cold and your brother and I ran ahead to be warm and you guys took forever?

B: Oh, yeah, right. Well, we were looking at a hedgehog.


B: Um, I didn't think it was that big of a deal. They're not uncommon. What were you going to do, go back out in the cold rain?


...I'm rather excitable.

Anyway, so last night I was lying around on our floor blanket that acts as a sofa  productively unpacking our suitcases when B, who was sitting at our kitchen table told me to come over quickly. He is the exact antonym of excitable, but his voice was raised and he sounded urgent (also not an adjective that one associates with him), so I came over right away. I thought maybe he'd caught two people messing around in the bushes.

Not two people messing around in the bushes. WAY COOLER than that.
 But there, on our patio, was a HEDGEHOG!! It was much larger than the pet ones I'd seen in the US. It was standing right next to our door and waddling about in an adorable way. I freaked out and starting turning off lights and rolling down storm blinds so that I could try to get a picture. It moved off from the door some but hunkered down against the wall and stayed put. All my picture efforts through the glass door were pretty horrible failures, so I risked running off to get my decent camera (as opposed to my cell phone). It was still there when I returned, so I managed to open the door and get a couple shots of it (I was hesitant to open the door or use the flash - are hedgehogs aggressive? I know that their spines don't latch on like porcupine's, but I still didn't want him/her charging me. B assured me it wouldn't.)

Another shot. Yes, it looks the exact same, but it's not.
I grabbed a few shots and posted a bad cell phone shot to fb, and it was gone by the time I wanted to take more. Sadness. Still, I was thrilled that it had come by to visit! Then I started to be concerned that maybe they eat basil and I would have to somehow find some anti-hedgehog plant spray (my mother's gardening experience in WV was one continuous fight against roaming deer and rabbits). However, I was happy to see that according to Wikipedia, they are actually well-liked by gardeners because they eat insects, slugs, and such (and they are super freaking adorable). So yay! I hope I didn't scare it too much with my flashing camera and that it will come back to visit many times.

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