Friday, March 13, 2009

When is a hog not a hog but in truth a canary?

Thought I'd hook you with that question.

The answer: When the little snuffler is a hedgehog, no relation in truth to piggies at all except that both are mammals. Hedgehogs, argues author Hugh Warwick, also are a warning species, a canary in the coal mine. Their rapid and mysterious decline in their European and Asian homelands, signifies that something is not right in the world.

This is my last post on Warwick's book, "The Hedgehog's Dilemma." But I had to buy that book and I read it cover to cover. I have loved these little beasts since I was a boy in England, when a delightful older couple stopped my family's car on a country road there to prevent us from hitting one. They invited us all in for tea and a friendship began.

Many years later, in a misty Hungarian evening, I rescued a hedgehog myself as it scurried into a roadway. Tell me, what other wild animal can simply be scooped up barehanded -- albeit carefully -- and relocated like that?

Hedgehogs are not creatures of the deep woods, fleeing the sight and sound of man; nor are they citified vermin living off his garbage, like rats or landfill gulls. The inoffensive little insectivores live happily on the edge of his gardens or fields, at home in his world and yet vulnerable to it, scurrying about by night on their little errands, and snoring in the hedgerow by day.

From Warwick:

"Hedgehogs can do more to foment changes in our attitudes towards the environment than almost any other animal. It is only a short walk from thinking of the hedgehog as a rather cute garden visitor to realizing that the roads you drive on to the supermarket or the holidays you take all have an impact on your new-found friend.

"The journey hedgehogs have led me on has taken me from a sentimental love of wildlife through a pragmatic desire to understand something and into something quite special.

"So much can be said without words, so [if you are lucky enough to be in the lands a hedgehog calls home] don't be shy, get down on your hands and knees,lean forward and see what happens as you get nose to nose with a hedgehog. Relish and wallow in the moment of making a connection with the most charismatic creature on the planet."


Janice Thomson said...

Gosh what a cute little fella. I'd love to pick one up - pretty sure we don't have them here.

Magyar said...

_It interests me, that all animals at some point, become interactive with the other animal -us-.
_By using common sense and patience, and not allowing yourself to be overcome by fear [and thus reacting in that fear] anyone can commune with the animals.I have a photo of my Grandaughter hand feeding a chipmunk, and on her shoulder sat a hummingbird... she was 4 at the time. Priceless_!
_We cannot afford to loose... the Groundhog, or any other things of Nature.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

A convincing case is made for the hedgehog. I am almost persuaded except that squirrels rule.

troutbirder said...

Interesting post. I've enjoyed reading your blog, I think for the second time now. I will bookmark