Baxter Black: The hedgehog tale
July 23, 2011
It came as a surprise to me that there is a brisk hedgehog business in the country. It shouldn't have. Earlier entrepreneurial promoters had done well with Chia Pets, pet rocks, longhorn cattle, ostriches and Humvees.
Hedgehogs (HH) are about the size of an orange with a pointy nose and spiny back. They bring to mind a cross between a pocket-porcupine and a scorpion fish.
My good-hearted and animal-loving friend Kimmy was made aware of HH mania when a lady-whose-house-she-had-been-cleaning's HH sow (or maybe it's how or hilt) pigged (or higged or harrowed or even hambed). The nasty HH mom attacked her newborn higlets. They were the size of a walnut and covered with prickly, but still soft, spines.
Kimmy rescued the two little varmints and decided to take them home till the homeowner returned. It was cold and snowy outside so she filled a Ziploc baggie with warm water, placed them in her pocket and braved the storm.
On her way home she visited with her veterinarian, who was not a member of the American Association of HH Practitioners, but prescribed powdered dog milk, which I, being a large animal vet, had never heard of.
But it did put me to wondering how one would milk a dog. Have a rhesus monkey do it for Pekingese donor milk if the higlet wanted Chinese take-out? Roll Fido on her back and use a straw? Train an anteater to suckle and regurgitate like a pelican?
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A stalwart Kimmy went home and began feeding the Fido milk every two hours using an eyedropper. Her understanding family pitched in, and they made it through the first night. As time passed the higlets seemed to fill up like balloons full of water. Then Kimmy noticed the absence of higlet excreta — hig pies, hig torpedoes or simply hoop.
Kimmy called an authority, her neighbor, who had an aquarium. Her neighbor compared the higlets to little kittens and described how the mother cat was constantly licking her babies to stimulate evacuation. Kimmy hung up. After a brief scare of the thought of herself performing the act, she began rubbing their pudgy bellies with a Q-tip. The higlets responded.