To the uninitiated, the British hedgehog seems like an interesting sort of creature. Its body covered in spines, its pointed nose sniffing around for something to eat, its beady eyes searching around in the darkness, are enough to give the unwary traveller a shock when he or she encounters it - a shock they might never forget.
In truth, however, the hedgehog is about as uninteresting as animals get. Rarely seen, it goes about its hedgehog business in a hedgehog-like manner, not being a bother to anyone, aside from motorists, who often have the misfortune to have to scrape the messy remnants of a hedgehog off one of their tyres.
A cross between a rat and a sweeping brush, the hedgehog is brave but stupid, ill-advisedly rolling into a ball when faced with destruction, rather than simply moving out of the way.
An unfamiliarity with the Highway Code, and its rules regarding 'right of way' exacerbates this foolishness.
Enigmatic characters, Charles Darwin once said of hedgehogs:
"They are an enigma - full of spines, but spineless; hundreds of 'points', but pointless; I despair for the hog from the hedge."
But, of course, Darwin missed the real irony, for the hedgehog doesn't live in hedges, nor is it a hog, but by fuck, it truly is an uninteresting specimen!
Despite their small size - typically, hedgehogs are smaller than dogs - they eat food as if their lives depended on it. Leaves, berries, seeds, nuts, and dog eggs are all gobbled up hungrily.
They are not particularly clean animals, being uninterested in washing themselves. Flea-ridden is a term often attached derogatarily to hedgehogs, as research has shown that fleas love riding hedgehogs.
Prickly characters, hedgehogs have been known to attack humans, but turning and walking away is more than enough to repel them, whilst jumping on them produces a popping sound and a street full of guts.
Next week, we take a look into the kingdom of the birds, and tell you some token shite about the kestrel.