My neighbour sometimes brings surprises from his garden – dates, figs, onions or rocket. Last night as we were in the middle of dinner he appeared and put on the floor what I at first thought was some sort of spikey fruit. Then I realised it was animal not vegie – a hedgehog.
I had always thought of hedgehogs as an English creature, probably from childhood stories they featured in, but they are found in other countries including North Africa where Siwa sits.
We took it into the kitchen to take its picture in better light, and A knew how to uncurl it so we could see its little face and feet. It was probably terrified to find itself surrounded by two loud men and a woman with a flashing camera.
Apparently hedgehogs were eaten in Ancient Egypt and are still favoured in the Middle East, especially among Bedouins. Hedgehog meat is believed to cure rheumatism aand arthritis. I did not ask where this one would end up.
This is the only live hedgehog I have ever seen, they are not native to Australia. T. has recently become a fan of of National Geographic programs and especially those about Australia, which he knew little about before meeting me, so the hedgehog provides my chance to introduce him to another Australian wonder, the echidna, which has some similar features but is in other ways so different.