Monday, 10 June 2013

Cameron's Hedgehog Party

Austria, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, was always destined to carry some dodgy traffic once Schengen kicked in. Most passes through on the superb A roads, through tunnels or over high Alpine passes without incident, but just occasionally a truck comes to grief revealing an illegal cargo. So it was last week, when a vehicle carrying some 2,000 small animals overturned. Most of the cargo obediently permitted themselves to be recaptured by the Animal Welfare (well, this was Austria). The owner optimistically sent a replacement vehicle. The Authorities of course declined; the cargo would be detained whilst procedural irregularities were investigated. At the owners' expense. The irony in all this is that some 80% of the cargo was live-food for pet snakes and the like - small rodents, which the owners were now having to pay to be fed and cared for. The other 20% of the cargo was the exotic pets themselves; snakes, Armadillos and, um, Egyptian Hedgehogs. 


Hedgehogs? Since when did hedgehogs become pets? What was the attraction? I sought out an online guide to hedgehog-keeping. It consisted of page after page of advice aimed at preventing the creatures from killing or seriously injuring themselves. First, they need lots of room. "Without room, a hedgehog will show signs of depression, such as excessive sleeping, refusal to eat, repetitious behaviour, and self-mutilation. Due to their small size obesity is a very dangerous problem and hedgehogs require a fair amount of exercise to avoid liver problems due to excess weight." Uh OK a big wire cage then "Cages with wired floors are dangerous for hedgehogs because they can easily slip and get a limb caught in the wire. Multi-level ferret or rabbit cages can allow a hedgehog more room to explore without taking up extra floorspace, but when using multiple levels, keep in mind that a hedgehog has poor eyesight, can climb easily, but has difficulty descending and often does not seem to understand heights" Hmm a big cage with a safety rubber floor, then. "A wheel is necessary to provide hedgehogs with exercise. When choosing a wheel, it must have a solid floor. If an open-wire wheel is used, the hedgehog will continually fall between the bars and possibly break a leg. Wheels with crossbars can also cause facial injuries as hedgehogs have been known to look sideways out of the wheel while running." The list goes on. They are liable to amputate their own limbs with their bedding, their genitalia may get blocked with cage-dust, they are (unsurprisingly) prone to many diseases, including Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome and commonly react to stress with vomiting and green faeces.

And then the simile struck me. Hedgehogs are the Tory Party of the pet world - intent on self-destruction, blind, incapable, liable to unintentional self-injury and deliberate self-mutilation. When threatened all they can do is roll up in a prickly ball. Suddenly gay weddings, bloody windmills, state snooping, Europhilia and all the other rubbish came into perspective; it was all Hedgehog behaviour. The party has grown into an endangered creature incapable of flourishing, subject to Wobbly Tory Syndrome and liable to react to stress with vomiting and green faeces.    

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

At first I thought you had lost your marbles old chap! Then I got to the last para and it all made sense. A brilliant piece of writing!

Coney Island

right_writes said...

...And I thought that you were going to write about an ancient Etonian pastime Raedwald...

The sad fact is that attempting to satisfy the "floating voter" aka, the "centre ground" is precisely what the Liberal Party was doing at the beginning of the twentieth century, until it was usurped by the then radical Labour party.

Liberalism was always about government with a light touch, and conservatism was about preserving the ancient customs of the ruling class.

Both have turned into "social democrat parties": and nobody regards them as having any relevance in modern life, apart from acting as an alternative to the "establishment" party... aka Labour.

As the blogger "David Craig" titles his narrative...

"Snouts in the trough" is perhaps the most relevant animal equivalent for our glorious leaders... HedgePigs notwithstanding.

meltemian said...

"The list goes on. They are liable to amputate their own limbs with their bedding, their genitalia may get blocked with cage-dust, they are (unsurprisingly) prone to many diseases, including Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome and commonly react to stress with vomiting and green faeces."

Crikey!! Too much information!
The thought of all that "hitting the fan" ??

Talking of pigs and troughs - glad to see Yeo's finally going to have to answer some questions.

James Higham said...

Hedgehogs? Never thought of them as pets but it would be a talking point at dinner.

Edward Spalton said...

I remember a very rude (American) naval song which included
"... From anthropoid ape down to man'
The palm is awarded the navy for buggering whatever it can.

Further experimentation has incontrovertibly shown
That comparative safety on shipboard,
Is enjoyed by the hedgehog alone"

Dave said...

Hedgehogs? Never thought of them as pets but it would be a nice dinner for talking about.

Thud said...

I caught one on the lawn this morning, after reading that list I'm amazed it didn't self immolate or explode.