Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Alameda, Ampthill

They say that there's more than one way to skin a cat, and I guess that the same goes for our Hedgehogs, too! Over the last few days I've found 3 separate Hedgehog skins on the grass along The Alameda, two of them within a few metres of one another.

I grew up reading stories of gypsies coating Hedgehogs in clay and then placing them in the hot embers of a fire to bake them, the spines becoming detatched by the process. But this is the work of a Badger or Fox. My money's on Badger. Even though there's not a known sett closeby, they do wander around the local area. It's said that, if you don't find many Hedgehogs around in a suitable rural or suburban area, then one of the reasons may be the presence of Badgers foraging locally, and I think that there's a lot of truth in that, though Hedgehogs also have to contend with the dangers of getting squashed by traffic, strangled or suffocated by rubbish, drowned in steep-sided ponds, sliced up by strimmers, burned by bonfires, or else poisoned by snails & slugs (which have themselves been poisoned by slug pellets). All in all, it's not an easy life for a Hedgehog!

Back in 1981, here in the UK, Hedgehog Foods Ltd marketed Hedgehog-flavoured crisps! The flavouring used was actually pork fat, and Hedgehog Foods landed up in trouble with the Office of Fair Trading the following year. What happened next? As one website relates it, 'Bizarrely, a settlement was finally reached when Mr Lewis, of Hedgehog Foods, interviewed gypsies who actually did eat baked hedgehogs, to ascertain the flavour of hedgehogs. Mr Lewis then commissioned a flavourings firm to duplicate the flavour as closely as possible and changed the labels from "hedgehog flavoured" to "hedgehog flavour" and all interests were satisfied!'

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