Friday, July 28, 2006

"Little hog"

You know what? Basil's a lucky boy.

I don't just mean in that his injury could be a lot worse, and in us finding him on two separate occasions when he was in trouble.

I mean in the trouser department.

Of course I've had the occasional look down there to check everything's okay, and I've noticed what I thought was the penis. Have a look at the picture - these are African Pygmy hedgehogs but they are pretty much the same as their European counterparts.

Last night when Basil was looking particularly ill and floppy I was shocked to see something huge and pink and cylindrical under his belly - my first throught was that it was a prolapsed intestine until I realised how stupid that thought was.

But it turned out that what you can see on the picture was not the actual penis - the 3-inch long, 1/2-inch wide pink object that I saw was the penis.

To give you an idea of scale, Basil's body nose-to-tail is probably 7 or 8 inches. And a quick google tells me that 10% of an adult male hedgehog's weight is in his penis. That's pretty impressive if you ask me.

I'll leave you with this picture, which I found amusing. As I'm obviously in a penis mood.

Better news

Basil looks much better today. When I checked on him last night he'd moved over to the water to have a drink but looked like he didn't have the strength to go back to bed afterwards, but he was sleeping under the newspaper in the bottom of the cage this morning and pricked up when I tried to look at him (a good sign). And I think he's been in the food even if he hasn't eaten much.

I'll try to resume normal service soon and keep updating about Basil as well.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Poor Basil

Basil looks ill. It seems he's inhaled too much of the alcohol in the Frontline spray and it's causing him breathing difficulties. He was hardly breathing at all earlier this evening, felt cool and was both more curled up and more floppy than usual.

Derek on the hog forum says to keep him warm and comfortable, plenty of fresh air and fluids, and the effects will wear off in 24 hours. So I've got him next to me on a heat pad and there's a fan in the room to circulate the air. He does look a little better. I'll give him some water when he's a bit more responsive.

Poor guy. As if he didn't have enough to contend with.

Vet visit

Basil scratched at his face last night and removed the new scab. Guess it's itchy where it's healing. The plus side of this is that I realised that it isn't infected, it was just that where the cut had sealed itself it was a light colour.

He was much more lively last night in general, attacking the syringe when we were feeding him, and sniffing around, even trying to wander off. He hasn't shown much interest in his food though, I'm going to try some different things to tempt him. I'm hoping as he starts to feel better his appetite will return.

We went to see the vet this afternoon, mostly because the remaining ticks are proving very difficult to remove as he has so many underneath him and they are small - plus he won't let us near the ones on his face and ears. She sprayed him with Frontline to kill the ticks and had a look at his wound, which she says is healing up fine. Apparently it doesn't matter if he does scratch it a few times as long as I clean it each time and he doesn't make a habit of it - the new skin will still grow underneath. There's no infection so he doesn't need antibiotics.

All in all it's looking quite good.

I continue to be pleased with the vet's surgery (Vets4Pets in Chesterfield) as the vet there acknowleges that she doesn't know everything about hedgehogs, asks for my opinion and discusses treatments with me. She's also very gentle with the hogs and they only charge for the medication and not for their time (cost me £6.50 for the Frontline). Also the vet nurse has rehabilitated hogs herself so she's pretty knowlegable. I'd certainly recommend them.

Summer found a little hog in the garden last night, and after what's happened to Basil (and after being pawed and barked at by a big dog) I brought it in and checked it out. She looks fine, a few ticks but nothing a healthy hog can't handle, very bright and alert and soooooo cute!! She's been named Jasmine, marked and released. I hope she'll stay around.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yet more Basil

Basil's still very quiet. The wound is scabbing properly towards the top but I'm not so happy about how it looks in the middle. Think we'll have a visit to the vet tomorrow in case it's getting infected. Poor little prickler.

And we're going to have a serious tick removal session later too. Not an easy job, and he won't like it at all. Bastard things.

He had a little nibble of his dry food last night, but not very much, and I can't tell how much he's had to drink so we'll try to get more food and water into him tonight.

I know I'm not being very entertaining here at the moment with all this hog talk, but you know what? I don't care. Basil's important to me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More Basil news

Basil's head look a little better today, it's definitely scabbing now. He's looking quite sleepy, I guess he needs to rest a lot to recover and he could well be still in shock. He seems to spend a lot of time lying down flat on his belly with his chin on the floor, probably that's the most comfortable position for him.

We've just given him a little food which I've made up - basically a think liquidised soup made with minced chicken, barley, oats, cat biscuits and peanut butter with honey, garlic (helps digestion and immune system), ginger and cinnamon (to stimulate appetite) and some child vitamins, which he seems to quite like - he licked it off his lips and didn't fight the syringe at all. I'm hoping it'll help him get his appetite back. It may be of course that eating hard cat biscuits is hurting him so I'll provide him with something softer tonight too. He's definitely been drinking on his own at least.

I'll add a picute later.

So far 60-70-ish ticks have come off, but there are still hundreds more. I'm going to oil him again later.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Basil update, aka I also hate ticks

Another warning for the squeamish - this picture's not so horrible as the last one, but still not nice.

I've just checked on Basil and covered him in oil which he wasn't very impressed with. The wound is scabbing over but it still looks horrible and sore. Compare with the picture in my previous post.

I've managed to see exactly how many ticks there are on him - literally hundreds. I'm not joking. Most of them are tiny but they are everywhere, including two right next to his eyes and lots in his ears and even a couple on his penis. I can't imagine how he's picked up so many in just a few days. I guess a week or so with those guys on him would have killed him even if he didn't have flystrike - a couple of ticks doesn't harm a healthy hog but that many.... he wouldn't have any blood left!

Ticks are now at number 3 in my invertebrate hate list. And you know me, I don't like to kill anything, but I'd happily kill any number of flies and ticks at the moment.

Fucking bastard insects. How dare they do that to my Basil?? The cute little guy I nursed for so long - the weeks of hand feeding and giving him antibiotics, the neem baths, the tea tree oil cream on his nose every night for months, his lovely furry little skirt and his pretty eyes and his snuffly nose. Even the way he used to bite me while I was feeding him (and bit me last night as I was taking him to his cage).

No fucking respect.

I hate flies

Warning - don't click the picture if you're squeamish.

Only a few night after finally going free, Basil (one of my rescued hedgehogs) turned up again last night.

He's got a huge graze on his head which looks very sore and he's covered in small ticks, maybe a hundred of them. I don't kow how he got injured, but judging by the state of the wound I'd guess it was early yesterday morning.

The most horrible thing is that he also had a load of fly eggs in the wound. Another few days and the maggots would have been literally eating him alive. The first hog I picked up had a very bad infection and maggots crawling in its ears, a sight that I'll never forget. What a horrible way to die.

So I spent over an hour removing all the eggs, which is a very ticklish job - trying to get every single tiny egg out of a very sore place on an animal full of prickles which curls up when it's scared or in pain. It's just lucky that Basil's used to us and only curled up a bit when I hurt him, poor guy. If it had been a wild hog, with a wound on the head, it would have been practically impossible. I used a combination of an old toothbrush, a pair of tweezers and cotton wool soaked in salt water. He was so good about it, even though I was obviously hurting him.

I've left the ticks for now, I didn't want to stress him any more, and there are so many that I'm just going to cover him in vegetable oil tonight to suffocate them rather than trying to remove them all manually. I'll add lavender, rosemary and tea tree oils too for their antiseptic and insect repellant properties, and to soothe the wound. The lavender will help with the pain and stress too. I like to use natural/herbal medicines wherever possible.

He's in the spare room now, in a cage with a heat pad (which he isn't using), and I've draped sheet over the cage so flies can't get in. I checked on him a little while ago and he's sleeping and the wound's starting to scab over now, thank goodness. I'm obviously going to keep a very close eye on him and if he gets an infection he's going straight to the vet. He didn't eat last night so I'll give him a few days and hand feed him again if necessary.

I've now come to the conclusion that he's too tame to live in the wild once he's better. He made no attempt to curl up when Summer found him (which could possibly be because it hurt him to do so) and he wouldn't be safe out there. He's had to be handled too much with being ill and hand feeding and ringworm treatment and everything, he's used to humans now and not so scared of dogs.

Oh and thanks to Boo for talking to me last night after I'd cleaned him up, sorry I didn't realise you'd gone to bed until later on, I didn't mean to keep you up! Brain not in gear.

I can't describe how much I hate flies. The ticks are bad enough, but at least they don't kill the hog. I have to make an effort not to think about maggots - I've had dreams about having maggots under my skin - there can be few more horrible things than being eaten by maggots while you're still alive. I know some of you hate slugs, and quite a few hate spiders (enough to kill them on sight in some cases) and I can't stand wasps (ugly, evil, pointless things), but flies are so much worse. Yeuch doesn't even begin to cover it. The idea actually makes me feel physically sick.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Snail orgy

My landing now resembles a snail brothel.

I came upstairs earlier to find not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR snails engaged in group sex.

And we're now up to four lots of eggs, presumably more are on their way, and I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I don't want to kill the eggs, it feels very mean, but if they all hatch we'll be overrun with baby snails soon and I don't know how many I'll be able to flog to the local pet shops. There are already at least 4 tiny baby snails in the nursery tank.

Anyone want any snails?? Seriously?

On a related note, my Site Meter tells me that someone came to my blog by searching Google for "sexy snails". Er.... right. Because that's a perfectly normal search.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Love is...

Michael can be very sweet at times, bless him.

We were in Padley Gorge this morning - for those of you who haven't been there, it's a wooded gorge with a stream at the bottom, huge gritstone boulders everywhere, dippers and pied flycatchers - we took the dog for a walk and tried to find me a dipper. I got one, yay, but I digress.

Being a wood in summer, there were wood ants everywhere, thousands, millions of them. I foolishly hadn't thought about it and wore my sandals. And as I was navigating a tricky little stream and feeling a little less than secure in my footing, I felt a sharp pain in my foot and looked down to see the jaws of an ant embedded in my flesh. It felt like a needle. A big sharp needle.

Michael had to seriously swipe at it to get it to let go. Maybe it was karma, I'd probably squashed loads of them as I was walking. But it hurt and I didn't like it.

And Michael (who had been sensible and worn trainers and socks) gave me his socks to wear so the ants didn't get me again.

He didn't even laugh at how stupid I looked wearing socks with my sandals, and still managed to keep a straight face when I tucked my jeans into the socks to stop the nippy little buggers from getting inside them.

He's a star.

Please note, my legs aren't really that fat, I'm just wearing very baggy jeans. Honest.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New and exciting and fun... well new anyway

I'm pleased to announce the unveiling of a new project - currently called The Bird Photography Project, but the name will be updated as soon as we think of a better one.

Basically Michael and I are aiming to identify and photograph as many British birds as we can. He's in charge of the photography, and I'm be in charge of the identifcation, since I don't know an f-stop from an optical zoom, and he doesn't know a moorhen from a magpie.

You'll find it here, if you want to take a look at our first 13 photographs.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Fun with words

You know how it is when you're taking a long car journey with your other half. It's hard to find something to pass the time which both of you agree to.

Sunday we were coming home from Minsmere (was a great weekend by the way, 14 lifers) and we were at a loss for something to do for 4 hours. Neither of us could read, because it makes me carsick and I was having to navigate anyway, and him because he was driving. We both hate the adverts on the radio as well as half the songs, and we'd already listened to the two CDs we both like (he's a fan of ELO and I'd rather eat my own liver, and he feels pretty much the same about A Perfect Circle). An audio book would have done the job but we don't have any, and didn't think to download one. Oh well.

But we did find a solution - we created a word game. You've probably played similar things - basically we made up clues for the names of birds, for example "female relative that is not empty" = fulmar (geddit? full ma?). Similarly "curried female relative" = cormorant (korma aunt). The other person had to guess the bird. This kept us busy for hours, a great game which could easily be modified for place names, films, whatever.

Comedy moment was when I gave Michael the clue "someone in a sexual relationship with urine" (I was referring of course to a plover) and he guessed I meant pee-shagger. WTF? Actually that would make a great bird name!

See if you can get any of these. Some are easy, some very ahrd.

1) A bird you could use as a fuel when it's raining a lot.
2) To follow someone obsessively.
3) Small orange.
4) Bond film.
5) Magician.
6) Pasttime.
7) Pear wine the same colour as grass.
8) Almost a very poor person, a gift, or quite nice.
9) Noise a dog might make.
10) A hard penis.
11) Conversation with rock.
12) Cat stops sleeping.
13) Rotation of a lunch-time snack.
14) Shaving implement which must be paid.
15) Fast. (An very easy one there!)
16) Eats bees. (I was trying to give him a chance, okay??)
17) Part of a large house which got too close to a candle.
18) Taking something which doesn't belong to you.
19) More grainy.
20) Fantastic breast.
21) Gone completely mad.
22) Not a real FBI agent. (I couldn't get this one. Even with the next clue.) Quiet ovine.
23) Hay cut into lengths of 2.54cm.
24) Half of the act of something discovered by accident.
25) Annoyed William.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Snail sex

The other day, I noticed that two of my giant African land snails (GALS) were mating.

This surprised me as I thought that there was only one big enough, but apparently I was wrong.

It's a little known fact that all snails are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female sexual organs (but it still takes two of them to make baby snailies). It made me think about whether the world would be a better place if we were all hermaphrodites. And here's my argument for it.

1) No homophobia, as hetro- and homosexuality would cease to exist.

2) No problems of gay couples having to adopt or lesbians getting a sperm donor from somewhere, and the inherent problems. So you could have your own biological children with the person you love.

3) You'd never meet the person of your dreams who was perfect for you, but by a cruel twist of fate was not of your preferred gender.

4) Both of you would share the burden of childbirth.

5) If there were no men, there would be no porn industry. Not that I have anything against porn in general, but there's a fair amount of expoitation going on there, especially animal and child porn (which I do have a problem with).

6) There would be less violence. Men tend to be violent because of an evolutionary pressure - they needed to fight off other males for access to the limited resource of females (who spend a lot of time pregnant or breastfeeding and therefore unavailable as mates, while males are always available). If everyone could impregnate everyone else, there would be plenty of mates for all. I guess it follows from there that if there were no males, we probably wouldn't have war.

7) If one of a pair happened to be unable to produce fertile eggs, they could potentially still have babies "the other way round", by impregnating their partner. So there would be fewer couples who desperately wanted a child but couldn't.

8) Everyone would have breasts.

9) The toilet seat could always be left up.

10) Your husband would understand your PMT, because he'd have it too. Ha.

11) You wouldn't have to queue for ages for the ladies' loo in nightclubs, while the men's are all but empty.

12) No sexual discrimination.

Anyone think of any others?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

That reminds me...

Rosey put in an appearance Saturday night. Summer found her at midnight and barked - I knew she'd found a hog by the way she was barking, so I went over to see it.

I thought straight away it could be Rosey because it was the right size, and then I noticed it hadn't completely curled up despite having a big dog woofing at it. When I picked it up to look more closely it quickly relaxed - not at all normal for a wild hog, but of course Rosey's used to being handled now and must recognise my smell.

By the time I'd got her inside she'd relaxed enough for me to confirm that she was indeed female, and had a back leg completely missing, so it's definitely not a case of mistaken identity! She was covered in cow manure and very stinky so I had to give her a bath, filthy creature.

I very carefully checked her to see if she was okay and she's fine, she's even put some weight on and looks very healthy. I guess it shows she's perfectly capable of finding her own food, but with her being disabled it's not fair to let her go even though she can move pretty fast when she wants to.

She's spent two nights inside while we reinforced the pen she escaped from, and she moved back outside last night. And now she's starring in Roseycam as before (if you have Yahoo Messenger you can see the cam by adding scarlett_silverleaf to your contacts list - I'm generally on from 9pm-ish GMT).

It's kind of weird having her back - of course I'm very relieved and glad she's none the worse for her little excursion!

Here she is spending a little quality time with Basil (in the background) while her home was being refurbished last night.

On being misinterpreted

Ever have one of those moments where you're doing something perfectly innocently then suddenly realise how dodgy it looks to everyone else?

It happened to me on Friday night.

I'd been at the roleplaying club and we'd congregated in the car park afterwards as usual for our post-game chat where recent topics have included zombies and whether they could really exist and how their nervous system would work (I maintain that if the flesh is dead, so it the nervous system therefore they wouldn't be animate, but I digress), chocolate, the best kid's TV shows, Star Wars/Trek and Serenity.

Several different conversations were going on at once. Jon, knowing I'm involved with hedgehog rehabilitation, asked me how hedgehogs have sex so I explained that the female of course has to be 100% willing(!) and she lies on her tummy with her back curved to allow him access without danger of pricking his, er, prick.

This then lead me to demonstrate how the male persuades the female (I've seen this on Nic's X-rated hog cam so I'm now an expert). I stood to one side of him and gently pushed him with my head. "Have sex with me!" I went round the other side. "Go on, please, have sex with me!" I pushed him again. "Come on..."

And them I became aware that the other conversations had stopped and everyone was staring at me. Including my boyfriend. Having caught only the last part of the conversation.