Lord Nelson Doesn’t Like the Savanna

Actually I don’t know whether that is true. He has never been to the savanna. Horatio, Lord Nelson, is the full name of my hedgehog. He is an African pygmy hedgehog. Which means that his ancestors came from Africa and his breed is smaller than the ones found back home by the British explorers who first saw them. I think that he is extremely cute and was pretty excited to see a relative on the front cover of the most recent issue of National Geographic. Until I discovered he was the poster boy for the questionable practice of trying to make pets of wild animals.

I don’t think Horatio knows he’s supposed to be wild. When we let him out of his cage, he likes to roam around sniffing everything. But he has never made a break for the door or shown any signs of wanting to leap for our throats and have a meal. Although that may be more of function of him weighing about a pound and a half. Besides, he is an insectivore and last time I checked, we are not insects. Do not call him a rodent. He is extremely sensitive to the reputation rodents have, and he does not wish to be confused with one.

We have a paper giving his parents’ names. Given that hedgehogs only live 2 – 4 years, his family’s been in the country for generations. More generations than mine has.

He has never seemed particularly interested in the occasional bug we have flying around. Apparently he is content with his kitty kibble. (Although he did seem somewhat interested in a chocolate chip I dropped by him. He’s definitely my hog.)

Which brings me to the animals that are actually discussed in the article. One of them is a capybara. For those of you not into rodentia, a capybara is the largest member of the rodent family (at least I hope so). They are larger than housecats and look like a large guinea pig with slicked back hair. They are actually rather cute. But I can see having nightmares about the cute little critter in the habitrail (do they still make those?) taking steroids and coming after me.

I can’t imagine having one of those big cats they show either. This morning, one of our cats was rubbing against the bathroom door while I was getting ready for my shower. I thought she wanted to go downstairs, so I opened the door to let her go. Instead, she came into the bathroom and laid down wanting me to rub her tummy. (By the way, the experts say cats hate having their tummies rubbed – I haven’t had the heart to tell our cats.)

Anyway, if a tiger wanted to be petted, I’m guessing he would have come through the door and made his wishes known. It’s cute when a 10-lb. cat wraps her paws around your hand. I would feel like lunch if a 400-lb cat did it. I’m thinking that play time would probably involve more than waving a feather on a stick. Unless the feather was attached to a chicken.

Bears are another exotic option. I think baby bears are adorable. And the parents are beautiful with their 4″ teeth and 10″ nails. When I was little, my parents got me a teddy bear every Christmas. They always came with a music box that quit working before the year was out. I ended up with a family of silent bears.  The best kind when you sleep with them.

Sleeping with a baby grizzly sounds kind of attractive on some of the cold nights we’ve been getting. They’re probably nice and warm. And they look so cuddly. They seem like the type of animal that might snore. And eat me if I took up too much of the bed.

There were some exotic birds in the article. I really dislike birds. They are beautiful. And some of them are pretty amazing in the way they migrate thousands of miles. Others have cool ways of building nests or feeding their young. But they all have beaks. I do not want a pet that can peck at me. Or whatever the equivalent is for a toucan. Thinking about it, I’m not sure how a toucan would bite.

Which brings me to snakes. I’m not a huge fan of reptiles. I’m OK with the ones with legs. We had a mountain lizard for several years, and Rex was definitely part of the family. I put him in the same classification with the hedgehog. Not particularly cuddly, but a definite personality.

On the other hand, I don’t have any rapport with snakes at all. I’m not afraid of them, I’m just not interested in having one running (slithering?) around the house. I don’t like having things watching me, and they seem to spend a lot of time curled up not doing much of anything else. I refuse to go to the pet store to get live things for it to eat. And the only ones that cuddle are the ones that squeeze too tight if you don’t give them enough other things to play with.

It all reminded me of an article I read several years ago about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The person being interviewed said that it was cruel to keep dogs and cats as pets. They were intended to roam free.

We had two (different) cats at the time, Rascal and Critter. Beauty and brains. Rascal probably wouldn’t have lasted more than a couple of days before being eaten by who knows what out there (we have raccoons, coyotes, skunks, hawks, etc.). She was a very sweet cat, but a total princess. Critter would have sat at the door crying to be let back in. She knew she had a good thing.

I think I’ll keep things the way they are. Our cats have us trained, but at least I’m not worried about them eating me if they want a midnight snack.

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