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Monday, June 12, 2006

Zen and the art of sexing hedgehogs
Google has Failed me (or have I failed google).

update: I failed google see below

Second update:

Welcome Froomkinites. I see that Michael Froomkin's traffic is up, since the spike due to this Froomkin link is as big as a typical spike due to a Brad DeLong link (80 hits and counting).

This post was a long explanation of the brief post by my 8 year old daughter Kathy which can be read before this post, after this post or right here

"era un po difficile vedere la pancia di un porcospino, ma grazie a una trovata di mio padre ci siamo riucsiti (abbiamo messo il porcospino su una sedia di plastica e cosi)."

In English with appropriate capitalisation and a corresponding typo

"it was a little difficult to see the belly of a hedgehog, but thanks to an idea of my father we suceceded (we put the hedgehog on a [transparent] plastic chair and so ...)."

Not long and "riucsiti" is a typo for "riusciti" but pretty good for an 8 year old no ?

here is Kathy's web page

Here is proof that we saw the belly of a hedgehog.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I know the photographs are low quality but we have a minor hedgehog related problem. Today we took hedgy to see our new home where he will be welcome in the garden. We took him back to this house in the trunk of a ford Fiesta. It turns out that late model Ford Fiestas have a very strange nook (or perhaps cranny) in their trunk which hedgy found attractive. I can reach into the nook and twist my arm around and stab my fingers on his quills, but we will have to wait until he chooses to forage for food in the trunk of the car for furhter photo opportunities.

OK back to the original post

How can I go on living without faith in google ?

update 3: note I failed google. My little sister found a cyber hedgehog penis in 5 minutes.

The post below was written by my daughter Kathy, age 8. Yesterday I found a hedgehog who my niece named hedgy. Marina (age 16) pointed out that it was possible that hedgy was a mother and so we should release him or her where I found him or her. This caused great distress, because I found hedgy near a busy road where I have seen him or her twice (unsquashed) and where I would expect to find him or her flattened in the near future. We (that is Kathy and I) want to keep hedgy and release him or her at our new house where there is less traffic (at least that is our excuse).

Thus it became extremely important to learn if hedgy might be a mom.

I hoped to rule out the possibility by googling hedgehog mating habits. I learned on one page that they mate in May or June and have a gestation of 40 days, which would tend to mean that the hedgehog in question (from now on hedgy) might be pregnant but would have to be extraordinarily together to have given birth.

However another page reported that hedgehogs mate in April then again in August. I am reasonably confident that with more googling I could have found claims about hot hedgehog action in the remaining 8 months.

Hedgy had a very strong musky scent yesterday. Hoping that this was a male pheromone (and not an effort to convince me that he or she had been dead for a month) I googled hedgehog AND pheremone. Google was alert enough to correct my spelling of pheromone.

Unfortunately there is a drosophila homeotic gene called hedgehog. That's homeotic not homoerotic. A homeotic gene is a gene mutations of which cause developmental abnormalities in which a part of the organism developes into an inappropriate organ. A classic example is antennapedia in which the poor fly grows legs on its head instead of antenae. The patient reader will soon learn why I wrote "homoerotic", "inappropriate organ" and "google has failed me".

There is also a pop culture figure called sonic hedgehog, which I am too old to recognise and, of course, a drosophila homeotic gene called sonic hedgehog. I'm used to not getting current youth culture references, but to be so out of touch that I haven't heard of something old enough to have a drosophila homeotic gene named after it is a bit of a shock.

Anyway male hedgehogs do make a pheremone. Hedgy's smell might imply that he couldn't be a mother. On the other hand maybe the pheromone is scentless to humansand hedgy was just filthy or playing possum.

The gender question was getting urgent as a hungry baby hedgehog so I googled hedgehog AND sexing which
lead me to this page (seriously)

If the hedgehog is tame and friendly, gently roll it over and look at the area closest to the tail. A female's genitals are immediately next to the anus, while the male's penis sheath, or "belly button" is farther up the tummy. The distance between the anus and belly button will be approximately 1/2 inch on a six week old male hoglet. However, this distance can increase to as much as an inch or more once it fully matures.

Ah yes, just take a look at the hedgehogs abdomen and see if it has a penis which looks like a belly button. Great. This is an animal whose survival strategy consists almost entirely of hiding its abdomen. Pick one up and it will look like a pin cushion with a belly button. Extensive effort made it clear that hedgy had a nose, 2 eyes and at least 3 legs.

Finally, as Kathy said so I can't be modest, I thought of putting hedgy on a pane of glass (Elisabetta figured out the bit about the stylish clear plastic chair).

I discover that sexing a hedgehog is very like romancing a stone. Once frightened into a ball a hedgehog must be left along for a very long time before he or she opens up.

Still Kathy, unlike her father, does not have the attention span of a drosophila and kept watch.

Thus I finally saw what may very well be the penis of a hedgehog.

There are definitely two things down there, about one inch apart. However, what if one is a tail ?

Thus for totally serious reasons closely related to parenting (mine and hedgy's) I searched the web for photographs of hedgehog penises. It is actually possible that I am the first person to do so.

And now the shocking truth. Google images failed me, or I failed google image, even though I turned off safe search (ok ok I have never turned safe search on but my 8 year old was watching over my shoulder).

hedgehog penis yielded no images of actual hedgehogs.

hedgehog belly yielded no bellies

and Erinaceus europaeus yielded 733 images which we checked without finding a useful belly shot showing the naughty bits of a hedgehog of either gender.

I am shocked, crushed and devastated that google can not help me find a photograph of a hedgehog penis. What is the world coming to ?

update: it took my little sister 5 minutes to find this site searching for "hedgehog gender identification picture" with msn search (also works with google with the list of words no quotes)

arwen has left a new comment on your post "6/12/2006 11:47:00 PM":

permettimi di dire che le immagini non sono di bassa qualità , piuttosto un tantino inquietanti e poco rispettose della privacy di questo porcospino--poveretto.
Se io fossi un porcospino (e forse un po' lo sono) non mi piacerebbe mostrare le mie nudità al web intero.
Ogni tanto mettiamoci nei panni dei porcospini, o meglio negli aculei dei porcospini poveretti, e rispettiamoli, in un mondo fatto di porco-spini che non rispettano niente.
Lo so che, comunque, le immagini sono diffuse a scopo scientifico ed è utile conoscere il loro "genere" per garantirgli il massimo benessere.
Solo che, forse, il porcospino maschio (a quanto ho capito) si sarà vergognato un pochino"..." --e mi sembra giusto fermarsi a rifletterci un attimo (in un mondo fatto di porco-spini che non conoscono il concetto di riflessione)


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