Monday, January 28, 2013

Hedgehog News

I am fairly sure he’s enjoying this as much as he seems to be. Crispulito doesn’t get blow-dried, in fact, because by the time we’ve finished with the bath we are both in the mood for a little of that absence which makes the heart grow fonder. Water is not his thing. He is from the desert, after all. And he only gets washed in the summer, so we let him run around outside for a while and he dries naturally.

A few years ago one of the hamsters, in the course of an exploratory trip around the kitchen, fell into a pan of oil. I showered her carefully with hypoallergenic shampoo (that isn’t advice, by the way, it’s just what occurred to me at the time- see the old joke about the man whose cow fell down a hole) and blow-dried her at some length. She thought this was terrific fun, and was most put out when we finished. She stretched and preened in the warm air like a supermodel on a beach pretending she hasn’t noticed the cameraman.

In further news, it might interest readers to know about the sonic hedgehog homolog. There is, in the human genome, a bit that is known as the hedgehog protein, because the absence of it in Drosophila causes them to be shrivelled and prickly. There are a number of variant homologs in man, known as the desert hedgehog, Indian hedgehog and sonic hedgehog homologs (DHH, IHH and SHH). They seem to have some role in the transmission and processing of signals by the nervous system. We erinacidae turn up in very unexpected places.


Sackerson said...

I can't remember if we ever washed ours, in Cyprus. But one time he developed a gammy leg and we took him too the Army vet, who hadn't a clue. So my little brother wrote to Gerald Durrell, who had the goodness to reply sympathetically and (I think) say it'd probably sort itslef out. It did. Funny how the most important people are the most likely to spare you some time.

The Hickory Wind said...

When I want specific advice or information about some of the subjects I try to learn about, I often just email the expert at a top university, or the name who is mentioned most in the technical papers. Very often they answer, and are helpful.
Crispu smells a bit in the summer when it's hotter, he eats more insects, and rubs up against more plants and trees. That's why we wash him occasionally then.

Sackerson said...

No fleas?

When I was abour 10 I was doing a school project on the Solar system and naively wrote to Sir Bernard Lovell at Jodrell bank to ask for pictures of the planets. He wrote back to say that they were busy looking at things in deep space just now and included a photograph of the radio telescope. A gentleman.

The Hickory Wind said...

Fleas have never been a problem. The rabbit gets a lot if ticks in the summer when runs about the garden, but for some reason Crispu doesn't. I suppose they can't cling on to the spines, and on the belly he can just scratch them off.

James Higham said...

Hedgehog protein, eh? Most educational.

The Hickory Wind said...

The sideways mental leaps of scientists are often fascinating. The Latin binomials of a lot of species contain surprising information about how their discoverers saw them.