The vegetarian hedgehog
‘I don’t want to eat snails,’ said Hywel Hog, ‘I’m a vegetarian!’
‘You must eat up,’ said Mrs Erinaceus (this is Latin for hedgehog), ‘before the winter comes.’
Hywel Hog moaned and groaned just like all children when they don’t want to eat their food.
‘Eat! Eat! Eat!’ he said, playing with a snail that was put in front of him. ‘But I don’t like snails!’
‘All hoglets eat snails,’ his mother replied. ‘Now eat up!’
‘I’m a vegetarian,’ said Hywel Hog and pushed the snail away.
Now Mrs Erinaceus knew that unless Hywel Hog ate his food, he wouldn’t survive until the spring. She was a very worried mother.
But the young hoglet would not eat his food and he got thinner and thinner. It was almost time to hibernate and Mrs. Erinaceus knew that her young son would die if he didn’t eat soon. She tried everything she could think of, worms, beetles and slugs, but nothing worked. Hywel Hog refused everything that contained meat.
‘I’m a vegetarian,’ he kept saying, over and over again. ‘I don’t want anything to have to die for me!’
Although Mrs Erinaceus thought that this was a very sweet thing for her son to say, it wasn’t helping matters. The days became colder and colder and Hywel Hog got thinner and thinner. Then one evening, a very strange thing happened.
They were wondering about in the garden of the home for waifs and strays, when the door of the house opened and someone came out. Young Hywel Hog and his mother watched from the shadows as the lady put down a dish of something that smelt delicious. They watched closely, as she went back into the house and closed the door.
‘You stay here,’ said Mrs Erinaceus, ‘while I see if it is safe.’ And she scurried across the yard to where the delicious smell was coming from. Her little heart raced and she prayed that the food would be suitable for Hywel Hog.
‘Come,’ she called softly to her son, ‘I think you will like it! It doesn’t smell like meat.’
Little Hywel Hog hurried over to his mother and sniffed at the food in front of him.
‘It’s delicious!’ he said excitedly and gobbled it all down. Mrs Erinaceus sighed a huge relief.
Every night they went to the yard and waited for the door to open and the food to be left. And every night until it was time to hibernate, the young hoglet gobbled it all up.They never once saw the lady smiling at them from the kitchen window.