Stickly-pig is good eating, I’m told. Which is maybe why the hedge-hog is covered in spikes and rolls itself into a ball, to discourage this. Porcupines take this a fair bit further, and will shove their spiny tail into you hard. Echidnas will roll up, or dig in really fast so only the spines are available… and if you pick them up they’ll pee on you, which apparently is full of formic acid and rather nasty.
They’re all quiet, solitary creatures, who if they had a common motto, it would be ‘Just leave me alone.’
Echidnas, of course, being Australian are just plain weird. Echidna sex makes Chuck Tingle look prudish. Look it up if you’re curious, don’t read about it if you don’t want to. It is what it is, whether you read about it or not. Echidnas don’t care what you think of it.
It’s one of the things about writing sf as a biologist: nature already thought of weirder things than most people can make up. And when it comes to reproduction, doubly so (or almost any multiple you can think of). My favorite example is a marine annelid, whose entire body cavity becomes effectively one giant male or female gonad, and simply continues to fill, with no way of discharge. Then, on one full moon night when the tide is right and romance is in the air… or rather water, these swollen creatures all emerge together from their hidey holes by the millions, in one massive speed-dating event, swim into the water-column together, wriggle violently… and burst. Going out with a bang, as it were. Whatever floats your boat, I say. But don’t expect me to be shocked or surprised by mere human reproductive-behavior trivia. So long as you’re happy and leave me alone.
It’s the ‘leave me alone’ part that of course some people have trouble with, especially when it comes to writing. I’m always a little taken aback by the whole ‘censorship’ and ‘de-platforming’ thing. There is no-one forcing the offended to read that. And if you think that because you find it offensive or unpleasant, that your innate self-proclaimed superiority entitles you not just leave others alone… besides the fact that you have delusions of grandeur, eventually, you’ll be the one they decide not to leave alone. Check it out: it’s never not worked out that way.
Curiously, it seems to be a feature of the weak, immature and power-obsessed – and usually seems to work in this way: those who deal out the interference are usually the least suitable or appropriate people to do the job: kind of like pedophiles being dead eager to run the kindergarten. Whether it’s running a council’s planning department, or deciding who should be allowed to say what – the people who want to do it are the worst choice for it. And the best people for the job – (if it has to be done at all) don’t want it (and probably would like to be left alone).
Usually, if pinned down, those who don’t want to leave you alone retreat into a litany of excuses why really, it’s for your own good. They’re really there to he’p you (and unsurprisingly they’re usually from/in Government).
I’m amazed that they know what is good for me (or anyone else) better than me.
Oh, and baby echidnas are called puggles, which seems a remarkably good reason to leave them alone to me. (I saw this one on my walk today.)