A Scottish Haggis

The Haggis

The Haggis is a small native animal that has adapted to Scotland’s steep hills by growing only three legs. Each leg is a different length so the result of this is that when hunting haggis, you must get them on to a flat plain and then they are very easy to catch as they can only run round in circles.

The noise haggis make during the mating season gave rise to that other great Scottish invention, the bagpipes. Speculation has it that the bagpipes were indeed invented in Scotland simply to lure unsuspecting haggis into a trap

A little known fact about the haggis is its aquatic ability. You would think that with three legs of differing lengths, the poor wee beastie wouldn’t be very good at swimming, but as some of the Scottish hillsides have rather spectacular Lochs (lakes) on them, over the years, the haggis has learned to swim very well. In the water, haggis have been known to reach speeds of up to 35 knots, and therefore coupled with their amazing agility in this environment, are extremely difficult to catch, however, if the hunter can predict where the haggis will land, a good tip is to wait in hiding on the shore, because when they come out of the water, they will inevitably run round in circles to dry themselves off.

Haggis normally give birth to two or more young Haggis, or “wee yins”, as they are called in Scotland, and from birth, their eyes are open, and they are immediately able to run around in circles, just like their parent. The wee yins are fiercely independent, and it is only a matter of weeks before they leave the parent, and go off foraging for food on their own, although it is perhaps a two or three year period before they are themselves mature enough to give birth.

Most Haggis hunters will leave the wee yins, due simply to their size, but when attacked by other predators, they are still able to emit the bagpipe like sound, which again has the effect of very quickly clearing the surrounding area of all predators, and attracting other Haggis to the scene. This results in a very low infant mortality rate, with most wee yins actually making it to adulthood. The lifespan of the Haggis is again an unknown quantity, but from tagging done in the Victorian era, we know that some haggis live for well over 100 years.

Many other countries have tried to establish breeding colonies of haggis, but to no avail. It’s something about the air and water in Scotland, which once the Haggis is removed from that environment, they just pine away.

After catching your Haggis, it is cooked in boiling water for a period of time, then served with tatties and neeps (and before you ask, that’s potatoes and turnips).

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