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Caught on camera

A bit of a forewarning about these videos: they are not very interesting, no narrative arc, no denouement, no crisis. Just animals going about their business eating, some with a little assistance from us, one requiring no assistance from us at all. But these encounters, glimpses are thrilling for me, a way of getting to know normally elusive creatures.

 

I don’t think there is any concern that they were appearing when it was light. These were taken in June-July when the days were long, and hogs could only go without food for so long.  And just as with the birds, the hogs are getting a bit competitive for food.

This is clearer on the IPad, but perhaps best not to see clearly. We saw this hawk hanging around the garage. It seems small for a hawk, even a male so we wondered if it is a juvenile. We soon learned what it was attracted to in the vicinity of the garage: a kill it had made previously, some time before as its prey seemed a bit stiff.  Whatever it is, it and its family have been terrorizing the birds in the yard for most of the summer.

Who knew food was so complicated

One of the hogs who have appeared in the garden was one of a good size but with a discernible wheeze and even a cough. It also was the only one whom I have seen in the morning, around 7am a few weeks back. Granted a few weeks after days of drenching rain. Nevertheless, I was concerned by both the rasp and the morning appearance, and so called our local hog rescue center, run by one very dedicated woman. She was most helpful and told us to bring the hog in when next we saw it (unfortunately, we haven’t seen it since).

During our conversation, she mentioned that the hog might have lungworm which can be caused by eating slugs. Slugs! I thought this was supposed to be part of their natural diet. And when I mentioned that I was feeding them words, she said those caused lungworm as well. When I said I fed them mealworms she said that was just as bad, whether dried or live, because they caused ‘bendy bones.’  In fact, she claimed that new research has shown not only mealworms having this effect, but peanuts, crickets and sultanas. Apparently, it has something to do with phosphorus. I asked if she could provide me with a link to this research. She sent me a copy from what appears to be something circulated to hedgehog rescue centers.  The information has found its way onto the Hedgehog Bottom Rescue page.

Now I have learned from the birds that it is important to give them a balanced diet, especially if some of the foods are not necessarily what would be found in nature. So, I am completely on board with adopting the same approach to hedgehog feeding, which is why we feed them with food specifically from hedgehogs. But, if what she provided me is the actual ‘research’ behind the advice on this page, then it demonstrates how easy it is to get people to believe something on little evidence. Firstly, there appears to be no actual research on hedgehogs themselves. In fact, the reference appears to be derived from information about horses, exotic pets and humans!  And the way these hedgehog experts push dog and cat food, and cat biscuits, to me is a little concerning. Really, I think cat and dog food is quite different from insects.

If people are leaving huge bowls of peanuts and/or worms, then fair enough. Vary things a bit. But to go from this type of feeding to draw a direct causal link to fractures smacks of all the confusing, faddish advice we humans get regularly about nutrition. If anyone wants to see the ‘research’ I was sent, I can email it as I have it in pdf form.

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My Latin Notebook

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