(warning hedgehog scene below some viewers may find downright disgusting)
Ok, so not a partridge and not Christmas, but the list of gifts for autumn that Nature gave to me: 1 rat scrounging, 2 mices hiding (badly), 2 sparrowhawks bathing, and–you guessed it–2 hedgehogs cadging…worms…a place to sleep…dried bugs. and God knows how many moles trying to invade my lawn. I’m not lawn proud, but between the squirrels digging into the lawn to cache and the moles digging up to break surface, it will be a wonder we have anything left!
Not the motorcycles, but the hedge kind (although I keep calling them porcupines). My husband, oh for years I guess, has been claiming that he has seen hedgehogs out in the yard at night. As I never say them myself, I labelled them his imaginary friends and forgot about them. Only this summer he’s been a bit more insistent about seeing them. But a month or so back, he produced evidence and in the conservatory!
So, I had to have my turn a few weeks ago, but only because I accidentally trapped it in the conservatory when I went to shut the door late one night. Later on, I had thought I heard a clatter coming from there, but I just assumed something had fallen. The next morning, when I opened the back door, I noticed a few things: little broom and dustpan on the floor, big broom knocked over, a puddle on the floor and some poo in the recycling.
I was a bit mystified until I discovered what you see in the first photo: an exhausted probably hungry hedgehog curled up to the best of its ability in the only comfy spot, a tub with a few old rugs and a bag of peanuts. As I knew they are sensitive to light, I threw a light rug over it, put some food and water down, and then left it to go shopping. When I came back it had scooched (a technical hedgehog term) right down to the bottom of the tub, so I got a tarp and threw it over the whole tub just to ensure no light got in. And then crept around all day long, until it finally emerged at 8pm, chowed down the food and left the conservatory.
You may disdain these digs, but they were good enough for a second visit. To my shame, I managed to trap it in the conservatory again a few days back. Again, I knew because of the broom/small broom/dustpan (what is it about these hedgehogs and brooms?). This time, our lodger automatically retired to its digs, cuddling up amidst the rugs and under the tarp. Same story as last time, awoke, sauntered around, ate and drank, took a turn around the conservatory and left. It didn’t seem too traumatized.
Ah, but I did mention two, didn’t I?
After the last debacle, I decided that I had to close the conservatory door promptly at sundown now, as I didn’t want to be responsible for a starving hedgehog (they are on the decline here, so everyone is encouraged to house and feed them). So, after it had got dark, I set up its food outside. I have bought hedgehog food, mostly dried bugs, which it will eat but not enthusiastically. I tried it out on cat food, as some websites suggest chicken and turkey not fish though not good, but that was ignored (I don’t blame it, it stinks and what in a hedgehog diet would make anyone think it would eat that stuff? And I think it encouraged the rat). Dried meal worms don’t seem to cut it. Can you guess what it has become addicted to? I tell you those birds have a lot to answer for because I now have another live meal worm addict on my hands. I’m not sure how much they are going to contribute to the weight it needs to gain for hibernation, but there you go.
Kitty cooks up sweet potato for hers and also leaves cranberries which it also seems to like…
So, I set out a half a coconut of meal worms, a little tub of dried bugs, and figured there’s plenty of water in the yard (that’s if the sparrowhawks haven’t been bathing in it). I left it to its own devices. But I couldn’t help but trying to take a peak out during its scheduled visit–usually between 8:30 and 9:00pm. When I opened the kitchen door, I heard this unusual noise. Now, hogs are noisy little things when they eat; we often hear them before we see them. But this sounded quite different from their usual snuffling and sniffling. It sounded like it was hurling a bit. So, I turned the back light on, and immediately saw a hedgehog innocently looking at me to the left, and then to the right I saw a little hedgehog bum disappearing under the wood pile. Then Hog #1 quickly hightailed it down to the bottom of the garden. Geez, at this rate, they’ll eat me out of house and home, something the birds have been intent on doing. The woman at the pet shop said she had one customer who every night had a visit from 9 hogs all in a row, and when they finished eating they all disappeared in different directions. Please God, no!
Well, I did have a story about those sparrowhawks and other bird life, as well as the bees. But I will save that for the next post. I will leave you with a few more images that should wipe the poo from your memory:
And, in case you are getting tired of hedgehogs, this beautiful creature. There was a pinkish tinge not captured here: