With Bonfire Night not so far away, please remember to check your wood piles before lighting them for hedgehogs as they will be looking for places to hibernate (November to March).
Many years ago, we had no pets as we were living in a small house and were both out at work all day. One summer, we noticed a trail in the grass but had no idea what was making it as it was too small for a cat and too big for mice. Every evening we would sit on the front (and only) step waiting to see what was visiting our garden with such regularity, but saw nothing. Using a cotton reel and length of thread, my hubbie set up this brilliant detector to alert us to our ‘mystery guest’, so that when something crossed the well trodden path, the cotton reel shot off the sideboard and we were able to get to the door to have a look. We were delighted to discover it was a hedgehog.
We didn’t have the internet then so I invested in a book called The Complete Hedgehog, by Les Stocker. He and his wife Sue ran the world’s first wildlife teaching hospital, St Tiggywinkles.
Apparently hedgehogs are found everywhere except The Americas, Australia and arctic regions, which is a shame because they really are engaging little creatures. Despite everything I’d been told as a child, hedgehogs should not be given bread or milk as their digestive systems can’t deal with it.
Hubby rigged up a water reservoir (lemonade bottle on an old frisbee) and made a catproof food station using an upside down wire hanging basket with a couple of horizontal pieces cut out to allow entry and exit.
We discovered our visitor liked peanuts (like you put out for the birds, not the salted variety), and thus he was christened. He must have told his friends, or word got around as before long, we had about six visiting our hedgehog friendly watering hole. We could almost tell the time by them, and their little mannerisms got them named Snuffles, Randy, Hoover, Bashful and Trouble.
It was fascinating to watch them and sitting on our step, we had an unrestricted view of their antics and comings and goings. It was better than any TV programme and gave us a lot of pleasure.
We were awakened one night to some horrendous noises coming from outside. It was like someone was having serious difficulty breathing and trying to cough at the same time. Immediately thinking someone was in distress, we opened the window to see if we could help. It was actually Randy living up to his name canoodling with his lady love close to the path. Judging from her avoidance tactics, she obviously wasn’t interested, but it went on for what seemed like HOURS and he just would not give in until he got his way. Lots of jokes came to mind about hairbrushes and undue pain, but eventually all seemed quiet on the hedgehog front and we managed to get back to sleep.
The following year, we kept an eye open for the first telltale trampling of the grass, and put the food and water out throughout the summer again. We had a whole family of hedgehogs now, much to the amusement of our neighbours, whose gardens they NEVER visited!