We’ve had some surprise visitors here at Hippie Otter HQ, two little hedgehogs a week apart. This time of year hedgehog should be hibernating or about to hibernate, not wandering around the lawn just after lunchtime.
The first appeared about about 2.30pm on a Saturday afternoon at the beginning of November, running across the garden being chased by magpies. After weighing it at 280 grams (too small!) and checking it for wounds (thankfully the magpies didn’t seem to do any damage) it spent about an hour in the Belfast sink that sits outside (Mum brought it home from work one day and it’s been sitting outside whilst we work out what to do with it, what do you do with a large ceramic sink?!) with a container of dog food and dish of water whilst we prepared a box for it to stay in and tried to find a rescue center that could take it.
We took it to Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue in Windlesham, Surrey after spending the night with us and eating half its body weight of dog food in about 18 hours. The lovely folk at Harper Asprey are now are now looking after it (now named Otter after the village we live in) and making sure that it is gaining enough weight to hibernate and be released in spring.
The second hedgehog appeared almost exactly one week after the first, about 1pm on the Saturday, running across the lawn with the magpies thankfully only looking on this time. Again it weighed less than 300 grams and after scoffing another container of dog food (that thankfully we got from the supermarket only a few days before to replace the one that got eaten by the last hedgehog) and spending the night with us it went off the join it’s friend (and possible sibling) at Harper Asprey for the winter. We called it Shaw, the other half of our village name.
We got told that we might be able to get our hedgehogs (or at least other hedgehogs needing homes) back to be released in our garden in the spring. We got told that they were looking after 250 hedgehogs and that has probably got up since then! That is a lot of furry but spiky mouths to feed! And they look after other animals too, like deer, foxes, even birds of prey!
We have bought a hedgehog box to replace the one we removed in the summer because it was so rotten and placed it amongst the dead leaves under our rhododendron bushes. Hopefully any remaining hedgehogs still awake will find it and stay warm in it over the winter. We are also currently working out how to make a feeding cover so that when we put food out only the hedgehogs can get to the food, not the foxes or the annoying cats that also frequent our garden. And fingers crossed that no more hedgehogs will need rescuing!
Whilst I had hedgehogs in my presence I couldn’t help but take photos of the adorable creatures. Some of these aren’t the best but I was trying not to get too close and some are in low light conditions without flash so I didn’t disturb them.
If you have a garden please do your bit to look after the hedgehogs, they are declining and need our help. You can find out what you can do to help by visiting Hedgehog Street.
If you have a bit of spare cash this Christmas (or any other time of year) please consider donating to your local wildlife charities. Without them there would be nobody to look after the underweight hedgehogs, poorly badgers and injured foxes and the world would be a sadder place. If you want to donate to Harper Asprey or buy something off their Amazon wishlist their website is here.
If we are lucky and we do get to release some hedgehogs I’ll be sure to do a follow up post to show off all the cute photos. Keep an eye out here and on my Facebook and/or Twitter when the weather starts to warm up again.