I have had quite a special day today…. one which I feel could be the start of another project in the WildlifeKate patch!
Anyone who follows me will know that I have two hedgehog feeding stations in the garden and I live stream images from these every night. I get hedgehog visitors just about every night, with four on cam at one point. I have had a very regular visitor for the last month or so… a hedgehog that has appeared at around half ten every night. It is difficult to see clearly on an IR camera, but this little chap did not look the healthiest of individuals. His eyes were not as clear and bright as some of the other visitors and he had a very distinct limp. He did not appear to be using one of his hind legs. It is always difficult to know when to interfere with nature. This hedgehog was only appearing after dark (a hedgehog appearing in the day is usually in trouble!) and he always had a very healthy appetite. However, the leg did not appear to be improving, so last night, when he appeared on the camera, I nipped out and picked him up. He was not happy and grunted and huffed at me as I put him in the cat basket I had prepared. There was a bed of hay and moss and food and water in there. I did not attempt to examine him as I did not want to stress him further. I placed him in my porch and left him.
This morning, I rang the West Midland Hedgehog Rescue and spoke to Joan… a wonderful lady, who runs this from her home about half an hour away from me. I drove over with ‘hop- along’ in the basket and received a warm welcome… Joan even recognised me from Springwatch! Check out her website HERE
It was not long before Joan and I were chatting and taking a look at my hedgehog. As soon as he uncurled, it was clear that this little chap was covered in mites and fleas. The mites had caused his face and eyes to become quite crusted, hence his appearance on the cameras. Apart from that he was not in bad condition. Joan felt that he was actually quite a mature male and tried to take a look at his leg. He would not let her hold it and curled up tightly each time she tried. Joan was sure it was not broken, but recommended that she take him to her vet for an x-ray.
Treating him with a lice powder and injecting him to kill any internal and external parasites, Joan took him out to her ‘Hosprickle’… a purpose-built shed that houses all her hutches.
Joan explained all about the tireless work she does caring for injured and abandoned hedgehogs all over this area. Her ‘Hosprickle’ was just about full! She even had even had three tiny babies bought in this morning. They were gorgeous! I have never seen any this small.
She also introduced me to one of her favourites… a particularly friendly little female just a few months old…
I offered to help Joan in any way I could and told her about the wildlife work I do and all about my garden. Straight away, she said that I could help her by releasing some of her well hedgehogs! They needed a soft release: That means that you have them in a run for a little while in your garden. They spend a week or so here, with a hedgehog box, food and water so they get used to their new environment. Then, you open one end of the pen so that they can come and choose when to go. You still have the house there and food and water and they can gradually wean themselves off of your support as they wander further afield.
It sounded perfect! I was more than happy to help and we loaded two little girls into my cat basket. These girls had been brought in very small and Joan had hand reared them. I was excited about bringing them home and having the chance to take a closer look and have them in my patch.
As I drove home, I thought about how I was going to make a run big enough for them. I remembered the planters that Phil had made me for the show that we stacked in my garage… they would be perfect. I had a spare hedgehog box in a corner that no one had used, so I was set. A couple of hours of drilling and affixing and I created a hedgehog pen!
I gently removed the girls from their cat basket and we all had a little hold. We had a friend’s son round, Jack, and he was keen to help and hold one too. As these wonderful creature are nocturnal, we rarely have the chance to look at them up close … they are the most appealing and gorgeous of creatures and these two were are very sweet.
I placed them in the run and they were soon exploring. It was not long before they discovered the food and water, and then the house. I checked on them later and they were both asleep in the hay.
I am looking forward to looking after these two youngsters and have called them ‘Lily’ and Lilac’. I will be marking them so I can recognise them on my cams in the future. I may also try to get a cam in their pen tomorrow.
I have a feeling that his is only the beginning! Joan and I hit it off straight away… so wonderful to see some dedicate their life to the care of animals in the way she has. I think more hedgehogs will be coming my way in the future and I hope ‘Hop-along-Cassidy’ will be ok and back in my patch soon too.