I went out to feed the barn cats and put the chickens to bed just before 4.30 yesterday afternoon. On my way back to the house, I saw a hedgehog on the drive, looking sorry for itself. I went over to it and it just sat there, so I fetched a towel and a cardboard box, picked it up and put it in, and fetched a plate and some cat food.
About three months ago, there was an appeal on the local email group for some newspapers to tear up for hedgehog bedding. We take two papers a day, so always have plenty, and I phoned to offer them, and have taken more since. So I knew who the most local hedgehog rescue people were and rang them up. Tessa said she’d get a cage ready straight away and I said I’d be ten minutes. It was a bit longer in fact, as the temperature had already dropped to freezing and I couldn’t see through the windscreen until I cleared it.
It didn’t seem a very big hedgehog to me, but its underparts are going gingerish, which is a sign of age and, though it’s a bit thin, it weighed 557 grams, which isn’t a bad weight. All the same, out in the open, it would have died overnight and I’m so glad I saw it. On the way in the car, it warmed up enough to eat the cat food with a very keen enjoyment, so that was a good sign. Tessa removed a tick and sprayed it with flea killer – in the next ten minutes, a couple of hundred, I should think, fleas fell off as I watched in fascinated horror. I’m not especially squeamish, but all the same, ewww. Tessa didn’t examine it as it had curled up, but she wanted me to give it a name. I don’t really name non-domestic animals – I don’t even give the chickens names – but it’s Tim if a boy (sorry LT, I haven’t mentioned this) or Tilly if a girl. If it survives (being a bit old) then it’ll be returned here in the spring and we’ll put out food and water. This is a very good site for hedgehogs, so Tessa can put other homeless ones here too, if she likes.
Everyone loves hedgehogs, who could fail to? Their numbers are diminishing sadly, as is the case with a lot of wildlife. We don’t have the birds, the insects or anything else that we used to. Pigeons and rooks, but not the songbirds, nor what they eat. Foxes and muntjac but even the grey squirrels that are a nuisance have not been seen for a year or two. Just one hedgehog. I hope I’ve saved it, by delivering it into the care of Tessa and Keith.