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Friday, 8 May 2020

Hedgehog Update

Last month’s video of hedgehogs in the night was popular (view again here), so here is an update with a bit of hedgehog history.

Boris the hedgehog

Some years ago we spotted a tiny hedgehog at the side of the lawn. It was lethargic and not very healthy looking. It remained there for several hours. We put it on straw in a cardboard box with some cat food and water, and kept it in the greenhouse for a few days. At first it slept most of the time. We called it Boris (which at that time raised no association with any other person of that name). It did not need a ventilator.

A few days later, daughter noticed another little hedgehog running along the road on the way home from school (we have very well-educated hedgehogs in our village). It was a good way from the open fields, so it seemed best to rescue that one too. We called it Bear.

Boris is shown above in his cardboard box, and below curled in a glove, with Bear on the ground. Tiny, little, weightless things.

Bear and Boris the young hedgehogs

Bear soon went off on his own, and after a few days Boris was running around in the greenhouse. He was quite smelly, so we gave him a bath and put him in the sun to dry. He climbed out of his box and ran off: a good sign.

Spike's dry hedgehog food Neighbour's cat eating hedgehog food
We made a hedgehog feeding station out of a plastic storage box, and it was visited regularly into the autumn and each year since. One day, noisy crunching revealed quite a large hedgehog inside.

Last year, food continued to be eaten into the winter months, long after hedgehogs should be hibernating, so we bought a low-cost infra-red wildlife camera (a 20MP, 1080p, Apeman HSS for around £70, plus batteries and an SD card) to see if they were still active. It filmed only very fat mice, so we stopped feeding.

This year in early April, wondering whether hedgehogs were active again, or whether it had been only mice all along, we put out the camera again and filmed the hedgehogs in last month’s video. As the old hedgehog feeding station was holed and brittle, we left food in a dish beside the shed. Within thirty minutes it had gone, the culprit, Blacky Whitepaws, caught on camera. It was time to make a new feeding station.


Hedgehog feeding station and infra-red wildlife camera

Here is the new one beside the shed, with the wildlife camera tied to the tree. The feeding station is basically a wood-lined plastic box with a hedgehog-sized hole in the end (cut with a Dremel electric craft tool so as not to split the box), covered with a sheet of roofing felt. The newspaper on the floor is for the hedgehogs to read while eating (as mentioned above, they are very well-educated).


The camera is set to capture ten-second video sequences (there are now nearly a thousand of them), so there are jumps when the clips are stitched together (I could get the old laptop and use Windows Video Editor to make nice fades between the clips but that’s too much bother. I cannot understand why there is only a cut-down version in Windows 10). The assembled video is at the end after the following summary of its content.

The feeding station was visited by a large hedgehog on night one, and from the way it unhesitatingly went into the box, it had probably fed from it last year and knew what it was. It ate half the biscuits and then had a drink. 

The following two weeks were colder nights and there were only cats, mice and birds.

The mice seem to have had a litter of little ones which gradually became more adventurous. After a few days, they inevitably found the food in the feeding station and if you watch carefully you can see them jumping away with biscuits in their mouths and scurrying under the shed.

Stripey Cat Watching Mouse
The cats clearly know about the mice. Stripey Cat lays in wait for ages but, so far as we know, has not caught any yet. Isn’t he handsome! Does that little mouse think he’s handsome too, as if hypnotised by fearful symmetry before being grasped in a deadly throat-hold?
Long Legs watching hedgehog
We are not buying food for mice, so we moved the box to a different position. Two nights later, in slightly warmer weather, a hedgehog appeared in the presence of Long Legs. The camera shows what I’ve read elsewhere: cats and hedgehogs rarely bother each other. After Long Legs had gone, hedgehog returns and gives its ear a scratch, and then returns again after dawn.

Finally, we moved the camera to another position and caught a hedgehog rooting through the vegetation. Nights then became colder again and they have not used the feeding station for a while. Hopefully, by moving the camera around, it might be possible to track down where the hedgehogs are nesting.

It’s not exactly David Attenborough. Blogger Rachel sees hedgehogs all the time in rural Norfolk, and Elizabeth in Oregon (Saved By Words on Wordpress) has skunks, woodchucks, opossums, raccoons and coyotes in her yard. Even in ordinary English town and village gardens, there are things in the night we don’t see. Our cats know but never tell us. Here is the assembled video. The date, time and temperature for each section appear in the black band at the bottom.


26 comments:

  1. It sounds rather grand to say that I see them all the time in Norfolk although it is true my garden is a bit of a hedgehog highway and last Summer they even stopped here while passihg between gardens to forage around. One of the main predators of the hedgehog is the badger and we don't have badgers in this county so we have lots of hedgehogs. The funny thing is that I am not very fond of them and regard them as rats with spines but they roam free and unfettered by me, and the cats don't pay any attention to them either.

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    1. I think they have pleasanter faces than rats and the little ones are very cute. We sometimes get rats too, but a neighbour we refer to as Mrs Rat Poison gets upset about them and calls the council.

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  2. We used to have a family of hedgehogs regularly visiting our garden when we lived in Sussex. One night we were awoken by a noise and looked out of the window to see a baby hedgehog with its snout inside an empty milk bottle which we had left out on the step. The bottle was rolling around on its side with the hedgehog still attached. P went out to free it, thinking it had got stuck, but it just ambled off. It seems it was just playing.

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    1. Or deliberately trying to annoy you? Or checking on behalf of the milkman that you had washed out the bottles properly?

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  3. Fascinating stuff Tasker - clearly, as you say, cats and hedgehogs live side by side happily - but my goodness those cats are aware there are mice near.

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    1. One mistake from those mice and ... It was quite interesting that the cat and the hedgehog seemed simply to ignore each other.

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  4. Very interesting! We don't have hedgehogs in Canada. Must be too cold for them.

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    1. Probably too cold for me as well, but daughter is trying to get a university placement there - albeit Victoria.

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  5. This video is wonderful! I find it fascinating that hedgehogs and cats pay no attention to one another. Those are very lucky mice to not be caught by one of the cats. It is good to know that your hedgehogs are well educated too!

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  6. Thankyou so much for a lovely,lovely video. I love the shot of the tabby cat and the glowing eyes of the mouse under the shed. More please.
    Briony
    x

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    1. There's hours of it on the night camera, mainly of the mice who set it off at least 10 times every night if it's tied to the tree.

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  7. I love this! Hedgehogs live in the gardens of my neighbourhood, too. When my downstairs neighbours' cat was still alive, many nights the cat would sit at a respectful distance while a very large hedgehog was helping himself to most of the contents of the cat's food dish placed on the patio.

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    1. That must have been amusing to watch. I wonder why cats tolerate them so well.

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  8. This blogpost is further evidence that Yorkshire people are very kind and really care about the other creatures that share this planet with us. Solidarity With Yorkshire Hedgehogs!

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  9. Love all the meesies, too, jumping about and eating up the grubs.

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    1. They activated the camera about 25 times last night again. Thinking of dangling some currants from the tree to see how acrobatic they are.

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  10. Over the past week I've found two (possibly the same one) wandering around in the daytime. They (it) seemed totally unperturbed by my presence. I've always been a big fan of Hedgies.

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    1. I didn't know until I looked it up recently that British and European hedgehogs are the same species. Presumably it goes back to when England and France were connected.

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  11. Enjoyed the video, specially the little mice dashing in and out. I wonder if there are animal parties going on in your garden. Definitely a children's book there.

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    1. The camera takes more pictures of mice than anything else. Wondering what puzzles we can think up so they have to climb and jump and solve problems to get to food.

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  12. Dear Tasker, If that really is your name, Sir. Sounds a bit, erm, uhh, fishy. It's none of my, urmm, business what you call your hedgehog, well I don't suppose for a minute that he, erm, or she, erm, comes when you call out *Boris, a word in your shell-like.* But I do object when you, ormm, make facetious comments about me, your dedicated and, ermm, devoted, ermm, Prime Minister. The last two incumbents in No. 10 were, uhh, prize boobies, duds, wankers (sorry Theresa but politics is a rough business Baby) history's waste products, or as Enoch used to say, quoting some classical geezer, *What shades we are.* No, really, Tasker, if that's your name Mate, I do object when you christen your lethargic and not very well looking hedgehog after me, your dedicated and devoted, sorry I'm ermmm, repeating myself. But I've not been well, it's been no laughing matter, the girlfriend was pretty grotty too, and the way things are going, frankly, I don't see how I can leave any kind of legacy behind me, not like that charlatan Tony Blair, the Queen's other daughter as Fay Weldon called him, Bambie as his wife used to taunt him with, and Cherie is no bleddy oil painting. So Tasker, matey, chum, kind soul to ailing hedgehogs, lay off me in your darling little blog, the girlfriend, soon to be Wife No. 3, follows you devotedly by the way, she thinks you could be the new James Herriot, her Nan's favourite author, all you need is an agent, get your name out there. With a bit of British luck and a few prayers from the Queen Mum in Heaven, she was a spiritualist by the way, we will all, ermmm, get through this thing. Together. And I can get back to fixing the economy which is totally F***** by the way. So enjoy your garden when you can mate, because we will be levelling a new Garden Tax as soon as we're out of this, ermm, shite. Now a bit of Elgar wouldn't go amiss, Pomp and ahhhr, Circumstance, though the girlfriend, soon to be Wife No. 4, prefers Sir Mick Jagger. I suppose I was born old, could never take to Jaggs, though he's had some crumpet in his time. I must be on the up and up Tasker, if the old, urmm, libido is kicking in again. Onwards and upwards, ay squire? Keep blogging man, you're what's left of England, well, Nigel Farage too, bloody sly little rat, his place in history's effing assured, isn't it? Funny how it all works out.

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  13. They are cute, little fellas. We've coyotes occasionally coming down from the hills in search of grub. They often look a bit like the Velveteen Rabbit: worn & dingy.

    If I were a cat, then I'd want to hang out where all the action is as well! Thanks for posting more video.

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    1. Elizabeth on WordPress says coyotes sometimes kill cats, so if I were a cat I'd be very wary around your place.

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