At the start of August, we realised that hedgehogs ((Erinaceus europaeus) were living in the courtyard, probably under one of the woodsheds. Karl saw a young one out in the day near a dish of water and thought it must have been looking for a drink. They shouldn’t be out during the day, so action was needed. We started by putting out other sources of water as well as suitable food, cat food in this instance.
Please, never, ever put out milk for hedgehogs, they cannot digest it and it makes them ill. There is advice about what to feed them here.
It turned out that we had a family of hedgehogs living right here that we hadn’t known about, a mother and two young ones. Given how hot and dry it’s been this summer, they must have been having a hard time finding enough to eat. There is always water available here, but we had only been feeding birds and not mammals – that had to change.
I have little experience of caring for hedgehogs, but found useful information on The Hedgehog Preservation Society‘s website and on Hedgehog Street. We put food and water near to the house so that we could watch over our guests and check the young ones were growing and that all were getting enough to eat and drink. That started on August 2 and has continued every night since. The hedgehogs arrive one at a time, gather around the dish of food and eat for a good half hour, sometimes longer, going from food to water and back again. Once they’ve had enough, they wander off, one by one, through the flower bed and go under the gap in the gate to explore and, hopefully, find natural food.
When talking to my dad about it all he said we ought to name them, so we have. How do you choose a name for a hedgehog, though? Apart from the mother, we don’t know what sex they are and, in any case, human names didn’t seem quite right so we had to think. Eventually, we decided on descriptive names that relate to behaviours we’ve seen. I feel more comfortable with this – calling them names like George or Susan wouldn’t tell you who was being talked about.
Let’s have some introductions. The first night we saw the mother hedgehog, we inadvertently frightened her and sent her rushing for cover. Her name is Runs Fast. The smallest hedgehog has a tendency to climb into the food dish, so is called Eats in Dish. To start with, the middle hedgehog invariably arrived at the bowl last, so we called it Late for Breakfast. If they change what they’re doing we might pick new names, but we’ll probably stick with the names we chose first.