We used to have a lot of Hedgehogs in the garden, these days we don’t see so many. The other night Rifkin was barking incessantly, & when we went to investigate, there was alarge Hedgehog on the path. I’m always surprised by the way they move, there legs are quite long so they are higher off the ground than I expect & they can move really fast.

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A friend of ours has taken a dislike to them, she says they eat the frogs. I don’t know about that myself, although we have a definite shortage of frogs this year, & those we have are tiny.  I’ve just checked out Wikipedia & yes they can eat frogs…bother. Lots of other useful info there, so I don’t think it’s worth my while regurgitaing it all here. Years ago our dog dug up a nest of hedgehogs, there were 3 or 4 babies , all except one were dead, & this one looked dead too. I picked up the tiny pink body, about the size of my thumb & as I held it in my hand to look at it, the warmth  must have revived it a bit & it gave a little quiver. Galvanised into action, I took it home &  wrapped it up in a soft cloth & put it on a hottie. I made up a brew of my ‘baby animal’  mix, which is a little honey, egg yolk, milk & a tiny bit of codliver oil. Warmed up in eggcup doses . The baby took this from a dropper & went to sleep, well as much as I could guess, since it was bald, pink & blind at this stage. Much like rearing kittens or puppies a baby hedgehog needs to have it’s tummy & bottom wiped to stimulate it to go to the toilet. We had a seed raising heat pad, which we adjusted the temp of, by stacking magazines on top of it, this provided a steady temp. Usually I’d wake once or twice in the night to feed the baby, although before long it was big enough to go all night.To cut a long story short, our baby thrived, we called it Hoggle. Hoggle was quite a character, in the evenings I would let him out to explore, when he was tired he would climb up onto my lap, curl up in my hand & go to sleep. As he got bigger he became more adventurous & loved to get behind the fireplace & into the backs of cupboards. As he got older he became more & more nocturnal, & then started to reflexly curl into a ball when startled, we decided this was a good time to release him into the garden. We set up a house in the shrubs, but I don’t think he ever slept there. For some time we put food out too. The next year we came across a mother hedgehog & about 6 babies in the garden, we wondered if it was our Hoggle & if he was a she after all.

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One interesting fact I’ve learnt, is that hedgehogs perform a ritual, called anointing. This explains one of Hoggle’s less charming habits, & something we had been very perplexed by.. He would chew up cat biscuits into a frothy mess, then smear it down each side of his body, looked quite weird, green & red!  He smelt very bad after this process so I would give him a bath. Must have been one of the cleanest hedgehogs around. Apparently in the wild, this habit is performed to possibly cover their scent.

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