Sunday, 1 May 2011

Catching Up

We were rather shocked when we realised it is a month since the last post to the blog, so a bit of catching up is in order. We've been busy, not least keeping an eye on the prickly visitors to the garden.

This is the fourth year we've been watching the visiting hedgehogs, but we decided we would be a bit more "hands on" than in previous years - instead of just watching them, we would check them over on a regular basis, and more importantly mark them so we could be more precise in the monitoring. This has shown us just how many hedgehogs we have visiting, since without marking most hedgehogs do actually look quite similar, at least through the lens of an infra-red camera.

The last post to the blog, on 2nd April, reported on the eigth visitor to the garden, whom we had named Henry or Henrietta, as the hedgie had not fully uncurled. This particular hedgehog has continued to visit the garden, and a subsequent check-up has confirmed that he is, in fact, Henry.

That last post also referred to hedgehog number nine, Gordon, and number ten, Cameron, and until the beginning of the week that was how it has stayed, with ten hedgehogs. This week we had a sighting of an unmarked hedgie by the boiler room. We gave hime a check-up, and number 11 is another male, Osborne. We had a sighting of another unmarked hedgie two nights ago, but didn't manage to check him/her over.

So, the current count it 11, two females (Bailout and Cameron) and nine males. Not surprisingly, the girls are in great demand, and we have seen some very active courting. We were amazed to see that James had actually visited Cameron in her bedroom - they were active in there for an hour or so, before moving outside, where they spent another hour circling on the patio, (right outside the back door), before moving up the steps onto the lawn for another couple of hours.

Unfortunately, we'd had little Henry in for another check-up and were just about to put him outside again when the two lovers moved onto the patio, and poor Henry was nursed for an hour until the coast was clear.

James "007" was cetainly behaving like his namesake where the girls were concerned, but the other hedgehogs were also trying their luck. Although Quattro was living in 9a and 9f for quite some time, he has moved out of the garden, just spending the odd night in one of the boxes.

We now only have one resident - Cameron. She is alternating between 9c and 9d. She spends quite a lot of the night in one or other of the boxes, although she does go out and spend some time on the feeders, and also out of the garden.

It does seem that all eleven of the hedgehogs we have identified are still visiting the garden regularly, most of them several times a night. The only one we haven't seen for certain for a couple of weeks is Twearly, although we think we did see him two nights ago. His emulsion markings are wearing off and in need of touching up.

We are rather concerned that most of them have actually lost weight recently. We weighed them at the first opportunity after they came out of hibernation, and most of them had put weight on then next time we checked them, but subsequent checks show that most of them have lost weight since. We have had no rain in the area for about six weeks, so we think natural food supplies must be rather poor. We always have food and water out for them, but it seems they are still looking elsewhere. Water in particular is probably quite difficult to find, and we have seen several hedgehogs come into the garden, walk past three food bowls to the water, have a drink and leave the garden again.

The other big worry has been the large number of ticks on some of the hedgehogs. I think Bailout holds the record, with 36 ticks removed in one night. Fortunately, most of them were tiny, so they hadn't been on her to suck much blood, but we hate to think what state she should have been in within a few days.

After Bailout, the next worse hedgie for ticks was poor Alfie, with 22 on him, most of them very swollen with blood. As related earlier, he also had pneumonia, and we decided to bring him indoors for treatment.

We have found a wonderful Vet, Rachel, and she has been very helpful with his treatment. After a course of treatment with Baytril, his pneumonia cleared up, but he had developed a cough. We sent a poo sample off to Vale Wildlife Hospital. Caroline Gould, who runs Vale, was so helpful, analysing the poo sample, and ringing us up to advise on treatment. This told us that poor Alfie had lungworm and another parasite, so we took him back to Rachel for more treatment. After a five day course of Telmin for the lungworm, backed up with Baytril, his breathing was much improved. He's also had two injections of Ivomectin for the other parasite. We're due to start the second course of Telmin on Monday, and hopefully after that he should recover - a second poo sample to Vale confirmed that he was clear.

So, we should be saying goodbye to Alfie shortly, although we hope he will simply move back into his old home in 9b, where he's lived since he was a hoglet - but who knows? We will have to wait and see. The good news is that he has put on weight - he was 790g when we weighed him just after he came out of hibernation, 780g after we had removed all of the ticks. He's now 1050g, so we feel he's doing quite well.

So, that has brought things a little up to date. We'll try and take advantage of the long weekend to catch up on some of the videos we have to post.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

I'm Henrietta the Eighth, I am

We've been rather busy this week, so haven't been able to post for a few days, but the hedgehogs are getting very active.

James "007" has now become a resident - he's moved into 9b. He'd been coming down on to the patio for a feed, and taking a snooze between meals under the garden seat in the the corner of the patio, but then one night he took a snooze in 9b. He obviously liked it, because he went in later and spent the day there. He wasn't in today (they all seem to have the odd awayday) but came back in about 22:00 tonight. He's just come out again.

Here he is having a little "fun" with Spot. James arives first - he has the spot on his neck, and Spot has the stripe on his rear. Sorry about the quality of the video. This is one of the older cameras and is getting very grotty. We have installed a new one with more-or-less the same view, and it is giving better pictures.

When we first checked James on 26th Match he weighed 540g. We checked him again tonight - 650g, so he seems to be doing quite well. He had one very large tick behind his ear, which we removed, and we touched up his paintwork.

The next arrival, number 8, arrived on 28th March, and weighed 710g. It wouldn't uncurl fully, so we weren't quite sure if it was a boy or girl, but the attention it has been receiving from the males makes us think she was a girl, so we called her Henrietta the Eighth, and marked her with two spots on the neck. Surprisingly, she had no ticks on her.

Here Henrietta (as yet unmarked) co-stars with James and Tog (three spots on rear). We wondered if we had mis-identified James, as Tog didn't bulldoze him, but we have confirmed that James is a boy, so maybe he's too small for Tog to worry about.

We had decided that hedgie number ten would have to be called Cameron, so when number nine turned up, we decided on Gordon - the one before Cameron. This little chap was marked with three spots on his neck, but we only saw him the one night.

Cameron showed up unexpectedly - in 9c (Nightshift's old pad) this morning. It was down on the patio eating outside 9c and popped in for a snooze. Just after five it went in for the day. There was no sign of a hedgehog on the 9c bedroom camera, but the straw seemed very tidy. About 8:30 this morning I was looking at the monitor, just in time to see a little bum disappearing into the straw.

We haven't actually checked Cameron over yet - we don't like to grab them right outside their home, and we lost track of it when it went up on to the lawn yesterday. It came out early this evening - about 20:00, just as it was dark - for a drink, and gave us a lovely close up scratch which let us see that she is a girl. We decided to stick with Cameron, instead of renaming her Samantha.

She's just been out for a feed and gone back into 9c. She had a bit of a shock earlier this evening - Tog came down on to the patio. Outside 9c his nose went up and he started sniffing - and piled into 9c. Cameron defended her honour wonderfully, and Tog was ejected after a brief scuffle.

So, apart from Gordon, who we've only seen once (but he could have come in when we weren't looking) we are still getting all of the hedgies visiting every night. Twearly is still busy - we need to get him in for a check and a touch-up. Quattro is still with us, spending two or three nights in 9f, and then one in 9a.

Spot is very active. He was tucking in to mealies on the feeder outside 9a last night when Quattro returned home. Quattro just zipped in - no fighting or anything.

The only one missing from the list is poor Alfie. He's still in the bathroom, being dosed with Baytril. He does seem better, in that his nose isn't running as much, although his breathing is still noisy sometimes. He is eating, but is only putting on weight very slowly. He was 915g yesterday and today, so he had gained from the 780g when we first took him in. His poos seem normal so we think he's hanging in there. He is quite lively when we give him the Baytril orally, so we will continue to look after him. Of course, at the moment there is a squatter in Alfie's 9b.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Name's Hedgehog, ... James Hedgehog

What else could we call Hedgehog 007, but James? We first saw him on the patio two nights ago, munching the mealies outside Alfie's pad, 9b. At first we thought it might be Alfie, but he didn't go into 9b. Instead, every ten or fifteen minutes he disappeared into the corner for ten minutes or so - we assume for a snooze. Alfie would definitely have gone back into 9b - and besides, the poor hedgie who we are certain is Alfie was poorly in our bathroom.

James was on the patio for two hours then, and he appeared on the patio again last night. We did see him earlier in the evening, getting thoroughly bulldozed by Twearly. After Twearly left him alone, we went to collect him to get a check-up. He was the smallest hedgie we've had this year - only 540g, curled up length 47cm, curled up breadth 38cm. From his size we think he must be one of last year's hoglets, the same sort of age as little Bailout.

We removed two ticks from him, but apart from that he seemed in good condition. He (we confirmed he is a he) was very inquisitive and uncurled very readily. We wouldn't have room on his little bum to make a lot of marks, so we gave him a spot on his neck.

A little later we saw little Bailout go into 9e, and were horrified to see Tog heading for the feeding station very shortly after. Tog is definitely Top Hog in the garden, and we've seen him plaster several very large hedgehogs against the back wall of 9e, so poor little Bailout didn't stand a chance... except that when he arrived, Tog started rubbing noses.He pushed Bailout into the corner, but not violently - more a case of Bailout backing off. Bailout just kept eating. We wondered what was happening - until we realised the Bailout must be a little girl, and Tog was fancying his chances - and little Bailout wanted her dinner. We had never got Bailout to uncurl fully so we could be certain of the gender.

We were shocked to see more ticks on Bailout - we had already taken 13 off a couple of nights ago, but in view of what we had seen on poor Alfie we decided to check her over again. When Tog exited 9e we grabbed Bailout - you can see a pair of feet and gloved hands at the end of the video.

We confirmed Bailout is, indeed a little girl, and that she now weighs 580g. What we hadn't expected was what came next - a marathon de-ticking session, lasting over two hours. By the end, we had removed 36 ticks (remember we had taken 13 off a few nights earlier). Fortunately, only two were large, bloated ones full of blood, so they hadn't taken as much out of her as the ones we took off Alfie - 24 of them, almost all bloated. It looks as though this year is a good year for ticks, and a bad year for anything which they can hook into. They were everywhere on Bailout, including about 15 on her face and five or dix in her ears. She was amazingly patient, sitting there quietly for two hours while we removed the ticks.

Meanwhile, Alfie is still being cared for in the bathroom. I don't know if we are getting better or if Alfie is making things easier for us, but the oral does of Baytril seemed easier today. His chest and snuffles are still bad, but he seems a little more energetic. He only put on 10g today, but at least he's not losing weight.

Bailout Made It ... and so did Alfie

Forgot to post this as we've been busy with work and hedgehogs...

On the night of 22nd/23rd of March we had a lovely surprise - a hedgehog on the lawn feeder with a single spot on his back - Bailout, the small hedgehog which returned to the garden in late November last year for a couple of weeks, trying to make up weight before he hibernated.

At the last weighing, a few days before hibernation, he had made 600g, so we hoped he would be safe, and it was a relief to see that single white spot on his back. We picked him up to give him a check-up. He weighed 585g, curled up length 45cm breadth 38cm. We think he was probably 650g to 700g at hibernation. The bad news - lots of ticks on him, but fortunately most were small. Removed 13 in all, two large, one medium and the rest very small, hardly swollen at all. Possibly one or two more near his eyes, but couldn't get at them, since he wouldn't uncurl fully, the same problem we had last year.

Earlier in the evening we'd had an even bigger surprise - a little nose suddenly poked out of the straw in 9b bedroom - and we didn't even know we'd got a second lodger.

Checking back through the previous night's videos we saw the hedgehog arrive - in through the decking, a seven minute feed on the bowl by 9a, down on to the patio, and straight into 9b. We thought it must be Alfie, as he knew where he was going - back to the nest where he'd spent the whole of last year, and then end of the year before.

He seemed quite interested in 9a - lifting up to give it a sniff, but we were horrified to see his face shortly after as he came to feed on 9a bowl - there was a huge tick just above his eye, and there seemed to be several others.

So, when he came out we left him get up on to the lawn, and picked him up for a check-up. What we found was frightening. The poor chap was covered in ticks, virtually all of them swollen and full. In all, we removed 26 ticks. The hedgehog forums say that more than 10 ticks on a hedgehog can lead to anaemia, and more than thirty could be fatal. Not only that, he had a runny nose and terrible, wheezy, breathing, which indicates pneumonia. To top it all, he only weighed 790g (with ticks) and 780g (without ticks). We wondered if it really was Alfie, because we had thought Alfie looked rather overweight last year, and couldn't believe he weighed so little. However, the way he went straight into 9b, the way he ate hanging out of 9b doorway and the way he had a scratch when he got up convinced us it really is Alfie.

With the bad chest we decided to take him to the vet the next morning, so we kept him in overnight.

The next morning we took him to a vet. She was very kind, and agreed to treat him, even though wild hedgehogs are not their normal patient - they even had to enter him on the computer as a mouse, as they didn't have an entry for hedgehogs. After examining as best she could, she prescribed Baytril for his bad chest, and gave him an injection. She gave us enough Baytril for a course for a week, to give him the rest orally, twice a day.

We hope the little chap pulls through.

This makes hedgehogs five and six out of hibernation.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Two special videos

We have never really been interested in making movies, and took nothing but still photographs until we got interested in hedgehogs. As a result we have never had any experience of video editing, and so our  videos have really only been clips of the captures from the DVRs.

Sometimes the action is spread across several cameras and we have managed to join a few clips together, but the three cameras in the alley (10, 11 and 12) sometimes call for special treatment, as they are arranged to look down, across and up the alley from the same point. This clip uses the "picture in picture" to show the action on all three cameras as it moves from one camera to the next and back.

It happened a few days ago, as Quattro was making his way up the alley, having left home in 9f a few minutes earlier. He stops just before the ATM, and has a "toothpaste moment" (watch his little tail go up first). We don't know if he was preparing for what happened next, or just got caught at an inconvenient moment, but Tog comes dashing out of the ATM and bowls him over. Poor Quattro is then well and truly battered by Tog for several minutes.

This is a video from June last year, taken on the normal video camera we bought on eBay. It is of Nightshift, just after she moved out of the nest box in the garden (we think to have her hoglets). After she moved out she visited regularly for a few weeks, but then she stopped coming and we haven't seen her since. We still miss her, as she was our first resident and was visiting us for nearly three years. We found that in the long days several hedgehogs would visit in the late evening before it was dark - we think they were probably getting hungry. It meant that we were able to video in daylight instead of Infra-Red and thus use the normal video camera. It is so nice to have a video showing what a hedgehog really looks like. It is high definition, so it may be worth viewing full screen.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Quattro goes flat hunting and Spot the Hedgehog

No, it's not a game - Spot the Hedgehog is our fourth visitor to emerge from hibernation. More of him later...

Quattro the hedgehog has been living in his semi-detached nest box 9f (left) for a couple of weeks, apart from the odd awayday to 9a in the back garden. The nest box next door, 9f (right), is unoccupied. He spends quite a lot of time in the nest, with his head in the hall, or even in the hall with his back to the camera. This time he was resting in the hall with his back down the tunnel, towards the exit. He seems to have put on a little weight and reverses down the tunnel, since he seems to be having trouble turning round. He then gives the entrance camera a sniff - and goes into 9f (right) to have a look. He was in for about three minutes, but went back to his own box, so maybe he doesn't like it. Although he passes the entrance to 9f (right) every time he goes in and out, this is the first time he has been in exploring. There is a camera in 9f (right) as well, but unfortunately it is covered in straw at the moment, so we couldn't see what he got up to.

We had a cold spell at the beginning of the week, but didn't realise how cold it was until we saw the videos, and saw that the water had frozen. Here is poor Twearly having a drink - the corner near him is not quite frozen, but he seems to be running his foot over the frozen part.

We have another cold night tonight. I've checked and the water is already partially frozen, so we've put a microwaveable heat pad under the water. Hopefully it will keep the water from freezing, but it is a little thick, so access to the water will be more difficult - but we think the hedgies will manage.

For the last few nights we've been having a fourth, unmarked, hedgehog visiting the garden. He's been beaten up by both Tog and Quattro, but he's still visiting, although it has been after we went to bed so we missed him. He came a little earlier last night, so we went out to give him a check up.

Surprisingly, he barely curled up when picked up, and he uncurled almost immediately. He was able to curl up - he didn't like it when we turned him on his back to see if he was a boy or girl (he is a boy) and curled up, but straightened out as soon as we had him the right was up. He didn't appear to have any problems curling up, he just didn't want to.

He was in good shape, with no ticks we could see. He weighed 720g, so he was the smallest yet - we wonder if he was one of last year's youngsters. Curled up, his breadth was 40cm, his length 44cm.

As we're running out of space on the rear end for five spots, we marked his with a horizontal stripe - and called him Spot...

We are lucky in that most of our hedgehogs do seem to be in good condition, but we did take poor little Twosie, after whom we named this blog, to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, who do a great job looking after hedgehogs and all other wildlife. They have had a poor hedgehog in for some time who has lost all of his spines and fur, and photos keep finding there way into the media. The latest one, wearing a knitted jumper, was on the Telegraph web page today.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Quattro has an Awayday

When he first arrived in the garden after coming out of hibernation, Quattro spent a couple of nights in 9f at the front of the house. We were surprised when he spent the next day in 9a nest box in the back garden. Here he is arriving:

We were surprised the way he trotted down the lawn and into 9a - he appeared to know exactly where he was going. As you can see in the background, it was just starting to get light. He spent the day in 9a, but as we expected, he came out of 9a, had a bite to eat, and went out for the night:

and when he went to bed the next morning, it was back to 9f. He was quite restless during the day, as most hedgehogs seem to be, rearranging the bedding, sleeping, and sometimes just laying in the tunnel looking out:

He stayed the next few nights in 9f, but last night he moved back into 9a. He was up quite early tonight, around 20:00 - and he was back in 9f having his dinner and retiring for a nap by 20:30.

We saw the unmarked visitor again last night - in at the ATM, fifteen minutes eating in 9e and out via the decking. We were hoping to check him over when he came down to the water, but he didn't come down.

Tog was his usual self, showing who is boss. We were amazed to see how he treated poor Quattro. Tog was in the garden when Quattro came trundling up the alley alst night - but Quattro stopped just outside the ATM and waited, for quite a while. Sure enough, Tog came shooting out of the ATM, and bulldozed Quattro about 2 metres down the alley, right in front of camera 12. Then Tog went further down the alley, turned round and battered Quattro again - then up the alley, turn round and strike again. Then off he went, down the alley.

Twearly was in again, but he gives 9e a wide berth. All of the hedgehogs come down to the water for a drink, carefully leaning over the edge of the tray and drinking. Not Twearly - he like to paddle as well, although he did have a good snack first: