Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Getting Comfortable

When we cleaned out the nest boxes a few weeks ago, we put newspaper on the floor, and then quite a lot of straw, along with a fleece blanket. We don't take too much time putting the straw in, as we know the hedgehogs will rearrange it all to their own liking. A few nights ago we saw that the hedgehogs in 9a had moved all the straw in the tunnel and hall into the bedroom, so we put more straw outside. Sure enough, they took some of the straw in.

We saw they were all rearranging the nests, so we put some more straw in each tunnel. 9d tunnel was full, but the little chap in 9d had moved some of it inside. By the time of this video, the tunnel was half empty, and the hedgehog can be seen both pulling the straw in, and carrying some inside in its mouth.

This afternoon the weather changed - it got decidedly windy and was threatening a storm. The hedgehogs in the three occupied nests - 9a, 9c and 9d - all started rearranging the nests. We added some extra straw into all the tunnels, so they could add it as they wanted.

We have decided to call the baby hedgehog with the A on its back "Alfie". It (we still don't know if it's a boy or a girl) still seems very small compared to the others, but it is full of life. At the moment it is spending the day in 9a, but it then gets up and explores and feeds, and has taken to having a couple of hours sleep in 9b. It had a struggle to get in tonight, with all the extra straw we'd put in, but it made it.

We found this lovely capture from 9e, the feeding station. Another hedgie is feeding when in comes Alfie and wants his share of the mealies- so he moves the bowl and climbs in.

9d seems to be settling into a routine - first up, just as it gets dark. A quick sip of water and a nibble of mealies, before heading out through the ATM. Two hours later he's back, straight into bed in 9d for two hours sleep, then up and about.

He mistimed things this morning. He was on the mealie bowl outside 9c when Nightshift got up, and pushed him off the bowl. The poor little chap kept trying to get in, but Nightshift stopped him. In the end he wandered off and came back later.

Nightshift acquired two more distinct marks last night, as can be seen in the video above. They are dark, which is very unusual - they normally acquire light-coloured marks. We don't know what it is, but we think it is something stuck to her.

We always have plenty of water about. There are two small bowls on the patio, and one on the lawn. There are also three large ones on the wall, which serve as bird baths during the day. The one closest the camera is quite a step up. Nightshift has no problems, but the night before last we saw one of the babies trying to reach the water and giving up, so we put an upturned seed tray in front. Here one of the little chaps tests it out.

The water bowl on the lawn is a hedgehog bowl like the ones in front of 9c/9d. We top it up to overflowing every evening and every morning it is almost dry. We must set up a camera to monitor it, to see what is drinking all the water. We can't believe the hedgehogs drink it all - it must be cats.

I went out early this morning, before the starlings came, to check the status of all the bowls, and they were all very low. The hedgehogs are getting very hungry. I suppose they are growing, but I fear it also means that natural food is in short supply. It has been very dry lately, so maybe the insect population is low. I suppose the number of hedgehogs may also have something to do with it. There were five hedgehogs in the garden at the same time tonight, and Nightshift was elsewhere at the time.

She has taken to spending three or four hours at the front, munching then snoozing in the boiler room, then doing the same again. Then she goes home to 9c around 4:30 to 5:00.

They all seem healthy, although we thought we saw a tick on the face of one of them tonight. Lets hope they continue to thrive.

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