Monday, 22 November 2010

It's not all over...

It's been rather a long time since we updated the blog - 21st June. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it's been rather a busy period at work, and we haven't had the time to keep up with the blog, although we haven't been neglecting the hedgehogs (or the birds) visiting the garden. Things have quietened down a little, so we have been trying to catch up.

We had a busy year with the hedgies, having had two separate batches of four babies, but unlike last year none of them chose to move in to any of the nest boxes. Our record was nine hedgehogs in the garden at the same time - five adults and four babies. We also managed six hedgehogs in residence for a few nights.

Nightshift moved out when she was pregnant, and didn't move back in, and unfortunately we haven't seen her at all since August, so we fear the worst. Lovely Indy also moved out from 9f, apparently pregnant, and we haven't seen her since then, either.

For a long time we only had one resident, "little" Alfie in 9b, although he was rather portly by the time he moved out in September.

Our hedgehogs disappeared very early this year - all but two had disappeared by mid-September. We hope they had simply decided to hibernate early, and that nothing more serious has happened to them. One hedgie was hanging around for another couple of weeks, and the last one disappeared on 18th October. He was busy eating, all the time, so we do believe that he just didn't feel ready to hibernate - all the others had seemed to be well fed.

We did have a rather sad moment - a small hedgehog appeared at the front at the end of August and moved in to 9f. He was a lovely little chap, and seemed to be doing well, going out exploring several times a night, and returning to 9f. He occasionally nipped out during the day to have a snack from the mealie bowl by his front door, before going back to bed.

We christened him Sunshine. Unfortunately, he then went out exploring a few times during the day, and although he appeared to be well he went downhill rapidly. We took him in, and tried to care for him, but the poor little chap didn't make it.

We have been without hedgehogs since 18th October, and thought that was it until next spring. We were away on holiday last week, and hadn't bothered to log in to check the cameras for "action". We were rather surprised when we came home to find the mealie bowl by 9f was completely empty - it was full when we left! We thought it must have been one of the local cats, which has developed a liking for mealies.

Just to be certain, we checked - and found we'd had a hedgie visiting since 17th November, several times a night. The mealie bowl in 9e at the back was also nearly empty, so it seemed that the hedgie was visiting the back as well.

We filled the bowls up last night, and waited - and the little chap arrived at the front about 21:30. We dashed out and made a grab for him, to check him over.

He was in good condition, with no ticks. He was also a nice, round, shape, which indicates that he hasn't lost much weight. We weighed him - 500g. Not as much as recommended for hibernating, but not too bad, so we decided we would leave him free, as we feel he would rather be roaming than cooped up in a box. We can make sure there is plenty of food for him, so hopefully he will put on more weight. We're a little concerned as we've seen the weather forecast is saying we may have snow later in the week, but at the moment we'll keep an eye on him.

We put a blob of emulsion on his back so we can identify him, and make sure we don't have two (or more) hedgehogs about.

We don't know where he came from. We wonder if he was hibernating and has woken up, since there definitely haven't been any hedgehogs around for the last month. We don't think he was one of our regulars, as they were quite a bit heavier the last time we saw them, and they weren't visiting the front.

It shows that you do need to leave food and water around at all times. We hadn't left so much out, as we didn't expect very much to be eaten while we were away for the week, but we were lucky as he only emptied the bowl the night before we came back.