Some of my more stoic readers may remember I wrote a post about autumn juvenile hedgehogs back in October. The three of them spent the winter being cared for by a wildlife rescue, where they were wormed and generally cosseted. They came back to me on 10th April 2017.
As one of them was still under 600g it was considered too underweight for immediate release, so I agreed to keep it in a pen and weigh every day to make sure that it could gain weight. I put all three in the pen initially, so they could get used to the noises and smells of the garden again. Unfortunately the UK was then hit with an icy blast which meant finding natural food may have proved difficult for them. So they ended up staying longer than I had originally intended.
I had bought a sturdy hedgehog house for these hogs to stay in pre-release. I was lucky to get it while it was on special offer, the details are here. Normally hedgehogs are solitary, but these three were siblings who had been kept together all winter. The pen I made was not really ideal for long term use (rabbit runs are recommended). I had some panels which were used many years ago as a pen for Eddie the cat when he was confined after surgery. The gaps were too wide for hedgehogs, so I covered each panel with metal wire to make the gaps no more than 2cm. The panels were wired together, overlapping so there were no spaces to squeeze through.
The pen was placed in the ruins of our old greenhouse, so there was some protection afforded by the three short walls and the back of the house. I placed stones around the outside to deter tunnelling out. Although the base is concrete there is a layer of earth which might have been enough for them to dig through. I placed conifer branches over the top and end of one half to give protection from wind, rain and sun. The lid was initially just fastened with velcro. They even had their own log to clamber over.
I had been warned that hedgehogs could climb. Indeed, that first night one of them climbed to the top and managed to push open the lid; the velcro wasn’t strong enough. Using more garden wire and some bulldog clips the lid was clamped down tighter. Houdini hedgehog was thwarted.
The B&B was open to guests. Meet Hans.
And underweight Hérisson.
As well as fresh water, changed about 3 times each night, they were given dry and wet poultry flavoured cat food, mealworms and a few sultanas and peanuts.
I shall let you know how they got on in Part Two.