In Part One I explained the background to my having three hedgehogs in a pen in my back garden. Here I shall tell you about the time they spent here.
First we need proper introductions. When they arrived back to me they had been marked with nail varnish which was difficult to see especially from a distance. I was given instructions by my Twitter friend Monique on how to apply tags, she in turn got this information from Toni Bunnell who does a lot of research into hedgehogs. I cut some different colours of electrical sleeving to 1cm lengths, dabbed a spot of superglue inside the top edge of each and slipped them over a spine, taking care not to get any glue on the hedgehog’s skin. Amazingly I managed not to glue myself to a hedgehog.
Daisy, who turned out to be a boy and so is named Daisy-Boy in full, had funky blue.
Underweight female Hérisson got the snazzy green.
While sweet placid big boy Hans was a figure of understatement in brown.
After this I only handled them once a day to weigh them so that they wouldn’t get too used to human contact. I used a wildlife camera (from Aldi) to film and photo them to see what they got up to, being nocturnal animals the footage is in infrared. So here they were, caged but for their own good.
Their first night was very exciting, one of the large free roaming hedgehogs came to visit them. There was a lot of snorting through the bars and the adrenalin caused by the visit started a brief fight inside the pen! You can watch a video I posted on You Tube of it here.
I don’t know what the visitor told them but Daisy decided the grass had more beetles on the other side of the fence. He clambered up and pushed open the lid and scrambled down the ivy. Sadly for Daisy I was checking on them regularly and caught him. Back to prison for the little guy. You can watch his escape here, keep an eye on the right hand side.
While they no doubt had a lot more room and stimulation than when in rescue, there is not much for three hogs about town to do in a small pen. Mostly they ate, drank, scratched, clambered about, slept, ate some more.
Hans ran about the most, Hérisson spent most of her time grumpily huffing at the others and Daisy had the odd habit of falling asleep in the middle of the pen, oblivious to the other two. You can watch a video of their nightly antics here. Although they were far from fond of me I found that I could hold them without gloves as they kept their prickles flat, even when balling up. They are very gentle animals, although they have been known to prickle people and even bite.
There was one other thing that they got up to. Or rather that Hérisson and Hans got up to. Shocking behaviour considering that they are most likely brother and sister, but there was smooching and more going on. Apparently hedgehogs do not reach sexual maturity until their second year, so this was just practice. Hans was very persistent, but Hérisson was often more interested in eating and his advances were really just a nuisance. If you are over 18 you can watch the video here.
After nearly a month of “pre-release” their weights had been increasing, Hérisson was now well over the desired weight, in fact she had overtaken Daisy-Boy. We had also had about a week where the night time temperatures were over 5 degrees Celsius. Time for release? Find out in Part Three.