September 6, 2013

THE TALE OF HARRY THE HEDGEHOG

The weather here in France has been glorious almost every day of the three weeks we have been here.  This means that virtually every night we have eaten dinner on the terrace and sat out under the stars.

At dusk the swallows have been swirling above the rooftops of the village.  When they have gone to bed the Grand-Pressigny bat formation team has come out to entertain us.

Each evening we have been lighting candles and enjoying being able to sit outdoors until bedtime.  After the first couple of nights here we became aware that we had a visitor.

Harry3

Lulu spotted him first of course.  She was fascinated by something in the corner of the garden and then we became aware of a rustling of leaves every night after dark.  It was a hedgehog.  So we called him Harry.

Harry4

Each night he would make his way from the furthest corner of our little garden, walk under the bench, around the bottom of the hedge, then dash across the path, under the gate, along the passage and into the courtyard. 

Harry5

From there we assumed he went up to the château to do whatever hedgehogs do at night.  Presumably at some time before dawn he made the return journey because the next night the rustling of leaves would announce his appearance and he would do it all over again.

Then one day the inevitable happened.

As I walked Lulu up to the château one morning there was a evidence of some vehicular encounter with a hedgehog on the road and a very dead hedgehog was upside down on the wall.  Presumably someone had placed him there because he was still alive after the mishap, or maybe to avoid him being squashed by other traffic, which was thoughtful.  Although his remains are still there a week later, which in all this heat is not a pretty sight.  I will spare you the details.

The question is – was it our Harry?  He was a long way from home if it was.

Well, without a doubt, it was.  Although Lulu has been standing guard over the garden every evening there have been no further rustlings or appearances of Harry. 

Until yesterday morning.

 Harry2

At about 11am Lulu got excited about something in the garden and Nick investigated to find not one, not two, but three little hedgehogs shuffling around.

So maybe our Harry was actually a Harriet and the babies were no doubt wondering where their mum was.

Harry1

So with a little help from Google, Nick put down a dish of water and some crushed dog biscuits.  Within moments they were tucking in.

We were due out for lunch so we erected a temporary barrier to keep them safe from the curiosity of one large and very excited poodle, comprising garden benches and tables.  Plus an old tile wedged to give them privacy when eating and drinking.

In the evening we put out a little dish of tinned dog food and this morning I am pleased to say most of it has gone. 

We are thrilled to have the responsibility of raising three little orphaned hedgehogs although how they will get on when we go back home is a worry.  If anyone has any advice on how to help our little babies into the big wide world, it would be gratefully received !!

10 comments:

  1. You could always take them with you. But I guess their immigration papers aren't in order and without a mum to certify their identity it may proof difficult. Maybe your, neighbour Mme André, can be their foster mum while you're in the UK. I hope they'll grown into nice strong hedgehogs! Good luck to them! Martine

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  2. So glad you've been able to care for them. Unlike some other visitors that dig tunnels and eat everything growing, hedge hogs are a great garden guest. They eat slugs and snails and other pests. I just read that by 5 or 6 weeks they can fend for themselves. From your photo I think they would have to be well over 3 weeks. (But I've simply been looking online.)

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  3. Sorry to hear about Harriet. When we last spoke you thought the dead hedgehog might be harry but weren't completely sure.

    Good news that you've found her offspring. I don't know how close they are to being able to fend for themselves so all I can suggest is that you perhaps ask some locals like Alex and Nicole or Tim and Pauline to have them.

    Good luck tomorrow!

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  4. Try some small worms, slugs or snails . If they're hungry they eat. Maybe just some crushed dog biscuits put out in your garden by some friend just for a couple of weeks will do the job.

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  5. They'll be welcome here -plenty of slugs and snails! As long as they stick to the riverbank, they should be safe. According to Tim's book they are weaned at 4 to 6 weeks so if they're tucking into solids they should do ok. P.

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  6. They are a rarity in these parts now

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  7. I would love to have them but I am sure Tim would do a better job than we would. A sad story but hopefully a happy ending. Have a good day Diane

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  8. I've always been fond of hedge pigs, as I used to call'em.

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  9. Aaah, bless 'em. I have no knowledge of hedgehog parenting but your other commenters seem to have some sensible advice.

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  10. Poor Harry/Harriet. :-( It sounds like the babies are close to being able to fend for themselves. if you keep topping up what they manage to forage until you leave, they should cope. After all they'll be hibernating during the worst of the winter.

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