Here at Shevdon Manor, we try to encourage the wildlife, not least because we’re in the middle of a town and the wildlife needs all the help it can get.
So this is Henry, or possibly Harriet, we’re not sure, and he (or she) is not normally seen in daytime, but rather heard, rootling about in the flower beds at dusk. However, in a brave moment, or possibly in search of another like-minded but oppositely gendered hedgehog, Henry (or Harriet) appeared on the lawn.
This is probably last year’s hedgehog. They only live two or three years, and need to be about the size of a Christmas pudding by the end of autumn to survive the winter.
They are much maligned creatures and have a reputation of having fleas, which is true, but not any more so than any of the neighborhood cats, and they are specific hedgehog fleas, and don’t bother humans or cats. Sadly, you sometimes see them as roadkill – cars are a major hazard where we are – as the cars run over them and rather than curl up they stand up on their legs and try to run away. They can run quite fast if the want to, but they can’t outrun a car.
They eat mainly slugs and worms, and other invertebrates, and are a friend to gardeners. If you find one, don’t feed them bread or milk – they can’t digest it – but in a dry spell, leaving a saucer of water where they might wander and on a warm day in winter they might be found foraging – a little cat food can be a welcome snack.