and the cat in the tunnel
Greetings from the unspoken garden where we have enjoyed another winter of hedgehog sitting. We care for recovering hedgehogs in conjunction with a recognised Hedgehog Rescue Centre a few miles away. By ‘we’ I mean mostly the Secret Gardener. She feeds a hedgehog in a hutch until such time it is sufficiently heavy to face a life of foraging in the wild.
We normally return the hog to the Rescue Centre so that it can be released in the area in which it was found, but this time the home precinct was not known and we were given permission to release our latest resident – ‘Crissy’ – into the unspoken garden. It was a bit like dropping the kids off at university for the first time. Would she cope? Would she find the right kind of company? Would she ever visit us again?
We’d not looked after a hog during its hibernation period prior to caring for Crissy. She’d been with us since early December, and despite some very cold weather had been nocturnally active for most of that month. She entered torpor during the festive season and didn’t really revive until the middle of March. It was slightly concerning for us – a bit like when you first put a child in its own bedroom. Every week or so, we checked just to see that she was still breathing. (We checked our children more frequently than that.) Once Crissy had restored her nightly feasting routine it only took a couple of weeks for her to reach her target weight of eight hundred grams for us to obtain liberation permission.
The Secret Gardener invested in a wildlife trail camera and so we have been able to monitor the nightly comings and goings following the release. The problem is, one hedgehog looks very much like any other, especially when viewed on night vision footage. We can’t be sure that the hog seen visiting our ‘crawl through’ takeaway station is our former guest or not. Hence my coining of the phrase Hoe-digger’s Hog as a nod to Schrodinger’s Cat, an imaginary feline in a box in a quantum theory thought experiment. The cat may be fine or not fine at all – but we don’t know unless we look in the box. In our experiment we could see that the hog was fine, we just didn’t know which hog it was.
The departure lounge
We care for our underweight hogs in a good-sized bespoke hutch inside one of our garden sheds, but we also created a smaller release hutch into which we placed Crissy on her freedom night. We continued to put a little of her favourite food in there to supplement her diet while she adjusted to fending for herself. It also works as a means of us checking if she is ok – if it is her.
One problem is that other hogs and other carnivores may avail themselves of a free midnight feast. Bearing in mind Crissy was fattened on kitten food, cat burglars cannot resist the temptation. Our departure lounge box was based on a hedgehog shelter design, the like of which you can easily find on the internet. The entrance tunnel at first failed to keep the neighbourhood cats at bay.
The solution is to include corners. The simplest way of doing this, we found, was to cut an opening in the side of the tunnel and block off the in-line entrance. The cats don’t even bother to try now.
At least one hog is visiting us nearly every night, but we think there may two or more in the vicinity. We hope so, after all, it’s the time of year for hogs to make friends. . . carefully.
2 thoughts on “Hoe-digger’s Hog”
How lovely to read of your hedgehog experiences. I love the poor little critters and they definitely need all the help they can get from kind folks like yourselves.
Thank you for taking the time and effort to care for the hoggies 😊💓
Thanks, Helen. Very much echo your sentiments.