Does anyone know what this prickly thing is????
Well, most of you live in North America, so you wouldn't recognize it - it is a hedgehog! More particularly, it is a baby hedgehog.
He doesn't want to get too close to me.
He is still very small. That is not good in the light of this cold weather. Hedgehogs hibernate in the winter. This means they have to have a good store of body fat to carry them through the winter. They eat insects, slugs, frogs, toads and will also eat young mice, eggs or birds, if they come across them. They have very sharp teeth (believe me!) and are protected by law in Germany. Their greatest enemy is traffic, as their main protective strategy is to curl up into a very spikey ball and just wait. Or run. They are not necessarily as slow as the fables would have you believe, but they are no match for a car. They are so protected by law, that if you find an injured or sick hedgehog, you are required to take it in and care for it, or to bring it to a humane society or nursing station (people that have made it a personal cause to care for hedgehogs that are in need). However, it is prohibited to keep them as pets. To make it through winter successfully, hedgehogs should weigh about 1 kg when going into hibernation. They wake up considerably lighter.
I didn't weigh this little one, but I don't think he weighs more than 150 g at the most.
Here he is next to a dish of some cat food. You can see how small he still is. Hedgehogs love cat food. In the fall and even sometimes in spring, I find a hedgehog on my doorstep eating out of Casanova's dish. I do often put out a dish for them, so that they will be ready for hibernation.
But in some years, it gets cold too early. Or the young ones are born too late in the season. Then I have to take one of these little guys in. If I'm lucky, the weather will get mild again and after giving him a bit of "catch up", I can let him back out. In other years, I will find a little guy late in November or even in December, that will not make it on his own. So I take him in. I have an used rabbit cage (from the flea market - where else?) that serves as home. A box with lots of paper and tissue to make a nest (they are actually night active), lots of newspaper and wood shavings to soak up their mess and a bowl for water and for food. They behave like pigs, which is probably the reason for the hog in the name. Their digestion is fantastic (yuck!) and they eat like there is no tomorrow. Good thing they love cat food, I always have enough of that. Oh yeah, they are also full of fleas and ticks (make mental note to go get some of that Neem spray)!
I left this little one outside, they are predicting a rise in temperatures for the coming week. But I will be keeping my eyes open. If necessary, I will take him in and feed him until he has the right weight. Maybe even keep him all winter, watching over his hibernation. Wouldn't be the first time.
Honestly, look at that face! How can I help it?
Edited: Barbara was wondering how I would catch him, if necessary. That is the easy part - they just curl up into a ball of spikes, protecting their face and soft underbelly. You put your gloves on and pick them up. I guess this is part of the reason it is illegal to keep them a pets, they are so easy to catch. But most people are not aware of their diet necessities, thinking they are more like rabbits. Which couldn't be further from the truth.
On another note - yesterday evening, Socks caught a bat. Seems she was quite in tune with the Halloween feeling. Talk about what the cat drags in!! Poor little guy!
Sorry, no flea market treasures today. It was raining cats and dogs this morning - which usually means, extremely meager pickings at the flea market. So we stayed home.