Sunday, October 18, 2009

Still too cold

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.

27 comments:

julie Haymaker thompson said...

OMG I loved this post!!!! Just loved it !!! better then flea market finds HMMMM but I do them those too!!

Barry said...

We have ground hogs here, no hedge hogs. Although I've read about them in children's books.

I have no idea they were SO protected.

He is a very cute little guy.

Barbara said...

I had no idea about hedgehogs being protected either....So how do you catch him if you decide you need to? Will he let you, or do you lure him with cat food and promises of a toasty winter?? :p) He's just so darned cute. Great post! And I learned something!

Doreen said...

Soooooooo cute, Renate! Are those prickly spines really sharp? Poor baby...fleas and ticks :( You have many interesting critters around your house. If my cat brought me a bat, I would freak!

sherry ♥ lee said...

You have such a big heart...not you to take any strays to the humane society or somewhere that they care for those hedgehogs who aren't "making it" -- you take them into your home and heart. Am I surprised? No! You are just that type of person and this little guy is just too cute!! I hope he fattens up quickly!!!

As for Socks and the bat...oh geesh!!! Bats I do not like at all!!!

TesoriTrovati said...

What a lucky little hedgie to have stumbled into your garden! I know you will take great care with him the best you can, and that is all you can do. Thanks for sharing your bit of natural inspiration today. Enjoy the day! Erin

PhilipH said...

We have quite a few hedgehogs here in the Scottish Borders. We also have quite a few piles of tree clippings, plenty high enough and just the job for a hedgehog looking for a safe hibernation home. Hedgehogs are the gardeners good friend. They eat slugs, and we love our prickly bundles for that.

Unfortunately, like so many wildlife creatures around and about, many are killed on the roads. Today in fact, as we were driving home from Galashiels to Mellerstain, a family of 5 young pheasants chose to strut across the narrow road just as I drove toward them. I braked hard and just avoided slaughtering them. These are the stupidest of birds and must be how the term 'bird brain' was born.

Esther said...

so cuuuuuuuute!!!

Judy said...

When my son was in 2nd grade they had a hedgehog at school. I never knew they were wild little animals. What a nice post and informative. Keep us posted on the little creature.

mermaiden said...

i knew it was a hedgehog, even though i live in the US. they are oddly adorable critters. i love Mrs Tiggywinkle from Beatrix Potter :D That might have to be your nickname, seeing all the caring you do for them :D

lilylovekin said...

What an interesting post. I had know idea about hedgehogs, I just knew they were cute. Let us know how this little one does.

Rosanne said...

What a sweet little creature. I've seen one up close at a zoo we had gone to. They were letting the children have a peek...so of course this child had to see too!
Hope with you help it makes it through the winter.

sundownbeaddesigns said...

what a cute little critter...that's amazing that they are protected

The Joy of Nesting said...

What a good Auntie you are Renate!! :) If he becomes a winter house guest you will have to keep us updated on how hibernation is going!! Oh my gosh if only iguanas were as easy to catch!! Martha gets call quite often to go rescue an iguana eating flowers in someones yard. If we don't go and get them the older men in the neighborhood will have a big
BBQ :( Oye you haven't lived till you try to wrangle one of them into a cage. Hmm I wonder if maybe your hedgehogs could teach our igaunas how to play dead??? :)

Pattie ;)
Mazatlan Mx.

PS Hermanita, we have a hurricane headed towards us will know better tomorrow how close and how strong. But if I drop off your radar it's because we lost power. :( Other wise I'll keep you posted. p;)

Silke said...

Oh, Renate, I miss seeing the little hedgehogs! They are so cute!! My dad's wife has rescued one or the other and fed them for a while until they were ready to hibernate. They are just so cute... Hugs, Silke

Leslie @ Bei Mondi said...

How sweet to actually see a hedgehog in the wild. You are one lucky girl! He is adorable and I can see why they are protected if they are that easy to catch.

Cindy said...

Hi Renate
What a lucky Hedgehog to come to your home...who would take care of it better than you, someone with a kind heart. He is really adorable!!! Please keep us posted on the little guy.
Oh...sorry about the comment on your other blog..I was blog-confused and was thinking I stopped by here (everything was different). How do you ever find the time to maintain more than one blog?? :-)

diane said...

Oh my .... I have never seen a hedgehog. He is so cute. I think he has found a wonderful home =)
xoxox

Pretty Things said...

That is just too cool for words!

Debbie said...

He's so adorable!

bARE-eYED sUN said...

enjoyed this post. :-)

?are hedgehogs an endangered animal?

..
.ero

Ingrid Dijkers said...

What a lovely story! You are so kind to care fo these charming little creatures as you do.
Best-
Ingrid

SharonP said...

How adorable and who could resist a little ball of spiky fur? Good luck with him, I hope he makes it through the winter with your loving care.

deb did it said...

oh THAT TINY PRECIOUS LITTLE HEDGE HOG, MAKES ME SMILE!!

Deryn Mentock said...

A friend of ours had one for awhile. They're SO adorable! I'd love to see one wander into my backyard but I'll have to move for that to happen!

hint said...

oh my gosh this baby hedgehog is amazing! I always wondered why there are so many illustrations of hedgehogs and it was even an ancient fertility symbol. Now I know why, in real life this hedgehog is irresistable. Thanks for changing my perspective!

Jo said...

Precious! We had so many of them around my college campus, seeing them always brought a smile, especially the babies! I haven't seen any since those long ago days. Thank you for sharing these pics!