There was a little bit of drama this Sunday, when I visited my parents. I arrived to hear the news that they’d found a hedgehog in the garden, hiding behind some bags of bark that they’d recently bought. They’d been feeding him* hedgehog niblets and water, which he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying.
I was a bit disappointed that the hedgehog wasn’t there when I looked, but not too surprised – after all, they’re nocturnal, and he was probably hiding somewhere else in the garden until the evening.
Just after lunch, my dad found the hedgehog stuck behind one of the bushes, and carried him back up to the corner of the garden where the food had been left. I was thrilled to see the little guy (although, to be honest, he wasn’t that little – he was quite a hefty hedgehog), and when my brother came over, I took him straight out to see our visitor.
That was when we realised something was wrong. The hedgehog had come out of the bush where my dad had left him, and was lying in the open, breathing very shallowly. He didn’t try to run away or curl up into a ball, even when my brother got right up next to him.
I don’t know tons about animals, but I do know that if a wild animal doesn’t try to scram at the sight of a human, it’s a very bad sign. I called the RSPCA, who said that they would send someone out to pick the hedgehog up – in the meantime, we had to contain him so he didn’t wander off before help arrived.
I was fairly sure that this hedgehog wasn’t going anywhere, but we found a box for him and left him in the shade, with a little food and some water.
He’d drunk the water by the time I took this pic
We didn’t have a guaranteed time for the RSPCA officer’s arrival, so we got on with our day, and I decided to play a bit of music on my pianola (I’ll have to blog about that some other time – I need to get a few videos sorted first). Apparently, the noise was far too much for the hedgehog, even through double-glazing, because the next thing we knew, he’d got out of the box and wandered into the middle of the lawn, where he was sitting, nibbling a bit of grass and looking thoroughly bewildered.
Back he went into the box, and a short while later, the RSPCA officer arrived. By this time, the hedgehog seemed a bit more sprightly – he curled up when handled, like he was supposed to, and was breathing a bit more normally. Even so, as the RSPCA officer said, the fact that he was out in the daytime and had been wandering about in the open was a clear sign that there was something wrong, so he was taken away to hog hospital for a checkup.
That’s where the story ends, for now – but if he gets better and the RSPCA don’t release him locally to the rescue centre, he’ll be back in my parents’ garden before long. Let’s hope he gets used to the music.
*I don’t like the fact that animals are generally called “him” by default, but in this case, it’s valid – we were told by the RSPCA worker that he was almost definitely male.