Hattie the Hedgehog's Winter Diary - 25 October 2006
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My name is Hattie and I was born about 6 weeks ago; I am the only surviving baby of a second litter.
I live in Milnathort in a lovely garden, where my mum has lived for most of her life.
As I was born late in the year, mum told me to stay in the garden once I started foraging and that, if I was lucky, a nice hedgehog lady would look after me for the winter.
Apparently, if I didn't reach a particular weight before hibernation, I would go to sleep and never wake up again - as I wouldn't have enough body fat to survive. Bit scary really! Well, today when I was rushing about, not sure where to find food, the lady came out, gently scooped me up and took me to my new house - a big cage lined with newspaper. There was also a lovely fluffy jumper for me to sleep in, with lots of clean water and food nearby!
She (I'll call her Mum 'H' - for human!) powdered me down with something to get rid of any bugs or mites I had picked up - not so bad really! Anyway, must go - I've been up all night exploring the sights, sounds and smells of my new home - it's set in a 'utility room' - whatever that is??!!
Oh, and I weigh 180gms!
I've been really poorly! I am so pleased that Mum H took me in. I've got something called lungworm but the medicine I've been given didn't make me much better. I got very dehydrated and had to go to the vets (Alphavets -who were VERY kind to me!). I was given fluids and antibiotics intravenously and, within a couple of days, I felt much better. I need to take it easy and keep warm, as well as taking more antibiotics. Mum H thinks I don't know…..but she's been putting the antibiotics onto crushed digestive biscuits with honey on top - yum, yum!!!! Mum H does something called Reiki and Crystal Therapy on me - and these are helping me get better too!
I'm now putting on lots of weight and feeling much better! I'm drinking plenty of water and eating hedgehog biscuits as well as tinned kitten food (no milk though, and no gravy, jelly or fish flavoured food). As a special treat, I get sultanas and a wee bit of banana! Mum H puts me out in a run in the garden every morning. Seems she's building up the time I'm outdoors, as well as building up my muscles! She's very kind though, as she doesn't put me out when it's very cold or raining.
I'm now out in my garden run for about half an hour every day. I love to be reminded of the smells of the outdoors! I know that I'll be released into the garden in the spring - when I can get back to eating lots of scrummy slugs, snails and wiggly worms! I've had lots of visitors to see me and enjoy getting wakened up for a wee treat! My Auntie Chris is going to look after me for a few days, when Mum H goes away. Something called 'Christmas' is coming - and everyone seems to be getting very excited about it! I'm still sleeping in cosy jumpers - they've all been donated by people who know Mum H (thank you all!).
Well, I'm getting very big now and I have been out in my run for up to an hour at a time! I've not been out in all the rain and wind, though! I've had a bit more lungworm, so Mum H has been giving me powdered medicine and I'm feeling the benefit of it! Mum H is very pleased with me as I am now (usually!) something called 'cage trained', which makes her life much easier!
I'm pleased to tell you my cough and lungworm has cleared up and I'm feeling a lot better now! I got a bit confused with the really cold weather we had a bit back; I thought it was time for me to hibernate! Mum H said my body temperature had dropped and she was worried, as I wasn't eating as much as I usually do. If only I could have told her! Anyway, she's got some new biscuits (which I prefer to cat meat) and I've been munching plenty of them. My weight has stabilised at 650gms now, so I'm quite healthy really!
Mum H is still warming up my jumpers every morning so that, when I've had my run, I can get cosy very quickly! I still love going outside and think the birds have got used to me running about now! The weather has been lovely and I really like the feel of the moss under my feet; somehow I just know that I'm going to be using that to make my nest in the Spring!
P.S. Don't tell her that I told you but Mum H has just turned 50, and guess what…she got lots of cards with hedgehogs on….wonder why?!!!!!
Well, you'll never guess what I did this month! I went to visit the Portmoak Brownies!
I was quite excited about my trip out; as it was the longest time I'd ever been in a car -
all those strange noises and bumps! I had a good sniff about in the hall and enjoyed meeting the Brownies.
I knew Brown Owl already; she's my Auntie Chris who's looked after me when Mum H has been away.
Anyway, the Brownies were lovely to me and didn't scare me at all. I also secretly suspect that they thought I was very beautiful - in a prickly sort of way?! They were very clever too, as they seemed to know the answers to all the questions that Mum H asked them about hedgehogs! Apparently, I'm now an honorary Brownie - quite an honour!
I also have some very interesting news. Mum H saw a hedgehog in the garden on the 14th March. She was very anxious as this is quite early for my relatives to be waking up from hibernation. She's been putting food and water out, just in case the hedgehog comes back. Mum H was also very thrilled, as she thought it might be Ali B. That's the hedgehog she looked after last winter.
Anyway, I'm going to be visiting lots of interesting places in the next few weeks - so watch out for my diary next month!
As soon as the good weather arrived, Mum H had me outside in my cage - all day sometimes! 'Acclimatising' she called it. I felt quite excited at being back out in my natural environment and would often stick my snout out for a sniff of the warm Spring air!
I've also been out visiting quite a bit and have met some lovely children! I went along to Portmoak and Milnathort Primary Schools, where everyone seemed really pleased to meet me. They were all really good and kept amazingly quiet so as not to scare me; thank you! Mum H told the children all about me, as well as giving them general information about hedgehogs.
I also went along with Mum H to the Fair Break café in Milnathort. She was reading a story that had a hedgehog character in it (not bad really!) and I was making my last 'public appearance'! The children (and adults!) who came along were just great and I was very pleased to meet them all.
When we got back home, Mum H had prepared a special hedgehog box full of crisp leaves and soft moss which she had placed inside a big run. This was my new home which will prepare me for my release back into nature. I am so delighted!
I checked out the run area first - sniffed the tunnel to the box, and shot up there as fast as I could! It reminded me of my (real) Mum's nest when I was a baby. Of course, Mum H hadn't made much of a job of the nest, so I set to work making it really cosy. My first night out was really exciting as I saw another hedgehog! I'm a bit sad really that I'm not going to see as much of Mum H, but she's going to continue getting me ready for my release and I can hear her voice quite often.
May - Hattie's Farewell Blog
My big day came on 2 May - the full moon! Mum H said it was a good time……something about completion of a cycle? She also thought it would be a clear night to watch me go - but it was cloudy (hee, hee!)! Anyway, when I emerged from my box, Mum H was there with her camera, surprise, surprise!
I sniffed the cool night air and sensed that, not only was I in the flower bed, but also the run, which usually surrounded my box, was no longer there... I was free! I took a bit of time to check out my new surroundings. I saw my food and water was nearby but I really wasn't interested in that. The soft, moist earth was much more enticing. I explored the roots of the hostas and found a big, bright, beefy beetle - yum, yum! I was so pleased to be out on my own, even with Mum H watching my every move.
I trotted round the entire garden and then found a wee hole in the fence and from there was able to make my way through the dyke on to the golf course. There is a lovely big tree there, where I've made my very own bed (much better than Mum H's!). I've been coming back into the garden most nights for fresh food and water. I don't have any problem finding my way, as I can hear Mum H shouting on me at dusk... what IS she like?! I also managed to get stuck twice between the fence and dyke. Mum (& Dad) H rescued me both times but I've learned my lesson and won't be doing that again!
So, I am very happy indeed at being back in my natural environment. Thank you everyone who donated woolly jumpers for me, visited me and also those who will be donating to the Wormit Hedgehog Care Centre during Reiki Awareness Week. Oh, and a special thank you to all you lovely school children and Brownies who were so very kind to me!
P.S. If I have babies of my own, I might just tell them about the nice hedgehog lady.....
Wormit Hedgehog Care Centre has a number of hedgehogs that are now fit, healthy and raring to be returned to the wild. They do need a bit of a helping hand, though!
If you think you might be able to help with a supported release of one of these fantastic little creatures by providing a safe space, food, water and a watchful eye, then please get in touch with Sandy Boyd (who runs the centre) on 01382 541311. Also, if you have ever thought about caring for a hedgehog that cannot be returned to the wild, Sandy will be pleased to speak to you about what is involved.