H2O and Hedgehogs…

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It was a morning much as any other, a couple of years ago. I’d spent a largely sleepless night, and after my first cup of tea, I went outside for the first cigarette of the day. I stuck the cigarette in my mouth and applied the lighter to the tip and as it burst into devilish light, I drew the smoke into my lungs, feeling instantly better and enlivened enough to have a look round the garden.

I meandered past the sweet peas, pondered upon the honeysuckle and stopped to look at a rose bush that seemed a little off-colour. I glanced to my right and saw a hedgehog in the pond. I rewound my mental tape and thought: “Yes, there is a hedgehog in the pond. I wonder what it’s doing in there. Perhaps it was thirsty…” I finished my assessment of the rosebush and looked towards the pond again. Yep, it was still there. I should have been a little quicker on the uptake really…

“OH MY GOD! THE HEDGEHOG!” My early morning brain sharpened instantly as I realised of course a hedgehog had no business being in the pond and I needed to rescue it at once. Not stopping to think about the practicalities, I rushed towards the pond, intent upon saving the poor little creature.

Arriving at the side of the pond, I looked down at the hedgehog. It was huddled miserably on a rock near the water feature my partner had lovingly installed to create some interest for his precious fish. It looked up at me. I was enchanted by the little dog-like snout and wet black nose, its little beady brown eyes that were glaring up at me in a positively threatening manner.

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“You wait. Just you wait. Gonna have the authorities on you. Just you wait and see.”

I reached out to pick it up and at once, in as far as it was able, given it was a rather large hedgehog on a rock about the size of a paperback book, rolled itself up in a distinctly unapproachable way.

“Ohh…I’d forgotten that they could do that…”

I’m not at my best in the mornings until I’ve had at least two cups of tea. I couldn’t help but admire the colouring of this mini porcupine, quills banded with dark yellow, brown and black; but I retreated to the house for gloves and a thick tea towel, and a receptacle to place the angry animal in once I’d hopefully rescued it.

Armed with these items, I returned to the pond, where the hedgehog had unrolled itself and was glowering resentfully around its surroundings. Obviously it had been drawn by the sound of running water and had fancied a drink.. not a bath…I folded my tea towel in half and carefully draped it over the hedgehog. It was a large creature, about the size of a hedgehog shaped rugby ball and I was completely unprepared for how heavy it was…or how strong.

It gripped the sides of the rock with the ferocity of a bear, dextrous fingers and toes curled under the edges with grim determination. It hissed, then grunted angrily at me. I was surprised, then somewhat affronted…I was trying to help it, there was absolutely no need to be quite so uncooperative and rude! I wrapped the tea towel more firmly around the hedgehog, increased my grip on its sides, braced myself and heaved… It let go of the rock and as I swung it over to the container, I caught a glimpse of a grey, furry tummy, crossly waving paws equipped with long dark claws and a little tail.

I placed it carefully in the box. It looked up at me. I looked back. If I’d been expecting some acknowledgement, perhaps a few words of thanks, I was sadly mistaken. It sneered at me and set to stomping and scuffling around the box. I offered it some ham and a small dish of water-both of these were met with complete and utter disdain:

“Woman, really! Don’t you think I’ve had enough of water and I don’t like honey roast ham…”

I desperately wanted my son to see the hedgehog. Having ascertained it was uninjured if somewhat bad tempered, I rushed upstairs to wake him:

“Quick! Quick, come and see the hedgehog! It was in the pond but I got it out!”

Obviously, my early morning enthusiasm was a little too much for my son, but he is used to being awoken for strange reasons. (“There’s a beetle on the toilet roll! I want to blow my nose!”) He looked up at me from his cosy bed, a little resignedly, and said:

“Are you sure? Have you had your painkillers yet?”

Brushing his disbelief aside, I made him come downstairs to look at the hedgehog.

By now, feeling that the box was preferable to the pond, it had made itself comfortable. There was a large turd in one corner, and obviously feeling better, it had curled up and gone to sleep on the towel. I just knew my son, with his keen interest in Nature, would be enthralled to see this wonderful little creature from the Beatrix Potter tales…

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“Look! Look!”

I pointed enthusiastically at the hedgehog. Disturbed by my voice, it opened an eye, and seeing it had gained another visitor, grunted bad temperedly and re-rolled itself even tighter, spines sticking out at threatening angles… like a natural version of a sputnik.

However, having had my son see it and photograph it, I decided I really ought to liberate it from the box and send it on its way. We carried it carefully to the bottom of the garden, where there’s a little overgrown patch. Tipping it gently onto the floor, we gathered round expectantly. A little eye appeared, just visible amongst the spines, shortly followed by the rest of its face. We held our breath…would it perhaps snuffle in gratitude, whip a lace cap out of its pocket and put it on its head…No. It shot off with undignified haste, actually, elbowing its way past overgrown brambles and dock leaves to disappear in the dank shadows under a tree.

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I often see it at twilight now, shuffling along in search of worms and slugs. Funnily enough, there was an item on the local news about how hedgehogs are becoming increasingly rarer… perhaps that was why it was so bad tempered!

For Victoria and Gillyflower !

30 thoughts on “H2O and Hedgehogs…

      1. We have echidnas – aka spiny anteaters. They have some similar behaviours to hedgehogs, long spikes, and an enormously long tongue they poke into ants nests to scoop up dinner 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I loved reading about Hedgehogs in Enid Blyton’s books but have never seen one in real life till I visited a pet shop in Malaysia with MR EX couple of years ago. He was enthralled about the hedgehog and had wanted to buy it at RM50 which was a steal. He wanted to have the most unique pet in his office. His strategy was to smuggle this fella into his car to pass customs Malaysia and Singapore. I scolded him for even thinking of it as (1) it was illegal to smuggle pets in especially if it was not quarantined and could endanger lives if that fella had any communicable disease (2) I read somewhere that the hedgehog was an endangered species. Obviously the pet shop that sold it was nonchalant about these things. (3) Can a hedgehog be removed from the wild and honestly be his office pet! I refused to speak with him and he had no choice but to walk away with the hedgehog. I was glad I forbade him to do it as some days later, a medical practitioner was fined and jailed for smuggling a hedgehog into the country and when they raided his home, they found more endangered species! It could have been MR EX and the unfortunate accomplice ME, had I foolishly agreed to his act of dumbness!
    Your post is lovely as it shows the fella in its habitat caught in a bad situation where he could have drowned, had you not be up at the oddest hour. I am sure he appreciates you and your son is such a sport to get up at that hour to take a photo of it for you.
    I am glad you rescued it. Good morning and enjoy virtual tea and biscuits. Sorry I am a bit wordy today as this was a good read. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Loved your story! It’s really interesting to hear about animal welfare practices in other countries – you definitely did the right thing by walking away, Mr.Ex could have landed you in a whole heap of trouble.

      There was a big thing here a few years ago about exotic pets – people were acquiring things like caimans and pumas…once they had for a little while they discovered they couldn’t cope and thought they would release the animal back into the wild, much to the detriment of the native species. The classic example is the American mink – although I think they actually escaped from the fur farms…

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  2. Oh, my goodness… Sir Bramble the Roly Poly 🦔 is an attitudinal miniature of his European cousin!

    Thank you, Samantha, for this post. He’s quite a handsome gentleman, your hedgie, even if he is grumpy. (Assuming, of course, it’s a he…. determining the gender of an unhelpful hedgehog can be an adventure in and of its self. 💖

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  3. I have never seen a hedgehog other than on tv or in a book….how exciting! I had to laugh about your son’s response asking if you had taken your painkillers. Sounds like a typical son response to me!
    The most I get to see are rabbits, chickens, etc.

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    1. Lol – like I would hallucinate a hedgehog in the pond….!! It’s quite happily living at the bottom of the garden. We don’t see many rabbits round here, someone told me the soil is too heavy and clay-ey…

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    1. Oh he is – lol – I saw him one evening once, when I was coming in late and I thought “Don’t remember leaving a big scrubbing brush out..” A bit of a surprise when i bent down to pick it up!! 🙂 xx

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  4. Love love love this post Samantha and am filled with fun bumps that you shared it with us all.
    We used to have a family of hedgehogs which lived beneath one of our sheds at our old cottage, back in Worcestershire. One of the ‘hogs would make its way all the way up the garden, along the path and right up to the back door, sniffling and snuffling for whatever might be found. We wondered if perhaps it was water, because there was a drain there …. so we put a large flat dish of water out for it and kept it topped up. Thankfully none of them ever fell in the pond – so I’m grateful for that.

    Well done you for saving it… and for sharing it with your son. (Had to laugh about ‘have you had your pain killers?’ …. bless him. lol)

    I hope he lives a long life in your garden and doesn’t ever take a swim in your pond ever again!
    Sending love ~ Cobs. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good evening, dear Cobs from a snowed on Midlands….it’s doing that fun thing of freezing too so that will be fun for morning…

      I am so pleased you enjoyed the read, we are genuinely blessed to have this hedgehog living in our garden – even if he is scarily grumpy – because as I mentioned they are at a difficult point at the moment. I rescued one last year that was just wandering along lost, poor little thing, had to stick it in my shopping bag and take it to the vet. They are such an iconic part of our wildlife, we have to do our bit to look after them.

      Hope you are having a lovely evening, lots of love to you 🙂 xxx

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      1. That last comment was meant to look like this: L ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ VE hedgehogs, Samantha. C xxx
        (of course, if stupid wasn't on the menu that day, it would have looked like that first time round. siiiigh) lol.

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  5. MOL…he must have had to much water, Samantha, usually they’re not so moody 😀 Glad you could rescue her. We know they can get in the pond and swim, but to get out it another story. When we were living in our former house, Granny saved Hermeline the hedgehog in the Winter, when she was biking and saw the little girl lying on the streets. She was just a little one, just like yours. We also had Herman. He came for several years and brought his girlfurriend two times a year…well, I spare you the details….MOL…We miss them both…I’m a little less than Granny 😀 Extra Pawkiss 🙂 ❤

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    1. Oh what a lovely story – so pleased Granny rescued the hedgehog! I don’t think our hedgehog would go back for a swim… lol…although I am quite sure the fish would welcome the company!

      Hopefully as soon as the weather warms up Mr.Grouchy will resume his regular patrols of the garden!

      Lots of love to you 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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