Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hoglet Watch 2011: The Hoglet Diaries part 1

You might remember last Autumn we went hedgehog mad and gave you updates about the baby hedgehogs, or 'hoglets' that Hubble & Hattie director, Jude, looked after in her home and garden.
Well it's that time of year again, and Jude's got another batch of hoglets to care for this year! Follow the Hoglet Diaries here at the H&H blog to find out how they're getting on!

Lodgers at Winkle Cottage

The one that got away...

'Back in early July I had a call from a lady who had found four very young hoglets, whose mother she believed had been killed in the road. When she brought them to me in a big green crate, I found they were very young indeed, probably 4-5 weeks. Even so, they seemed in good condition, possibly because their mother had only recently been killed. The runt of the litter was considerably smaller than her siblings, and much less active. She took some food that evening, however, so I was reasonably optimistic. 

'I settled all of them in the crate after adding newspaper and hay to make a warm bed, plus, of course, water and food. My dog, Imani (Immie), is always extremely interested in our temporary lodgers and will stand, fascinated, over whatever receptacle they are in and just watch them. 

'The next morning I was saddened to find that littl'un hadn't made it through the night. When I picked up each hoglet to check them over, she was  at the bottom of the pile, and I feel she may well have suffocated beneath her siblings. Poor little thing. I weighed the remaining three hoglets and noted the date; from now on, weighing would need to be done on a regular basis, to ensure that each was gaining the weight that they needed to. I also sexed the babies: two girls and a boy. Weights ranged from 110 to 138 grams; they'd need to be at least 500grams before release could be considered. 
'Hedgehogs are incredibly messy animals, who take particular delight, it seems, in using their food and water bowls as toilets. And in this respect, they're also quite smelly, which may be due to the fact that they are fed cat food usually. Having three in a crate meant that a clean-out every day was a must, especially as they were residing in my dining room! I usually did this each evening when I got home from work, just before they were up and about, looking for their supper, as it meant that I could lay out a couple sheets of newspaper and transfer the hogs onto this in their nest of hay, allowing me to wash out, dry and re-prepare their crate. Each time, Immie would sit as close as possible to the bundle of hay, watching intently for any sign of activity. 
'Once reinstated in their clean home, I would prepare supper for them. Cat food, or some of the organic chicken that I give Imani, would comprise the bulk of the food, with maybe a little scrambled egg or mashed banana. I was always concerned that each got enough to eat so would usually put the food in two servings at the end of the crate, together with fresh water.  
'An important point with rearing hedgehogs that are intended to return to their natural habitat (which, of course, should always be the case if possible) is not to let them become too familiar with people, and this means handling them as little as possible. They are not pets and will only truly be happy if allowed to live their lives as nature intended, even if this means that they have to take their chances out there in the big, wide world.

'Life for the hoglets continued in this way for a further week or so, and they steadily gained weight and strength.

'Then I got a call from the local vet: could I take in another homeless hog ...?'

Next month: And then there were four!

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