I have never actively fed hedgehogs, always content with seeing the odd one scoot across my garden in search of food. They have surprisingly long legs under those spines and furry skirt and can cover up to one mile at night and I can believe it having seen them race across the lawn at speed.
Last week however, I was babysitting my neighbour’s hedgehogs whilst they were on holiday. Lucky me! Each night I crept round next door and filled the hedgehog dishes with dried mealworms and Spike hedgehog crunchies. I also made sure that plenty of water was available. I took my camera and sat cross-legged on the patio waiting for them to appear as Wendy said they would, between 9.30 and 10.00pm.
They didn’t let me down and first to appear was Bertie. Apparently he always comes out first, a good 10-15 minutes before the others. He comes from the direction of a shed in the next garden down so I guess that is where he lives. He takes the same route every night, creeping slowly along the back wall making sure there are no threats before running towards the food. It is funny to hear him crunching on the worms and crunchies, clearly enjoying the feast before washing it all down with a drink of water. Bertie doesn’t hang around long and when he has finished, runs back to his shed using the same path he came on only this time much quicker, his little legs speeding along until he disappears under the fence.
Next to arrive is a medium sized hedgehog, this time appearing from the bushes to my right. Again, the same ritual is followed every night. Hedgehogs are obviously creatures of habit. This is good as it means that if you can encourage one to reside in your garden, it is unlikely to move on if he/she is happy enough. I guess this is where regular feeding is an advantage. Would you move from your hotel if you were fed and watered every day?
Whilst eating, a larger hedgehog runs out from the bushes, grunting as she charges into the smaller one and pushes it out of the way! This, I understand is Bramble (the Bully!) By far the largest of the hedgehogs, she starts to eat whilst the smaller one curls up into a ball and waits until she has finished and moved away before braving the food once more. All this is captured on film, except that my camera doesn’t do well in the dark and many of the movies are too dark to show.
I did get some photos though.
I understand that encouraging hedgehogs to stay is beneficial for the garden. They eat slugs, don’t they?
Yes, hedgehogs eat slugs and lots of other creepy crawlies 🙂 and they are just so cute (apart from the fleas and ticks!!!)
Why don’t they eat the fleas and ticks?
Ah, fleas and ticks are not food, but they live on the hedgehogs in often large numbers 😦
That must have been fascinating to watch them come for their nightly dinner. I’ve never really been that close to a hedgehog, other than maybe at a pet store or zoo, so I really enjoyed the photos that you shared. Interesting little creatures.
Thank you. Yes it was fascinating to see. I got to know them quite well after such a short time. I am hoping to encourage some into my garden in due course.