Hedgehog in the Garden

1st July 2013

Watering Pot

Hot off the blogging press..

…early this morning about 6 a.m. one of the dogs met a hedgehog by the ‘chicken’ water pot and gave a little huff of puzzlement.

I last saw a hedgehog about ten years ago, out in front of my mother-in-law’s old house in Midsomer Norton.  I saw them as a child from time to time, once memorably finding a mother and babies in the field in the middle of the houses where we lived in Surrey. The babies’ prickles were soft, that I do remember, and I remember being told by a neighbour not to touch them because they would be full of fleas. I now know that hedgehog fleas rarely transfer to other animals, including us. We all have our own fleas apparently! I have a friend elsewhere in Bristol, whose home backs on to a railway embankment with a footpath along it and she has hedgehogs and babies every year coming into the garden for food.

Brian's Hedgehog

I know relatively little about them, except that you should not feed them bread and milk but cat food. as my friend Julia does when she has them visiting her home. If you are so inclined or think they need feeding there are organizations that rescue them and advise you on what to do to attract them to your garden and how best to feed them and so on. Here are links to a couple of them in the UK:

Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital


Hedgehog action shot

Hedgehogs can move fast and this one is probably on its way out to a more benign and food rich environment,  though I like the idea that she stopped for a drink on her way and had a good root around in our scruffy corners. Brian tiptoed out with his camera and took these shots catching up with her on her way out, clambering over bricks and spare roof tiles to find the gap in the fence to go next door to M’s where cats get fed on the porch and I suspect maybe she sneaks a few bits of kibble there.

There aren’t many points of access to the garden for someone of this size unless you can climb a fence like a fox or a cat, but under the gates giving on to the street there are gaps and the fence panels are getting a bit ramshackle and warped.  Wildlife sites always ask us to leave our gardens not too tidy, to leave dark and damp corners and a bit of rubbish here and there to provide cover and always leave water out somewhere for anyone passing who might need a drink. Hedgehogs are a good sign of a healthy environment and we should make it a little easier for them not harder.

Hedgehog exploring

LIttle hedgehog I celebrate your bravery in coming into the garden, I would put out food for you, except I don’t want to feed the neighbourhood cats and the dogs would eat it as well and they might get into a scrap with you.

You looked big and healthy and in no need of extra food from me today. I wish you well and a happy and long life and I have told our neighbour to look out for you too! Come back for a drink anytime!

This by the way is not a hedgehog but a Tawashi! Fantastic for gently scrubbing new potatoes and carrots and it doesn’t seem to get mouldy or stinky. I love my tawashi!

not a hedgehog

Footnote :

For those interested in pottery, the pot came from Hookshouse Pottery, Gloucestershire and was made by Christopher White. They have a beautiful garden which they open for the National Garden Scheme to coincide with an exhibition. We went last year, not this. I think the pottery is open throughout the year.

31 thoughts on “Hedgehog in the Garden

  1. Elaine

    Loved the photos. Last saw hedgehogs when I was living with my now husband in Gloucester – we found 3 babies right in the middle of the front lawn. After waiting to see if the mother would return and calling the local rescue centre Kevin took all 3 to the centre. We were later told that all 3 had survived and had been returned to the wild. I was very unsure about disturbing them and it is always a dilemna to know whether to leave wildlife for parents to return or to ‘rescue’. However I am so pleased that those 3 added to the local numbers.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I wonder if it is all those children’s books that we grew up on that make us so benignly disposed to animals like hedgehogs. I really went quite soft and mushy this morning as this one took off clambering over the bricks and squeezing back through the fence. How good to know that yours were returned safely to the wild, I think I would have done the same, rang around and taken advice. The fear is that the parent has been killed somewhere and then the babies won’t survive on their own isn’t it? I am so glad you enjoyed the photos!

      1. Elaine

        Strange that you mention the memories of children’s books as whilst I was typing the message I found myself fondly remembering Mrs Tiggy Winkle and all of the other Beatrix Potter books, that I used to read to the girls as well as reading them myself as a young girl. I see wild rabbits on my drive in to work on the roadside and Peter Rabbit often comes to mind – none seem to leave the safety of the grass verge which is very fortunate.

        1. Joanna Post author

          I veer between being Jemima PuddleDuck and Peter Rabbit – and then there was Pigling Bland, ‘over the hill and a great way off the wind will blow my top knot off’ (I mutter – probably incorrectly – too myself on windy days as I stomp along.)

          I have a theory about those rabbits on the verges and roundabouts, they are the offspring of smarter rabbits who have survived and passed on the knowledge that grass is better than tarmac :) xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      Dusk and dawn are the best times to see them apparently. I have been reading up about them this morning :)

  2. Ann

    How lovely! We have echidnas here instead of hedgehogs. I have one outside my front door – it is a boot scraper but looks very realistic!
    The last time I saw an actual Mrs Tiggy Winkle was many years ago in England – she had her head stuck in an empty crisp packet and was walking up the road inside it. We rescued her and put her in our garden but she was gone by the morning.

    1. Joanna Post author

      That is very funny! A walking crisp bag :) I read this morning that they are great scavengers and eat all sorts of things from slugs to beetles to carrion. I have just never seen one here before and always assumed that our dog escape proof garden would prove a barrier to something that size, but obviously not !

  3. Jan

    I’m sure if you footle around in the bristles of your tawashi you’d find a nose Joanna! Hedgehogs are such appealing little creatures it must have been a thrill to have a close encounter. We had a baby possum in the garden which had come down with some lopped branches. I had it bundled up in a towel and held against me while I rang the wildlife people for help; I could feel my front getting warmer and warmer! Eventually we spotted the mother in the tree and put her baby back on the branches to make its way back to the safety of Mum. They’re such vulnerable little creatures. I love your chicken water pot.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I nearly had a fit when a huge snail climbed to the top of the lettuce mountain in the salad bowl the other day (or maybe it fell off a peony). So a nose in my tawashi would just about finish me off (ROFL) ! Baby possum, you are making me go mushy again.. awww….

      I am not sure what those chicken water pots are called – they must have a name, someone will tell me one of these days. You put them on their side to fill them and the water always stays at a level. Mysterious laws of physics going on in there !

  4. sallybr

    I loved this post, and the photos, but the first photo took my breath away, so much peace, serenity, I just want to sit there and stare at the scene…

    of course, your last photo made me laugh… I might have to get one for me and scare the dogs with it :-)

    hedgehogs are too cute, my youngest stepson, when he was around 12 years old, wanted to get one as a pet, but we thought it was too hard with the dogs around.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Glad you enjoyed it Sally :) I keep looking out the window hoping to see her speeding past again today but I know I probably won’t.

  5. heidiannie

    What a happy visitation!
    I had hoped to see Hedgehog in the wild (or in a back yard) sometime in my life time. My friend had some as pets- she raised them for a while after a really funny wedding ceremony- and I liked seeing and tentatively touching them as they skittered by on the brick floor of her sunroom.
    I have groundhogs, turkeys, rabbits, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, ducks, hawks,frogs, toads and turtles and raccoons all visiting at different times during the year- skunks, too but I’d rather not mention them. Again, Brian took some very wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing, Joanna!

    1. Joanna Post author

      You have so much wonderful wildlife right where you are,Heidi, I am just a little envious, maybe not of the skunks, but even those I would like to see one day. I have seen groundhogs, they are really delightful, sitting by their holes, faces turned to the sun. I tried taking some photos but he has one of those click click click things on his camera, which is how he got the shot of the hedgehog’s little foot. Thanks for reading xx

  6. Sincerely, Emily

    Oh what fun!!!! What a great little visitor. Great photos Brian!!!! and I LOVE LOVE the “chicken” water pot. LOVE LOVE LOVE it, but I loved seeing your little hedgehog visitor also!!

    1. Joanna Post author

      The chicken water pot was made by a potter who opened his garden for the NGS scheme last year. He was a very fine potter and had a beautiful garden and I can’t remember his name right now. It will come back to me. Glad you liked it :)

      I have done my detective and retracking work… His name is Christopher White of Hookshouse Pottery Well worth a visit if anyone is near Westonbirt, Gloucestershire.

  7. Karin Anderson

    How entirely charming! I had visiting mother hedgehogs with their offspring in my old garden in Germany – it was none too tidy, as my mother often reminded me (“neighbors will think that terrorists might live here!”). I had a large pile of cut branches in one corner, and hedgehogs obviously hibernated there. Sometimes I would treat them to a raw egg, or a bit of cat food.
    No hedgehogs here in Maine, only porcupines, and you don’t want your cat or dog sniff at one of those!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Your old garden sounds like the absolutely perfect home for a family of hedgehogs Karin. It was such a pleasure to see this little person this morning, the good feeling has stayed with me all day :)

  8. maree

    Yes hedgehogs love cat food. We are blessed with a family that regularly dine in our girls’ bowls and I mean in, as both bowls are doubles and the “hogs” sit in one and eat, out of the other, what ever Millie and Rosie have left for them. You can always tell when they have been as the girls’ bowls become strangely muddy!! I have a small courtyard and in the summer if you sit there, in the middle of the day, you can hear surprisingly noisy snoring eminating from a big clump of prostrate Rosemary!! So noisy, that at times it distracts, when you a tring to have a quiet read.
    I love Brians photos. Thanks Joanna for sharing.

    1. Joanna Post author

      That sounds hilarious! Snoring hedgehogs! I love it, thank you, I have a little video from a friend of hers drinking noisily. They must be very relaxed and confident around you. How wonderful Maree :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      It is all good fun, we both get enormous pleasure from seeing wildlife, something we have shared from the beginning. I am loving people’s hedgehog tales too, all make me smile :)

  9. hotlyspiced

    I love hedgehogs. They are so gorgeous and utterly harmless. Back in NZ we used to see hedgehogs in our backyard and it was always a thrill. I learned to pat them in the direction of their spikes! I haven’t seen a hedgehog since I moved to Oz in 1977! I’m so glad you captured lovely images of your visitor. I hope she stays for more than one day xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      Maybe the essence of the pleasure is that they are free to come and go. I have no idea whether I will see one here agsin, but I like to think of them roaming about in the dusk. Thanks Charlie xx

  10. narf77

    I love that hedgehogs most determined foot action! It might be a humble hedgehog but it has a whole lot of character doesn’t it :). It reminds me of my daughters dog Qi. She is as determined and approximately the same shape ;). What a beautiful pot…well worth the water even if random hedgehogs don’t turn up on a regular basis :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Narf, I love the foot too! how fummy to have a dog shaped like a hedgehog :) The dogs drink out of the pot too and the blackbird and probably other animal folk who I don’t know about. The water sits up inside the pot keeping cool and refills the little drinking section by itself. I wash it out most days. I read that the Eurasian hedgehog was intoduced to NZ by Acclimatisation Societies and is classed as a pest.

      1. narf77

        I don’t think we have hedgehogs here. We have native echidna’s and they are even more Qi’s shape than hedgehogs. They are bigger than hedgehogs as well. They probably have the same amount of fleas though ;). I love the idea of that pot. It’s a wonderful thing for the neighbourhood animals. We keep 3 birdbaths filled for the local wildlife. In mid summer where water is scarce we get visitations from all over the place.

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