They can't half shift ! Hedgehogs that is. They lift up that little prickly skirt to reveal two pairs of long-distance legs. This one, was like the Mo Farah of the Erinaceus europaeus olympics, and trying to photograph it without the benefit of a dolly track was quite a challenge.
I was reminded that I ought to post about this particular meeting I'd had a couple of weeks ago, when last night, we had another hedgehog encounter. Driving down a narrow dimly lit lane in town, I first spotted an adult hedgehog running alongside the shadow of the wall, closely followed by a hoglet. With hedgehog numbers struggling, it is always exciting to see these endearing creatures, so we turned around, provided spotlights on the running track and sat and watched. Very soon, three teenagers sat down on the lane and joined in as spectators, enjoying what otherwise might have been an overlooked event. Shortly after, the leanest, meanest adjudicator rocks up to inspect in an inimitable feline style - nose first. Of course, the anticipated outcome of this tete a tete was a recoil in shock, and with this, we had a smug giggle and left them all to it.
A cautious sniff and a recoil in shock was the exact same reaction that mutt had given during the daytime encounter in the park the other week.
In fact, I think this little hoglet was more concerned about finding it's way around than being bothered by all things massive on both two and four legs.
First it started tucking-in to the bag of (well I don't need to explain what) which I had temporarily put to one side to free up a camera hand.
Next it took a shine to my denim-clad knee, which I recoiled pretty smartish before it became a distressed denim-clad knee.
Whilst I and several other passing dog walkers were enjoying this close encounter with the little hoglet, everything was telling me that it felt wrong. Why was I seeing this little fella running around during the daytime? Was it big enough to survive on its own, and was it of sufficient body mass to get through the coming winter?
Not having armed myself with thorn-proof gloves or a box (as of course I always would when out on a walk with mutt!!), and being some way from home, there was not much else I could do, apart from shoo away the nosey, slobbering, passing canines in an attempt to protect our prickly friend. Eventually, the hoglet hurried off into the long grass just as Mrs Tiggywinkle, where I hoped it might be offered some respite from the heat of the sun and the attentions of any more dog-walkers.
On my return home, I checked my concerns about daytime sightings on-line, at both Tiggywinkles and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, where my fears were confirmed.
"Hedgehogs are nocturnal so those out in the day are displaying odd behaviour. Even though they appear lively and are rushing around these hedgehogs probably need rescuing. Once out in the day they can be days away from death. Even when rescued they can seem OK for a day or so and then suddenly collapse and die. So if out in the day whether rushing about or curled up asleep they need rescuing."
I was gutted that I was unable to do anything on this occasion and fear this is one more lost hoglet. However, I now know for the future what needs to be done, thanks to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Should anyone else encounter a similar situation, and are unable to care for the hedgehog themselves, help should be at hand by ringing the Society on 01584 890 801 They will provide the name and number of local volunteers as well as any further advice. Tiggywinkles can also be contacted for assistance on 01844 292292 (24 Hour Emergency Line)
I do so hope that the hedgehog population might see a much needed increase in the years to come, so that the teenagers of the future, and indeed, everyone can continue to enjoy the antics of these animals.