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Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

My family enjoyed watching a hungry hedgehog devouring slugs on our front lawn and my wife was pleased as we have never seen so many slugs this year 2012 because of the wet weather. Hedgehogs are lovely animals and very beneficial eating garden pests like slugs and snails, they will also eat worms and other invertebrates even frogs and birds eggs.  Unfortunately, thousands of hedgehogs die every year from road traffic accidents, how many of us see more dead hedgehogs on the road than live ones. Also, bonfires are a big danger and should be checked any time of the year especially in November as they enter the bonfires looking for somewhere to hibernate, and sadly perish in the fire. I know of one such story which is horrible but should be told as a warning to animal lovers. My son’s friends back garden backs out onto a so-called green belt land on our estate and they built a large bonfire for Guy Fawkes night. The bonfire was well alight when they could hear haunting cries from their fire, they said it was from quite a few Hedgehogs and it sounded like babies screaming. They did try to rescue the poor hedgehogs but it was too late, how can you enjoy fireworks after that.

On a happier note one year some friends had a hedgehog nest in there back garden in Botley, Hampshire, what amazed everybody was the female leaving the helpless babies and going walkabout around the neighbourhood at night. Our friends watching the female cross the road and disappear around the corner. It was always back on the nest during the day. I do not know if this is normal behavior for a hedgehog with young babies but we all thought it was very clever and I would love to have known how far it traveled away from the nest in search of food. Peak breeding season is from May till June and is only a month before the young hedgehogs are ready to join there mother on foraging trips and will stay with her for another two months before they leave the mother will then start another brood. Hedgehogs are surprisingly good swimmers and climbers, just look at those long claws in my picture. If you approach a hedgehog it will try and run away but if you startle one it will instinctively roll into a tight spiny ball as it does to protect itself against predators.

Hedgehogs can be seen from April till October, the rest of time is spent in hibernation.