Throughout November I have been using a trail camera borrowed from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, for whom I volunteer. I have recorded over 120 clips each one 30 seconds in duration. These recordings are helping a project being conducted by the trust with Ali North at the helm to make Ipswich the most hedgehog friendly town/city in Britain.
I asked to borrow a camera at the end of October when my father discovered small foot prints in the mud surrounding our pond. They looked like hedgehog print with a rouge cat print as well. Ali agreed to let me use one of the trusts trail cameras to capture some of the action.
We got confirmation after the first nights recording on the 1st November.
Now we had it confirmed that hedgehogs were indeed visiting the garden we immediately began putting out food in the form of dried hedgehog mix and meal worms. The footage we captured after this was also surprising.
In the nights that followed not only did we have hedgehogs visiting the garden but we had domestic cats drinking from the pond. At times the cats and hedgehogs coming face-to-face with one another. The interaction was incredible with neither animal particularly concerned that the other was there.
One of the cats we recognised as being our resident ‘Frog Fondler’. It will sit at the edge of the pond waiting for a frog to hop in or out only to then chase it.
Later in the month, something odd happened. I had to watch the clip a few times before I realised what I was watching. This second hog was considerably smaller than the other when we eventually got a clip of them together. I continued to watch the clips making a mental note of the times they were visiting the garden.
One night I decided to use the red light function on my head torch to see if I could get close to them whilst they were in the garden. While eating the meal worms scattered around the pond, I was able to get within 2 feet (60 cm) of the animals.
After physically seeing the size difference between them I decided that I needed to weight the smaller one to see if it had a chance of surviving this winter. A healthy adult hedgehog needs to weight roughly 400g if it is to hibernate successfully through the British winter months. I got an old tea towel and slowly placed it in front of the hogs face and over its body. This calms the animal down and instinctively causes it to roll up.
I had handled live hedgehogs before and knew of the correct way in which to hold them please do not attempt to pick up a hedgehog unless you think it is in trouble and are wearing thick gloves or have done so before.
The scales tipped to 250g for the weight which is under the recommend weight for a healthy hibernating hog. The hedgehog was placed back into the same spot from which it had been picked up. In fact even going back to the pond to finish off the meal worms that I had left out earlier.
As an avid believer of letting nature take its course I gave this little one a chance to put on the grams in hope that would be able to survive.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society had been ‘tweeting’ about how to look out for hedgehogs in your garden in the final week of having the camera. I asked them the following question;
Upon reading this and talking to my father we went out and bought the bits needed to construct our own feeding station. Once constructed we placed it where we had been placing the food so that the hedgehogs could still go to the same place. Only difference being the food was contained within a structure rather than out in the open. This also meant we could have piece of mind knowing that the food was being eaten by them and not the local cats.
Again, it didn’t take long for the shelters first customer. The little one having no sense of fear was the first to enter with the adult entering a few evenings later.
A full video of all the clips is below for your enjoyment.