the patter of little feet
What a terrible blogger I am. I have an excuse, though. Aside from a weird cold that just won't seem to go away and is making my head feel like Krakatoa before the big bang, I've been really, really busy looking after one of the things I like best about Germany - hedgehogs! And we've got tons of them this year.
This little female was the first one to show up in the evening and sometimes even during the day. That's unusual for a hedgehog since they are nocturnal, but apparently some of them do come out when the sun is shining even if they are not sick or injured. She looked just fine so we let her do her thing.
Isn't she pretty?
We know there are lots of creepy crawlies in the garden for her to eat but just to make sure she gains enough weight to make it through the winter we've been feeding her cat food
from a dog bowl
We have neither a cat nor a dog, so no one is getting his or her nose put out of joint by our new guest.
A couple of weeks ago I spied something small walking around on the grass. A baby! And another one! Six in total and the cutest things you've ever seen.
They definitely needed snacks
nom nom nom, we ♥ scrambled eggs
A mother hedgehog suckles her babies for about 6 weeks, but at 3 1/2 weeks they are developed enough to leave the nest and start learning how to forage for food on their own. The ones we keep seeing are certainly bright eyed and bushy tailed and look very healthy. I've read that it's unlikely that more than four out of a litter will survive but we're hoping for the best and letting nature take its course. As of now, we only see three or four babies at a time. Hopefully they're just eating in shifts!
So what do hedgehogs eat besides scrambled eggs and cat food? Well, they are omnivores and their diet can include all sorts of insects, worms, snails, frogs(!), bird eggs, mushrooms, grass roots and fruit. Sounds like they'll eat just about anything, but please don't give them a bowl of milk. Although they would probably love it, they are lactose intolerant and could get very ill.
I was lucky enough to get close enough to take a few pictures, but hedgehogs are usually shy creatures who will scuttle off as soon as they see someone approaching. It's hilarious to watch them assume what we've come to call the "I can't heeaaar you!" position, tiny nose towards the wall, back towards the supposed enemy, quills up.
As well as being completely adorable, hedgehogs are great as a natural pest control, eating the nasty bugs and leaving the good ones behind.
They've told me what they like best about our garden is:
1) undisturbed piles of leaves, old branches and dark spaces to hide out in
2) a big ol' composts heap teaming with insects and other delicacies
3) a ground-level bird bath to slurp out of
4) a sucker who will make scrambled eggs on demand and spoon feed them if asked nicely
At the rate we're going, we should have the babies fattened up before the first frost. We'd really like to see them emerge in the spring as young adults ready to start their own families.