Thursday, October 08, 2009

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.



At October 08, 2009 2:22 p.m., Blogger Lynda said...

Adorable! I love hedgehogs.. and feel so sad when I see one has played chicken with the traffic and lost. Can't quite believe that you are making them scrambled eggs!! LOL Very impressive.

At October 08, 2009 2:23 p.m., Blogger Alison said...

AW! They are adorable. You're lucky to have such cute visitors!

At October 08, 2009 2:24 p.m., Blogger Maria said...

So so so adorable! This post makes me want to hop on a plane to Germany, so I can see your hedgehogs! :)

At October 08, 2009 2:40 p.m., Blogger Thimbleanna said...

Oh. How. Cool!!! How on earth did you ever figure that they like scrambled eggs? And do you see them "out" and then run and make them? Or are they always around and as soon as you put the eggs down, they pull up to the bar? Did you see all six at one time? Holy Cow -- this would be SO fun! We're going to have to call you Mama Hedgehog!

At October 08, 2009 2:42 p.m., Blogger Frau said...

Such cute little creatures, we only have frogs in our garden.

At October 08, 2009 5:59 p.m., Blogger Silvia said...

Ach wie niedlich!
I'd like to see one in real, never have. Right now there are so many blogs writing about them and showing off their pictures.:)

At October 08, 2009 7:32 p.m., Blogger C N Heidelberg said...

So CUTE!!!!!

At October 09, 2009 6:46 a.m., Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Aww. Aren't they cuties?? We had a few vising us last year, too. Dale had to share his dry food with them, of course, but he didn't seem to mind. Our favorite, we called "Buddy", would literally eat out of our hand. He also came to ask for food! He's push the empty bowl around on the terrasse to get our attention. He was so funny!

At October 09, 2009 3:04 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG!! So cute :)

At October 10, 2009 5:55 a.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Those are the cutest photos and such a great story...

At October 10, 2009 2:50 p.m., Anonymous Dave said...

I usually don't go for cuteness. I'm a guy, after all. But this takes the cake... maybe you can start a new site, "icanhashedgehog?" Excellent wildlife pics!

At October 10, 2009 9:10 p.m., Anonymous Jennifer said...

Adorable. We just saw a hedgehog on Tuesday, but haven't seen him (??) again since. But I'm hoping it'll stick around.

At October 10, 2009 11:27 p.m., Blogger *Ulrike* said...

They are soooo cute!!!! I would be feeding them too! We don't have any over here, but I did bring back a little miniature one last year to sit on my desk.

At October 11, 2009 8:08 p.m., Anonymous Lisa said...

Can't believe this. People treat them like pets all over the place here. Maybe I've just got to get close enough to have Teh Cute rub off on me and all will be revealed. But the quills, people, the quills. Do they not stick you when you pets them? I like my fingers and have grown quite attached to the way they look and feel without holes.

At October 12, 2009 5:05 p.m., Blogger swenglishexpat said...

High cuteness factor! We have some in our garden too, and last week I saw two little ones at dusk. They were helping keeping clean and tidy under the bird feeders. Very useful they are.

At October 12, 2009 6:01 p.m., Blogger R. Duckie said...

Those are soooo cute, I would love to see real live hegehogs, especially babies!

At October 12, 2009 9:51 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

Awwwww. So cute, Christina. So what happens to them between now and spring? Do they hibernate????

At October 12, 2009 11:23 p.m., Blogger Pardon My French said...

I've only seen one (live) hedgehog since I've been here. I would love to have my very own, but my yard is waaaaayyyy too small for them. Having said that, there is something that keeps digging up my snowdrop bulbs and I wouldn't be as mad about that if I knew it were a hedgehog. They seem so exotic compared to possums and skunks.

At October 13, 2009 11:53 a.m., Blogger christina said...

Lynda - Yes, it's awful when you see them run over. Hopefully these ones will stay safe.

Alison - I could just sit and watch them for hours, they're such interesting little creatures.

Maria - I know! We're so lucky to have them here.

Thimbleanna - I read about the scrambled eggs on a hedgehog message board. Some people keep certain kinds as pets and apparently they love eggs in any form. We did see six at once, but now we're only seeing three or four at a time.

Frau - They're supposed to come out only at night, so you might have some after all.

Silvia - It seems to vary from year to year and region to region. They're all over the place this year.

CNHeidelberg - I know! You should see them waddling around.

CanSwiss - They seem to get along really well with cats. A couple of neighbour kitties come by from time to time and they just sniff each other and keep on eating.

Wiffette - Yes, they are really adorable.

Expat - Thanks. It's really hard to get good pictures because they're so shy, and pretty fast for hedgehogs.

Dave - Thanks! Yeah, maybe a LOLHedgehogs site would go over well.

Jennifer - If you leave out a bit of food he'll probably come back. They seem to have terrible eyesight but can smell a cat kibble a mile away.

Ulrike - It's weird that there aren't any in N. America, just those big scary porcupines.

Lisa - No way I'm petting these guys. They have fleas and lice and salmonella I've been told. Some people do keep them as pets, but they need to be de-loused first. I did touch a little guy on the back and the quills were really soft.

swenglishexpat - They're like little vacuums just sucking up everything in their way! They just love the compost heap and sit right on top munching away.

R Duckie - They have their own little personalties and everything. And the little tiny legs just kill me every time.

Ginnie - Yes, they're supposed to start hibernating by the end of November depending on the weather, but they have to reach a certain weight first or they'll die while they're sleeping. People often take in sick or underweight hedgehogs (born very late in the year, for example),in fall and look after them. Those ones don't hibernate and need regular feedings.

Pardon my French - You never know, you might just have one in your garden one of these days. I think the things that dig up the bulbs are voles. My mother-in-law has those in her garden and they chew on *everything*.

At October 31, 2009 12:59 a.m., Blogger Rositta said...

The first time I saw one was last year in Germany. Your right, they are adorable and too bad we don't have any in Canada, sigh...ciao

At November 13, 2009 12:16 a.m., Blogger CaliforniaKat said...

I'm always afraid to visit your blog when I'm hungry; the reason should be obvious. Thank goodness these are so cute, I don't want to eat them in the least. LOL.

Thanks for sharing them with us. Where I live now isn't pet/animal-friendly, so unfortunately I'll never see these cuties anywhere near my home.

At November 17, 2009 6:23 a.m., Blogger Pam said...

Oh. My. God. Those hedgehogs are SO CUTE I CAN'T STAND IT.



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