My daughter Bethany and I were nearly home after a walk. We saw a little something by the side of the road. It was a hedgehog. I have never seen a live hedgehog in the wild before. It was cute, but bigger than I imagined. It was bleeding a little and obviously not doing well because it was out in the middle of the day. I wasn’t sure how badly it was injured, and thought that it might die soon. But I couldn’t just leave it there to die, alone on the side of a road. I checked with Bethany if it would be ok to take him home, with the understanding that he might not live long. She agreed.
I picked him up carefully and found that his spikes don’t hurt at all. He was very calm. I got some blood on my shirt, but it’s old so I didn’t mind.
We made a little cardboard house for him in the garden, with a door so that he could get out. The kids found slugs and earthworms for him to eat, but he just slept for the first few hours. Suddenly he woke up, gobbled down the treats and started to dig up and root around in a patch of earth.
It was wonderful to see a wild animal close up. He has a long nose that he uses to look for worms, and a little tail. His body shape is similar to a guinea-pig, just with spikes and slightly longer legs. He has big ears like a cavy too.
He had stopped bleeding but I noticed that the right side of his face was a little squashed. He couldn’t see out of his right eye, but it hadn’t been cut.
I’m not sure how he was injured: a car would have finished him off and a lawn mower probably would have made a much bigger cut. Perhaps a small dog or cat got hold of him? Or a bike rode into him? That would fit the injuries a bit better.
We named him Spike.
He slept some more and then woke up just before sunset. He seemed ok and was touring the garden, but I still wasn’t sure if he would last the night. There is a small gap under our side gate that is big enough for him to squeeze under, so he did have the option of leaving our garden in the night if he wanted to.
I heard him at about 3 in the morning, looking for food noisily. The next morning, we looked for him but he wasn’t to be found. I said that he must have gone back home during the night and was probably fine. Bethany was sad, and I was too. He wasn’t a pet, but we liked him.
A couple of hours later, Bethany shouted excitedly “There’s Spike!”
He was patrolling the garden busily. It looked like he was on a mission. He seemed full of beans, and Connor saw him catch a slug in the bushes and then eat it. But he walked into our feet a couple of times, which isn’t right for a wild animal. I wondered how well he could see out of his good eye. And shouldn’t we humans smell strong to him? I wondered if the accident had caused some head trauma.
We didn’t want to let him go back to the wild if he wasn’t well, even though he seemed fine. I found a phone number for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which I had not heard of before.
The BHPS has resources that help you to help hedgehogs. You can make a hole at the bottom of your fence to allow them to travel more easily and safely (away from roads); instructions on how to build a hedgehog house and a photo gallery where you can upload your hedgehog photos, amongst other things.
Anyway, the Hedgehog Preservation Society referred me to the RSPCA. The RSPCA took Spike’s details: his injuries and how I found him: not his allergies, date of birth and surname. I don’t know that. They asked if we would be able to take him to a local vet. I agreed and they gave me a reference number to pass onto the vet. That would have his recent medical history, so we wouldn’t have to explain everything to the vet.
They said to put him into a box that he couldn’t escape from and take him to the vet when we could.
I phoned the vet to confirm that we would be dropping him off soon.
At the vet, we put his box outside and let them know that he had arrived. We didn’t even have to go inside the building, which is good as we are still shielding. The lady on reception picked him up and took him inside.
Goodbye Spike. It was lovely to meet you. Get well soon.