Last night at around 9.30pm I went into the kitchen and noticed that the light in our back garden was on. It’s a motion-activated light, so when it’s on, it usually means that one of the neighbours’ cats has walked by our back door. Very occasionally, it means there is a fox in the garden.
Daisy, our own cat, was with me, and she understands how the light works: if it comes on, she always has a look to see who’s out there. Last night we both stood in the kitchen looking out into the garden, trying to work out why the light had come on. I couldn’t see anything, but Daisy had clearly seen something moving out there, and moved to a different window to get a better view.
From that window, we could see a little bit of movement behind a raised flower bed. It looked small, but I couldn’t get a good enough view to work out what it was. I thought it must be a rabbit, and I started to think about how we would have to catch it and secure it overnight so that we could find out whose pet it was once daylight came. But it wasn’t a rabbit. We saw a little more movement, and eventually it walked quickly across the patio. It was a hedgehog!
We have never seen a hedgehog in our garden before – in fact, I can’t remember ever seeing one in the wild, ever.
At first we were very excited, and we watched the little hedgehog as he trekked back and forth across the patio. Then we started to wonder how he had ended up there, and a bit of worry crept in. Our patio is raised up from the rest of the garden by two or three feet, and we wondered how he would get down into the rest of the garden (or back where he had come from). There are steps, but they seemed altogether too steep for a hedgehog. We put some cat food out for him, and turned off the light so that he would feel safe enough to come and eat it (which he did). And then when he went off to one side of the patio, we snuck out quietly and used a plank of wood to make a ramp down to the lawn, with cat biscuits on it to tempt him to use it.
We watched from the windows as best we could (with the garden still in darkness since we’d turned off the light), and we saw him go over to the ramp, but we never saw him use it. He disappeared off to the side of the garden, and we didn’t see him again. This morning a thorough check of the garden failed to find him, so hopefully he found his way out and onto wherever he was heading.
We had worried a bit as he scuttled around the patio, looking for an exit, as he seemed to be using up a lot of energy. But from the reading I did last night, I learned that hedgehogs can travel several kilometres a night, so hopefully it hasn’t done him any harm – and at least he got a good meal.
Another thing my research turned up was just how much of the globe is home to hedgehogs. I’ve always considered them to be a particularly British animal, but they actually live all over Europe and Asia.
I wonder if we will see him again?