Your tales of nurturing hedgehogs in South Bristol
Published on: 29 Sep 2017
Lots of you are looking out for hedghogs after our appeal in the last issue, it seems, writes Alex Morss
The secret antics of night wildlife in local gardens has prompted a flood of funny stories and DIY detective work from Voice readers. Lots of you have been in touch to share your stories of nocturnal visitors, after our hedgehog appeal last issue. Some of you came to share your stories with us at our wildlife corner at the Victoria Park fun day on September 16, where we gave information on the appeal, which asked people to make Hedgehog Highways and report sightings.
I’ve been thrilled to hear about all the efforts so many of you are going to. Readers have been in touch to share stories about what they are doing to help hedgehogs and other wildlife. There is also some impressive nature detective work going on by lots of people. Thank you.
Madhu Anhes and Achalavira Rose of Haverstock Road, Knowle, said: “We had a delightful visit from a hedgehog in July. We think the hedgehog walked into our kitchen and fell down a hole in the floorboards. We thought we had rats! But when we took up the floorboard to investigate, out popped a hedgehog. We fed her up a bit for a couple of days and then released her into the garden where she happily snuffled and moved on to the next garden.
“There is ample natural space for a hedgehog in our garden without a special house. We now have a permanent gap under our back gate which leads into a gated alleyway, so that hedgehogs can come and go.”
John on Frayne Road, Ashton, sent us a beautiful video of a mother hedgehog with her young family of hoglets. John said: “A number of us in our road had a spell of regular visits from hedgehogs over 20 years ago. Our children were young at the time and we made a hedgehog house in which a couple of hogs successfully hibernated.
“Years passed until my wife spotted an adult hog crossing our lawn, early one evening a few weeks ago. There was even better news a day or two later when we found a nest – a mound of leaves and other dried matter in a flowerbed – and realised that a mother was looking after a litter of five hoglets!”
John set up a night vision camera: “Only the mother was active, spending a long time out of the nest feeding on the meal worms and dried cat food we’d put down. She was completely oblivious of the cats which prowled around!”
He added: “On a warm Sunday in mid-August, we were lucky enough to watch the young hogs venture from the nest for the first time, and later that day, we realised that the whole family had gone. We have a gap under our back gate, which opens onto an alleyway, and a friend along our road spotted the young hogs on her lawn a few evenings later – and fed them by hand!
“We’ve put food out every evening and have a regular visitor. One of the young hogs is almost certainly living in the undergrowth at the bottom of our garden.
“We have two young grandchildren and they enjoy putting out the food each evening!”
You can see the video here: https://youtu.be/-wirhIZogrs
Roc and Ruth Walker on Redcatch Road, Knowle, have gone to great lengths to unravel the mystery of their night visitors. A gap under the fence to a back alley is a wildlife gateway for a variety of creatures, but also an irresistible naturalist’s challenge: “We have suspected for some time that a hedgehog has been coming into the garden but had not seen it,” said Roc.
Determined to find out, Roc and his wife Ruth put out cat food, sunflower hearts and chopped apple, and made nightly stakeouts, but without luck.
Each night they offered food, which vanished, but they assumed cats, slugs or birds were eating it. After a few nights, they finally saw a hedgehog visitor.
Then followed elaborate attempts to build a fox-proof and cat-proof hedgehog feeding tunnel, with a night light on top. “The following morning we found the light some 4 metres away and most of the food still there! We reasoned that a fox must have removed the light,” said Roc.
“I rigged up a security light with PIR detector. There were two visits by hedgehogs, also a fox actually on top of the hog house! Hay has been moved and piled up along one side of the house. We wondered if hogs are thinking of making a nest to over-winter. We’re both pretty excited about the results so far.”
Phil on Sylvia Avenue revealed: “We have been feeding ours for about six years. We have seen one or two come and go in that time but get visits from three to four every night. I have made a tunnel feeding station and wooden hibernation boxes under logs. I have cut a hole in the fence that backs on to a lane to encourage them to mobilise!”
Emma Smith on Highbury Road, Bedminster, sent us photos of her hedgehog’s night time strolls and said: “In the last few months we’ve had a hedgehog make a few visits at night. I’ve not seen him but my husband has watched him. We’ve left food out, but I’m not sure if he’s eaten any.
Hopefully he’ll keep coming back and one day I might actually see him, and any friends he might bring!”
Sarah on Windmill Hill has offered to foster rescue hedgehogs during rehabilitation, via a local charity, after getting in touch with the Voice.
Like many people, she has walls which mean hogs can’t get into her garden, but this is another way to help. “I’ll help any way I can for all wildlife,” Sarah said. “We don’t use any pesticides and we have a wild patch of garden so hedgehogs would feel right at home.”
Yvonne Cox at Bristol-based Hedgehog Rescue said the response to the Voice appeal was “amazing”. She said Sarah’s offer was generous: “We often need totally enclosed gardens for overwintering hedgehogs, or as a permanent garden for a disabled hedgehog that can’t be released back into the wild. But they do need to be completely enclosed. Hogs can get under fences, climb horizontally-slatted fences and dry stone walls. Thank you.”