Hedgie smells terrible. To be more specific, what comes out of Hedgie smells terrible. The little creature is almost like one of those Play-Doh contraptions where you put the dough in, squeeze and sausages in various shapes flow out. In his case, dog meat goes in and nearly instantaneously appears out the other side, only ten times stinkier. How he can produce so much boggles the mind.
I looked it up online, people keep hedgehogs as pets so surely this level of stink and poo can’t be normal. Apparently it is. There is no way Hedgie will be becoming a permanent indoor fixture that’s for sure! He has been relegated to the spare bedroom but the stench creeps from under the door.
I have washed and changed his bedding three times in four days; I clean up his droppings and wipe up his wees about four times a day yet still it reeks. I retch and heave unless I hold my breath or cover my airways.
I have no idea how people keep them as pets, any vague images I had of him becoming part of the family have vanished in a haze of smelly vapours. Once Hedgie has reached his goal weight he will be going to live outside as nature intended where he can stink up the neighbourhood all he likes.
(Hedgehog watch day five)
After adding a new task to my morning routine – replenishing the hedgehog’s bowls with the cat and dog’s food and cleaning up his poo I left Hedgie alone for the day.
When I returned I checked to see if he was still alive. He was burrowed deeply inside his blankets so when I gently moved them to look at him I received an angry snort. Well, at least he was living. Most of the dog meat was gone and he had a go at nibbling on a plum.
That day I purchased a water bottle, like birds and guinea pigs use, a little dish for some pet milk and his own supply of food. Spoiled hedgehog. I then set about making holes in the plastic tub with a screw to hang the bottle, under the curious watch of the dog and cat.
The dog (Tobias) and cat (William) are not really interested in Hedgie, more jealous. Tobias sat on my lap and kept trying to “kiss” me while I struggled to make the holes in the tub. I proudly hung the bottle, and Hedgie’s house was complete. When he didn’t seem to know what to do with the bottle I looked online to see how to train him. I read that they can damage hedgehog teeth and trap tongues. Whoops. That was the end of that.
Hedgie spent the rest of the evening eating the dog meat. He LOVES it, and should be 700 grams in no time if he keeps it up. He was not so successful in drinking his milk (don’t worry I bought the special lactose free pet stuff), it went up his little nose causing him to sneeze it out. I am not sure about his policy of not moving away from his food to do his business. He just stands with his face still in the food and lets rip.
Tomorrow I plan on attempting to create some kind of outdoors enclosure for him so he can get out of the plastic tub. Hedgehog shantytown coming to a garden near you.
(Hedgehog watch day two)
As I was driving home from work yesterday I spotted a very small hedgehog merrily walking down the middle of the road. Thankfully my car is a tip so there was a towel on hand to wrap it in and whisk to safety. I popped him (gender is unknown but I am going with male) still curled in a ball in the towel into my garden and went inside for some dog food.
While he was wolfing down his Pedigree Little Champions homestyle beef, pasta and veges I Googled what to do. He was out in broad daylight so something was up. I found the number for NZ Hedgehog Rescue and left them a message. I then watched the imaginatively named Hedgie as he strolled along the width of the garden into a patch of (the bane of my life) vinelike weed. Hedgie seemed pretty sprightly and had eaten a meal so I headed inside.
NZ Hedgehog Rescue called me back and inquired about his size – just slightly bigger than a tennis ball when curled up. The lady informed me that he was too small to survive on his own and asked if I could take him into the rescue centre. Without a trip to the North Island on a plane I could not and thus became a hedgehog carer. I am to get his weight up to 700 grams so that he will be insulated enough to survive a Dunedin winter. Hedgehog Rescue said Hedgie was probably out searching for his Mum who was likely to be dead.
The first task was to locate him in the bushes. My dog went crazy trying to find him and I also scrabbled around, agitating the dogs who live over the back fence. When I couldn’t locate him I retired inside hoping to spot him later creeping about for more Little Champions. Sure enough, once the sun had gone down there he was, feasting.
Hedgie was bundled up and placed into his new enclosure – a plastic tub with one of the dog’s blankets shredded up and some strips of newspaper. The poor chap spent the evening trying to escape, attempting to climb the walls and, when that failed, trying again with slippery, wet, feet courtesy of his water dish.
I tried to weigh him on the bathroom scales but he was too light to register. Mr Pigalina is out of town so has not yet been exposed to the madness in person. When he is back one of the first tasks will be an official weigh-in.
(Hedgehog watch day 1)