Hedgie Sure Loves Dog Meat

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)

Advertisements

Hedgepigalina

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)

Seal Spotting at Taiaroa Head

We headed out to the end of the Otago Peninsula to investigate what is there, as it has been many years since we did.
Pilots Beach held a wealth of seals and they were not scared of humans – sunbathing on the rocks within feet of the many people. Living at the site of one of Dunedin’s most popular tourist attractions (the albatross colony) will do that to you.
The other side revealed steep cliffs with a view of the lighthouse and numerous nesting birds. We didn’t spot any albatross but I can confirm you can see some good sights at the end of the peninsula without spending any money.

Seagull Discrimination

It turns out it matters what colour you are if you are a seagull in New Zealand, and I’m talking beak colour.

There are three types of seagull in New Zealand – as far as I have determined – yellow beak big ones, red beak and black beak.  I am not sure which colour makes you the most important but *spolier* it’s not red.

Today on my way to work a seagull was sitting on the grass next to the footpath.  It didn’t make any attempt to move when people walked past so I knew something wasn’t right.  I went to touch the bird and it did move, and then I noticed that both of its legs were out behind it and it was “sitting” on its belly.  There was no way it could fly away as it could not push off the ground with its legs.

I called the Department of Conservation (DOC) hotline for injured wildlife.

“Do you help seagulls?”

“What kind is it?” they asked

“One of the ones with the red beak and red legs.”

“No, try the SPCA”.

I then had to find the number and call the SPCA “No we don’t, try DOC.”

“I just called them, they said to call you.”

“Tell them that you are in Dunedin, the Dunedin branch helps those kind.”

I called DOC back again and the lady didn’t sound very interested, I explained how the SPCA had said that the Dunedin branch helps them so therefore I had called back.  She asked if I could take the bird to the office – no, not without wrangling into my cardigan and carrying across busy roads and a few blocks.  She logged a job with them and said that they would call me back and instructed me to call the Dunedin office myself also.  I did.  They were shut.

Just as I was hanging up a young man appeared.  He asked if the bird was hurt and, as if to demonstrate that yes it was, it scooched awkwardly across onto the footpath.  I told him the saga and he said that his mum had helped lots of injured seagulls out so he would take it home.  He threw his jumper over the bird and said he would head home to feed it up on cat food.  After declining a ride he was gone, bird in arms.

DOC did not call me back until almost 40 minutes later when I was at my desk.  I would have been late for work, and would have stood on the side of the road for close to an hour.  When I told them that the bird had been taken by the kind boy the woman said “It probably won’t heal.”  “He will make it comfortable anyway.” I replied.  I know your game DOC, you would take my injured bird and kill it without letting it rest on a nice bed scoffing cat food before it goes!  At least it got taken in by a family that cares, even if its days are numbered, not left on the side of the road for hours by the organisations supposed to help creatures.

gull

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

(Part of the Pigalina does new things series)

Mr Pigalina’s Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and our niece went to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and gave mixed reports. “It was beautiful” (the elder’s view), “It was boring you couldn’t even see anything” (teenager’s view). It turns out they never left the visitor’s centre/cafe so no wonder they didn’t see anything! Had they left and gone for a walk around the massive sanctuary they would have seen some fantastic native birds up close. As you enter through the security gate you must check your bags for stowaway mice, once inside the predator proof fence there are a number of trails you can walk. There is a new tuatara house near the entrance and we were lucky enough to spot this tiny fellow, one of two.
2013-01-10 13.17.46
In the bank at the side of the path to the tuatara house were lots of little holes which were made by Kiwi foraging for worms. We learnt this fact while eavesdropping on a guided tour (“They’re trying to learn for free”). Scattered around the trails are feeding stations which were very popular with the Bellbirds and Tuis while we were there.

Bellbird Tui

They have little “hoppers” at each feeding station for the heavier Kaka to jump on to open. There were also a number of tiny Fantails (or Piwakawaka), my favourites, flitting about.
2013-01-10 14.07.35
The sanctuary is a lovely, affordable, day out and I intend to go back and go on the longest walk, past New Zealand’s tallest tree. The visitor’s centre is made from recycled shipping containers and uses rainwater to flush the toilets, in the spirit of “eco”. There is also a giftshop fully of lovely things and a cafe where you can sit and relax while taking in the view. You may not see any birds from there though, as Mr Pigalina’s family can attest.
(Here is a bonus video of the Bellbirds an Tuis).

(Native bird spotting tip! – If you are in Dunedin and want to see some Pukeko, head to the Green Island landfill, they’re everywhere!)