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Yes, I am also known as the (crazy old American) hedgehog lady. I just love those cute little critters, also known as the gardener’s friend, as they eat a lot of insects, and do everything I can to attract them to my house. So I’ll just share a few hedgehog come hither tips here with you.
First of all, you want to make your garden hedgehog friendly. This means that they have to have places where they feel safe from predators such as under wood piles, hedges, under or next to a building with some brush cover, an overturned basket with leaves or ferns beneath it, a compost heap, and so on. It goes without saying that they have to be able to access your garden too, so you might have to drill a hole in your fence, or lift up a board. Most hedgehogs, especially the males, are very solitary animals, and cover quite a bit of territory at night to find enough food, as well as females when it’s that time of year, so it’s a good idea to try to have a safe resting place for them.
And of course you have to feed them and give them water. I give them my dog’s food which are rather large chicken flavored kibbles that they seem to prefer to cat food. You can also put out salad greens and fruit, but they need the calories and vitamins found in meat or eggs. What they don’t need is milk and bread: this will make them ill, causing hedgehog diarrhea, and as they’re so small in the best of times, this is something that’s really dangerous for them.
They don’t bite, so feel free to pick them up. I look them over and remove any ticks they may have picked up. Their natural reflex is to curl up into a little ball to protect themselves, a good defense measure because you can’t tell its head from its tail, but they quickly relax when they feel they’re in no danger, some much more quickly than others. Some of them make little almost clucking noises, some of them have runny noses, some of them are happy to just cuddle with you and some like to run around the house – they’ve all got different personalities!
If you see a hedgehog out during the day, it’s probably a bad sign, as this little guy is probably sick and trying to warm up in the sun. You can take it into your house and put it in a box with food and water and maybe a hot-water bottle to keep its body temperature up while it’s getting better. Or if you prefer to walk on the wild side, wrap it up in a towel and put it under your shirt, next to your stomach to keep it toasty warm!