Monday, 12 June 2017

My Prickly Friends • Lynne Garner

A book about the friendship between a
mouse and a hedgehog.  
If you're a long-term follower of The Picture Book Den then you'll know I love hedgehogs. So much so that I've been rescuing them (on a very small scale from a 6' x 8' shed in my back garden) for the last 25 years (Herts Hogline). They're so much a part of my life that they even creep into my writing. In fact my first picture book 'A Book For Bramble' was inspired by them. I've also written a great many non-fiction magazine features about hedgehogs and this year they star in my latest collect of 8 retold traditional tales (Hedgehog of Moon Meadow Farm) and my latest picture book written as co-author with hypnotist Chris Caress called 'Harvey's Big Sleep.' 
A picture booked aimed at helping
children to sleep

As I write this post and if you're reading this within a couple of weeks of my pressing the publish button, I'm hand rearing six hoglets. So rather than tell you something about picture books I've decided to do something a little different. I'm going to turn you all into hedgehog geeks, so you'll know exactly what to do to help our dwindling hedgehog population. Quick fact: hedgehog numbers in the 1950s-60s were an estimated 30 million. Today that has plummeted to 1 million (a faster loss than the loss of the world's tigers). So here are a few ways you can help our hogs:

There are 6, promise. One is hidden under it's siblings.
The white marks are tipex, so I can tell who is who.

  • If you have a pond with steep sides then fit a ramp.
  • Keep netting at least 15cm (6") off the ground.
  • Leave out food and water. This can be special hedgehog food, tinned cat/dog food (non-fishy flavours) but NEVER bread and milk. To avoid cats eating the food buy or make a feeding station.
  • Always check under hedges and in long grass before cutting.
  • Pick up elastic bands or hair bands, cut up and put into a bin. These and prickles don't mix well.
  • To avoid hedgehogs making a nest in your shed/garage, stable or tack room keep the door closed at all times.
  • Do not use slug pellets; find safer alternatives.
  • Always check a bonfire before you light it.
  • Provide shelter by buying or making a hog home
  • Hedgehogs out during the day are highly likely to need medical help a.s.a.p. so contact British Hedgehog Preservation Society for advice.
  • Never treat for fleas; pet flea solutions are lethal to hedgehogs.
  • During autumn and winter small hedgehogs (under 600 grams) are too small to hibernate, so need to be rescued.

As this is the height of the breeding season the BHPS provide the following advice on nesting females and hoglets:

The first feed of the day - hence still in PJs
If you accidentally disturb a nest, try to restore it quickly and without too much fuss.  Check with a piece of screwed up piece of paper to see whether mum is returning, they all react differently, some move the babies over several days, a few have been known to kill them whilst others just abandon them.  If the nest is in a place where it cannot be left, catch the mother before the babies as she will be the most mobile.  Place her in high-sided box with some of the bedding from the nest and then slip her babies in with her.  Contact the BHPS to find a local contact who can advise and if necessary take in the family.  Do not release them somewhere yourself as the mum is very likely to abandon them, given the amount of disturbance she has endured.

Last but not least if you're concerned about your local visiting hedgehog, need advice or find an orphaned, sick or injured hedgehog, contact the BHPS (01584 890801)  they can give general advice and perhaps details of a local hedgehog rehabilitator that you can contact.

If you've reached this far, thanks for reading and please do share this far and wide. Hedgehogs need as many friends as they can get.  



Now for a blatant plug:

My latest collection of short stories featuring Hedgehog is available on Amazon in eBook format and as a paperback.

Hedgehog of Moon Meadow Farm


Jane Clarke said...

You do a great job for hedgehogs, Lynne, and there's a lot of info here that I didn't know before. Wishing you and your prickly youngsters and your books all the very best xx

Lynne Garner said...

Jane - many thanks. The hoglets are doing really well and I wish I could take all the credit. I have a small army of people who help me. Especially when my paid work clashes with feeding duties and if I want to have a weekend off. I can normally find someone to take over and become the 'larder' for a day or two.

Pippa Goodhart said...

This makes me think fondly of Mrs Tiggywinkle. That was the one book my lovely Dad would read to us, over and over again.
We get lots of hedgehogs here, and I love them.

Paeony Lewis said...

No hedgehogs here and sadly there aren't likely to be any in our densely populated area of the city. What a shame. I'm so impressed with all you do for hedgehogs, Lynne, and good luck with dispelling myths.

Lynne Garner said...

They are fab little critters. Happy to hear some fond memories were stirred.

Lynne Garner said...

Paeony, I couldn't do it without a lot of help from my family and friends. You'd be surprised where they can thrive. Established gardens for example those that belong to Victorian houses and are linked are often a great place for them to make a home.