British Hedgehog Preservation Society

NewsLetter 29 - Autumn 1997

Registered Charity 326885

We are a UK Charity dedicated to helping & protecting Hedgehogs (BHPS). Helpline with advice on caring & encouraging Hedgehogs in the wild & garden

Poems
Comedy Corner
Hedgehog Friendly Slug Zapper
Hedgehogs in the News
Hedgehog with 15 Babies?
Dr Jenner and Mr Hog
B&Q Bungle
Apple Hedgehogs
Letters

Poems
By Natasha Blackmore age 11 from Bucking Road Pastures Sanctuary in Yorkshire By Rachel Lightfoot (Membership Number: X312036) from Rotherham in Yorkshire
ALPHABET HOG H is FOR HEDGEHOG
H is for Hedgehogs prickly but sweet
E is for Edie who often likes a treat
D is for drinking which all Hedgehogs do
G is for Gracie who lives here too
E is for eating - they all eat a lot
H is for Holly who likes the warm spot
O is for oxygen they all need to breathe
G is for grass that with hay they weave
S is for spring when some of them leave.
Hibernates in winter
Ending its sleep in spring
Daring little Hedgehog kills big ugly snakes
Gobbling up food
Eating little gruesome things!
Hides in hedges
Open rabbit holes
Getting tired now, time to hibernate
See you little Hedgehog when you awake.

 

By Adullah, age 9 from Hackney, London By Doreen Lindsay (Membership Number: X511090) from Dundee
THE HEDGEHOG WITH NO SPIKES HANDSOME HEDGEHOG LIMERICK
Once upon a rime there was a Hedgehog who sat on a big log
Thinking about spikes you see
He had no spikes
And he thought when he saw another girl Hedgehog
She'll say take a hike.
He cried and cried and cried and cried
While he was crying there was a girl
So she saw him
And gave him a pearl
He looked at her
She looked at him
It looked like their eyes were in a swirl
And when they were in love the stars shone about
The night was at ease
And beautiful songs of the leaves
And the breeze of the wind.

MORAL: You're fine how you are and sometimes it can he easy to fall in love.

A handsome Hedgehog from Dunbar
Took up singing and playing guitar
Female Hogs swooned and screamed
And about him they daydreamed
In their eyes he was truly a star.

Site Map Site Map

Comedy Corner

What do you get if you cross an elephant and a cactus plant?
The biggest hedgehog in the world

What is worse than a bull in a china shop?
A hedgehog in a condom factory

Why did the hedgehog cross the road?
It was the chickens day off

Thanks to M C Broker (Membership Number: X009001SC) from Bridgwater in Somerset

(Grateful acknowledgement is given to Mr Burton Silver [Membership Number: 603121HA] for his kind permission to reproduce this comic strip, and to the Editor of The New Zealand Listener, in whose pages it first appeared)

 

New Hedgehog-friendly slug zapper? Views please...

We recently noticed a newspaper article about a new device a keen gardener has invented. After reading about the death of a Gwent couple's pet cat through slug-pellet poisoning, Derek Carter began to develop a simple slug-killing system that he claims will end the needless slaughter of pets and garden wildlife such as Hedgehogs. He has patented the device, which he hopes will do away with the lethal pellets used on gardens and allotments.

A simple impregnated cardboard collar is wrapped around a seedling or tender plant, killing any slug that ventures near the stalk. Mr Carter uses carpet roll cardboard, a waste product from his former business. He says: "I have already had a great deal of interest from the industry and used the collars myself with very good results." This sounds like a potentially good idea - and could save the life of many a Hedgehog. Have any members heard of this device, or tried it? We are very interested in your views. Mr Carter can be contacted on Tel: 01443 813464.

Hedgehogs in the News

Minister Banks sports BHPS T-shirt

Eagle-eyed Mrs K Willcox (Membership Number: X401041L) spotted that in May, shortly after his appointment as Minister for Sport, Mr Tony Banks (MP for West Ham) was wearing a BHPS T-shirt when interviewed on the BBC's 9 o'clock News. Mr Banks is well known for his commitment to animal rights and welfare. He is among a number of MPs that support the BHPS (from all parties, of course). Mrs Willcox hopes that with high-profile supporters like Tony Banks "things can only get better for British wildlife". Fingers crossed!

Sky's the limit for bad taste

David Kitchen (Membership Number: X702010) wrote in from West Yorkshire about a Hedgehog item he saw on the satellite channel Sky News "Live at five" on 5 May 1997. A Vet from wildlife hospital St Tiggywinkles was interviewed and explained the tightrope our wildlife have to walk to survive today. The Vet mentioned in particular that it was almost impossible to kill a Hedgehog humanely. The channel obviously found the idea of eating Hedgehogs very amusing, as they then asked viewers to send in recipes featuring Hedgehogs as the main ingredient. Mr Kitchen was outraged at the item, as no doubt many other viewers were. The BHPS has since written to Sky to express our distress and that "in these enlightened times when so much concern is given to the environment and wildlife, we would hope for a more positive presentation of this sadly misused animal". David Kitchen is certainly not alone in believing that "Hedgehogs should be supported and helped and not garnished and eaten".

A good sign for Hedgehogs

Stavanger is about to become the most Hedgehog-friendly town in Norway Friends of the Hedgehog, a society founded by animal-loving students in Stavanger, was admittedly somewhat surprised to receive word from the road authorities agreeing to the society's idea. Now, in a pilot project in the town, signs will be set up on stretches of road frequently crossed by Hedgehogs. Members of the society now have the unenviable task of mapping these Hedgehog routes and are seeking the help of the public in spotting where the Hogs attempt to cross the highway What started up as little more than a student prank may end up helping a lot of Hedgehogs! Thanks to Anne Amison (Membership Number: X003140S) from Staffordshire for passing this news on.

Norwegians hope that specially produced signs may help prevent some Hedgehog road deaths.

A Hedgehog with 15 babies?

from Dr Pat Morris

In late July 1997, a Mrs Metcalfe contacted the BHPS with an unusual tale. She had been clearing shrubbery in the garden on a Sunday and disturbed a Hedgehog with its nest. The following evening, a second (much bigger) Hedgehog was seen in the same place, making a lot of noise. On Tuesday morning, between about 8.30 and l0.45a.m, the smaller female made 14 journeys from the nest to another site, each time carrying a baby Hedgehog and with Mrs Metcalfe fending off the magpies whose noisy interest had attracted her attention in the first place. Later a fifteenth baby was found in the nest, dead.

It was assumed that the family had numbered 15 and the second Hedgehog was the male coming to assist at a time of need. In fact, litters of more than eight or nine are exceedingly rare, and a litter of 15 has never been reported. Moreover, the males take no part in rearing their offspring. What seems more likely is that both these adults were females and somehow their litters had become combined. Aggregating young into creches is known for some other species (including dormouse), but I recall only one report for the Hedgehog. This was in 1958 when a nest was found on the Isle of Wight containing six babies of two clearly different size categories. The explanation offered then was a form of superimposed pregnancy, but this is unlikely I'm sure that somehow two litters from different mothers had been combined.

Perhaps Mrs Metcalfe had actually disturbed two nests in her garden during the shrub clearance and the noise on the Monday was the second female moving her young into a nest which was already occupied by the first Hedgehog and her family, (Hedgehogs will use each other's nests, although usually only when they are empty).

Maybe on Tuesday the first Hedgehog, dismayed by all this disturbance from people and Hedgehogs, moved the entire collection of young. It is good that she did so because mothers will often eat their young if disturbed at a critical time. The problem now will be to rear any of them, as female Hedgehogs often have a lot of difficulty raising even six young, never mind 14. It will be interesting to find out what happens to this family or families, and also to hear if anyone else has information on nest sharing and creche formation in wild Hedgehogs.

Dr Jenner and Mr Hog

By Paul Truelove (Membership Number: 808048L) of Stumpies Hedgehog Hospital, Birmingham

If you love Hedgehogs, you are in good companyt Today, few people will recall Edward Jenner, but at the end of the 18th century his name resounded throughout Europe as the discoverer of one of those tremendous inventions of medical science, ranking alongside anaesthetics or X-rays. Edward Jenner was of course the discoverer of the power of vaccination through his research into cowpox.

Jenner was one of the great naturalists of his time, and he was also greatly interested in Hedgehogs. A reading of his letters reveals his fascination with them, and also a curious mixture of whimsical affection and an almost callous indifference to the pain and suffering of creatures which so dominated the view of his century.

Remembering that the newly invented thermometer was their latest scientific 'toy' let's see how its use dominated Jenner and his colleague's thoughts and research. In a letter a colleague writes:

"I shall employ you with Hedgehogs. I want you to get a Hedgehog in the beginning of winter and weigh him. Put him in your garden and let him have some leaves or straw to cover himself with as he will do; them weigh him in spring and see what he has lost. Secondly I want you to kill one at the beginning of winter to see how fat he is, and another in the spring to see what he has lost of his fat. Thirdly, when the weather is very cold, in about the month of January, I wish you would make a hole in one of their bellies and put the thermometer down into the pelvis and see the height of the mercury; then turn it up towards the diaphragm and observe the heat there. So much at present for Hedgehogs."

And again in another, later, letter the same colleague writes:

"I do not see another experiment to be made with Hedgehogs but one. Get a piece of meat into the stomach of one in the very cold weather and kill him 24 hours after to see if it is digested. This may be difficult, but suppose he was made lively in a warm room and then fed and put out into the cold immediately with a little hay over him. If this does, two or three may be served in the same way, and kill them at different times; observe their breathing when in the cold; and if possible the quickness of the pulse and the fluidity of the blood. If you should chance to get more than you can use, I would take a few to put into my garden to walk about in the evenings."

Such experiments may seem odd and cruel to our age - but in such small, hesitant steps does science advance.

B&Q Bungle

Having visited a B&Q store close to where she lives near Glasgow, BHPS member Eileen McLaughlin (Membership Number: X7070055C) felt compelled to write to the company to complain about a particular type of "disgraceful ornament" she spotted in the store. The item in question was a cast concrete garden ornament depicting a Hedgehog flattened and with a tyre mark on its back. Ms McLaughlin said in her letter to B&Q's manager that she "found the ornament disgusting and in extremely bad taste." She also explained how much of a welcome visitor a Hedgehog is to anyone's garden, and pointed out the consequent nonsense of having such items on sale in the garden section. Now, alerted by our member; the Society immediately wrote to B&Q in support, expressing disgust. Ms McLaughlin's letter clearly had an impact, as soon afterwards a reply was received from the Customer Service Manager at B&Q's head office in Hampshire. He wrote: "1 am pleased to advise you that this particular product has now been withdrawn from sale. Please accept my apologies for any offence that was caused by this product being sold in our stores. I can assure you that this was never our intention."

Well done Eileen McLaughlin for taking the time to write to the store and to us and voicing your opinion, which no doubt many people shared. Your action will ensure that garden Hedgehogs are only the non-squashed kind!

Apple Hedgehogs

This is a recipe that thankfully does NOT involve real Hedgehogs. Originally spotted in the Bumley Express, this is great fun for kids to make and adults too, of course! The quantities here serve six plus.

INGREDIENTS:

12 sour cooking apples
5 oz caster sugar
1 oz blanched baked almonds
l pint of water
The whites of 2 eggs
The rind of half a lemon, finely grated

Peel the apples, core eight of them carefully and slice the rest. Place the eight whole apples in a stewpan with the sugar and water; stew until tender, then transfer them carefully to a dish.

Put the sliced apples into the stew-pan, cook them in the syrup until perfectly soft, and beat them into a pulp.

Spread a layer of the pulp on a dish and place the whole apples on top of it, fill the spaces between them with apple pulp and cover the surface with the remainder, raising it slightly in the centre in the form of a dome.

Whisk the whites of the eggs stiffly and then sweeten the result to taste with caster sugar

Spread the beaten egg lightly over the apples, then insert the strips of almonds uniformly to represent the back of a Hedgehog, and serve.

Letters

Angela Rogers (Membership Number:X207049L) from the Isle of Man writes:

My interest was caught by the Hedgehog-badger debate BHPS Newsletter 28. I wonder whether the studies have extended to places such as this island - where badgers are not to be found?

It would seem - from a purely unscientific point of view - that our own Hedgehog population is declining. Perhaps due to unusual climatic conditions? Apart from roadhogs, Hedgehogs have few natural enemies here; we have kept our hedgerows and wild places. Perhaps sometimes our winters are too mild for successful hibernation.

But nature is such a wonderful healer and restores a natural balance. Only humans can be crass enough to contemplate the idea of competition, and a consequent clash between creatures such as the badger and Hedgehog.

 

Mrs Janet Kirby (Membership Number X609054) from Stafford writes:

I am writing in response to Well-travelled Hedgehogs. A colleague of mine has a furry Hedgehog that 'lives' on the top of her computer. One day her Hedgehog was missing and when I asked its whereabouts she replied that it had gone on holiday I was rather puzzled by this, and she explained that some years ago her Hedgehog was hognapped and taken to France by friends. She had no idea what had happened to her Hedgehog until she got a ransom note and a photograph of it with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Needless to say, her Hedgehog eventually returned unscathed from its ordeal. However, other colleagues now know about this adventurous Hedgehog and it regularly goes missing. My friend now has numerous photographs of her Hedgehog holidaying all around the world!

Denise Rogers (Membership Number: X1O11O7L) from Rugby in Warwickshire writes:

Last year I saw an advertisement on the hack page of your newsletter for a villa holiday in Kissimee, Florida. We'd been to Florida before, staying in a hotel, which we found very expensive and restricting. We'd never considered a villa and thought a return to my 'dream destination' was out of the question. We 'phoned the owners of the villa. It sounded wonderful: with its own heated pool, exclusively for guests! We couldn't resist it and booked up. We went in March and had an absolutely brilliant holiday The villa was excellent - clean, spacious and in very good order. If anyone is contemplating taking up the offer to stay in the villa in Florida, I recommend it highly. Thank you BHPS for running these holiday villas. Without you, we would never have returned to Florida so soon!

Mrs Keeping (Membership Number: 605064) from Northampton writes:

My husband and I recently returned from two weeks in the Dordogne, France, staying in one of the cottages advertised in the magazine, owned by Ruth and Peter Cox. We can thoroughly recommend both the cottages and the small village of Tusav. The scenery is breathtaking, and if any other readers are interested we would thoroughly recommend it. Thanks to the magazine for our great holiday!

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