May All Who Come As Guests Leave As Friends

I may have mentioned before that two of our rescue cats prefer dining alfresco irrespective of the weather and that I usually am the one to sprint onto the patio to present them with the Table D’hote menu usually just after 5am when I’m getting ready to depart to work.

Hobo has always been a fussy diner but Charlie is not quite as discerning although I think it’s fair to say that he possibly may just love food more than life itself. After wolfing down his own platter he will usually sit inches away from one of the others drooling until they submit and walk away leaving him to the spoils.

The other morning I’d dished up the day’s specials when both Hobo and Charlie shot into the kitchen as if they were being pursued by the Hounds of Hell. I thought that perhaps a fox or badger had slipped into the garden and went to investigate.

Imagine my surprise when I spotted the cunning culprit gripping the edge of one of the bowls happily munching away. It was a little hedgehog!

As some of you may remember a couple of years’ ago I purchased a hedgehog house on a whim which was eventually placed between two of the larger lavender bushes because it was sheltered and protected from the cats. It became something of a standing joke with my family as they were certain that it would never become occupied but I remained optimistic.

Last summer I couldn’t help but notice the rustling in the lavender bushes and the cats lying in wait for hours but I didn’t explore further fearing a rodent encounter. I should just mention that Milo is the biggest scaredy cat of all, Hobo’s best friend is a house rabbit whom he sits alongside for hours, hasn’t much time for other cats unless they’re kittens and Charlie’s first and only love is a tin of Felix. I even caught a baby magpie using him as a step-ladder last summer to reach the bird feeder whilst he napped (his other favourite occupation).

Since then I have noticed a mother and baby hedgehog wandering around the lawn scavenging for peanuts and slugs. My Dad’s delighted with the presence of his little “Gardener’s friends” as they protect his precious dahlias by keeping the pest population at bay.

As I suspect the hedgehogs are fattening themselves up for the big hibernation, they have become regular supper and breakfast guests lining up alongside our feline family for both breakfast and supper. Of course, at Dyson Abbey we operate an open house policy and a twenty-four hour running buffet so we’re only too happy to oblige.

It’s hard to imagine these precious little creatures which have been such a large part of countryside folklore are under threat; fifty years’ ago there were thirty-six million now there are less than a million. With the hedgehog population in dramatic decline rest assured there will always be a welcoming dish of cat food for any of these enchanting wee folk here at Dyson Abbey.

Want to help the hedgehogs in your neighbourhood? Then you’ll find some useful information over at the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.


26 thoughts on “May All Who Come As Guests Leave As Friends

  1. When I was four or so, we lived in Lakenheath and at some point I’d managed to smuggle a hedgehog into our garage. My parents were none the wiser until I came up with a strange skin irriation and had to go to the doctor. My mom tells the story that the doctor asked her what kinds of pets we had in the house and she dutifully replied, “we don’t have any pets,” while at the same time I replied “I have a hedgehog.” To this day it remains one of her favorite stories to tell. Love those little prickly dears for sure. Hate to hear their numbers have been so drastically reduced.

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  2. . . it’s our delight to have the creatures resident in our Okcular garden – they have their own ‘house’ in our ‘habitat’ along with snakes, mice, voles, frogs and toads and countless insects. Have you listened to them eating slugs? It’s a squidgy business.

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  3. This is such a cute story and I relished reading every word. Your are fortunate to have a hedgehog where you live. There are none where I live and in fact I don’t think these wee creatures are native to the US. Lots of folks buy heggies in pet shop; I detest this practice as a way to make money (selling any kind of animal for profit.) Sorry I deviated from the topic here.

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  4. It’s been awhile since I’ve commented, I’ve been neglecting the blogs I read for awhile.

    What a cute little guy! My grandmother in France had a hedgehog for a time in her backyard. I’m glad the cats didn’t try to attack him but I’m guessing they are wiser about the quills than some dogs are. I don’t think we have hedgehogs in the US, I’ve only ever seen them in zoos here. We do have porcupines but those are bigger and uglier and I’ve personally never seen one in the wild. We do have a groundhog who likes to hang out in my parents’ backyard during the summer and he is rather cute, but eats my father’s plants much to his chagrin.

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    • Can’t believe I missed your comment; how are you? I know from experience how hard it is juggling everything in your life & still finding time for blogging. My Dad loves having the hedgehogs in his garden as it eats the abundant slugs which dine on his precious dahlias but I would love to see a groundhog. We do get badgers, foxes and the odd weasel but I always feel privileged to see them


      • I’ve been good, busy with work! Still living in Manhattan and I think I’m headed to France again in January for work. Just trying to make it through the holidays (the one time a year we Americans actually use the word holidays!) and figure out my Christmas gift shopping. How have you been?

        We have foxes in the US though I’ve never seen them myself. We’ve got weasels and badgers too but again I have never seen them. My parents do have rabbits, squirrels, racoons, and skunks (be glad you don’t have the last one, if your animal gets sprayed as was the case with our family dog, it is VERY hard to get rid of the stench and smells AWFUL). My dad even saw a coyote this summer. But by far the worst offenders my father cannot stand are the deer. They eat everything and leave deer ticks all over the place which spread Lyme’s disease (in fact our dog contracted it at one point).


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