Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Blackbirds everywhere

Every time I go or look outside I see loads of blackbirds. They seem to be enjoying eating the brightly-coloured berries that are so prevalent at this time of year. To my mind they are a more festive bird than the robin, simply because there are so many of them. And of course, they are mentioned in the song "The 12 Days of Christmas"; they are the "four calling birds".

I've not seen any hedgehog activity recently, not that I expect to at this time of year. However Gigibird who lives on the south coast of England told me a few days ago that her two hog visitors are still active! I wonder if they don't intend hibernating so long as she keeps supplying food for them.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Hedgehogs in the news again

Fat albino hedgehog put on weight-loss regime

An albino hedgehog being cared for at St Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital in Buckinghamshire is being put on a diet because he is dangerously overweight.

Snowball, as he has been nicknamed by staff, needs to lose two pounds to get down to a healthy weight.

He is now being put through a rigorous exercise regime, as Claire Price reports.

See video at:

And more disturbingly:

African pygmy hedgehogs become latest handbag accessory

African pygmy hedgehogs have become the latest must-have handbag accessory, prompting condemnation from animal welfare campaigners.

By Murray Wardrop
Published: 7:30AM GMT 11 Dec 2009

The tiny creatures are said to be stealing the hearts of rich women, including footballers' wives and girlfriends, ousting designer dogs like Chihuahuas from their handbags.

At five inches long, owners have told breeders they prefer the hedgehogs to take in their bags because they are easier to maintain than dogs.

Their popularity has been cemented by the variety of colours buyers can choose between – from albino to apricot and chocolate to salt and pepper.

However, animal welfare experts are outraged that the hedgehogs, which sell for around £250, are being marketed as fashion accessories.

Leanne Plumtree, of the RSPCA, said: "Pygmy hedgehogs are undoubtedly very cute but animals aren't accessories and promoting them as such is irresponsible.

"These are exotic animals whose needs are very difficult to meet in a household situation and where that's the case, the RSPCA does not believe they should be kept."

Janet Thornton from North West Animal Welfare rescue centre, in Warrington, Cheshire, added: "These hedgehogs are not fashion accessories

"These are disgusting deplorable people who swap and change their pets like their outfits."

Cheshire Waterlife wildlife centre, which stocks the hedgehogs, has witnessed a sharp increase in demand for the animals as pets in the run up to Christmas.

It said customers had travelled hundreds of miles in search of the creatures.

Steve Birchell, owner of the centre, said: "Our business is based on respect for animals and we ensure that anybody who buys a pet from us knows and understands the importance of proper care for their pet.

"We've been astounded at the popularity of these cute little creatures. I bought a number of the hedgehogs from a breeder who I met a few months ago little realising how popular they were set to become.

"Apparently they are all the range among the WAGS because they are cute, they love being handled and they will sit quite happily in a handbag. What's more they are also inexpensive to keep, feeding on cat-food."

"We've seen customers travel the length and breadth of the country to get here and buy one."

The centre advises prospective buyers to keep the pigmys in their own enclosure – away from other pets.

Diana Mather, a self-styled etiquette and style guru, said: "These lovely little animals should make a perfect present for the trend setter who has everything.

"They're ideal for designer mums to give to their children.

"The African pygmy hedgehog is a delightful little creature which is increasingly seen gracing designer kitchens and peeping out from the handbags of our fashionistas."

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hibernating: Do Not Disturb!

Well, it's December now and I've not seen any hedgehogs in the garden since the night of the 17th November, and have seen no sign of them having visited so I think it's safe to assume that they are all hibernating now. I'd just like to take this opportunity to share with you my very favourite hedgehog photos from 2009:

This past year has been a tough one for me. In March I lost my beloved feline campanion, a beautiful 16-year old black Burmese cat called Spock (see below), and I've never really stopped mourning him and miss him every day. I also lost my job, and although I have enough savings to keep myself afloat for a little while, it has been stressful.

The hedgehogs have helped me. They have given me a focus and a purpose. I feel I've learnt a lot about them through my observations and my videos, and they have further developed my respect for our nature and wildlife which so many people take for granted and do not appreciate.

I feel honoured to have helped them too; to provide a source of food and water and to watch out for the little ones late in the year who may not survive hibernation.

I'm so looking forward to next spring and the return of my spiky friends. In the meantime I will be maintaining a supply of food in the feeding station at the side of the patio near the fence, just in case a hedgehog awakes from hibernation in the winter and needs a bite to eat.

I'm dedicating today's post to my late kitty, Spock, who would have been 17 years old today.