Either you've got it or you haven't. I reckon
we've got it...
We planned to get away in July:just a mid-week in
a holiday park. The Friday afternoon before our departure we had to deliver a
cat that had been adopted. On the way we saw a rather unkempt hen pecking by the
side of the road. She was obviously in poor condition, but we couldn't stop
because of the traffic.
After delivering the cat we returned by the same
route and sure enough the hen was still there. We picked a safe place to stop
and attempted to catch her. That was quite easy as she was limping. So we took
We examined her to make sure that she had no signs
of injury or disease and put her in a spare room in our hen house for
quarantine. She immediately started eating and I don't think she stopped for 3
That evening we went out for dinner and after the meal, on the way home, on impulse, I didn't take the usual route. When we reached a roundabout we saw a kitten standing in the road and some others on the verge. So of course we had to stop. We always have cat and dog food in the car, so we put some crunchies down which the kittens immediately went for. This made them easy to catch, especially as they were quite tame. Of course we didn't have a cat basket in the car, so a “Bag for Life” was pressed into service.
Next day the kittens went for their obligatory
stay in a fourrière and we took the hen “Tracey” to the vet for a check up; She
confirmed what we already suspected, that Tracey was an escapee battery hen from
a truck on the way to slaughter. In case, you're not aware, battery hens are
generally slaughtered before they are a year old, because they have a season
when they lay less, which means that it's cheaper for the farmer to slaughter
them and start with a new batch. Tracey was limping because she had broken her
leg whilst in the battery farm and it had healed by itself.
Sunday dawned overcast, drizzly and cool. Didn't
put me off going for a walk in the afternoon and I was rewarded when a few timid
rays of sun peaked through the clouds. After about 9 km and I'm within 200m of
my car when I notice a small hedgehog sunning itself in the middle of the track.
Humm that's a bit dangerous if a cyclist comes along. So I picked it up and put
it to one side of the track. I walked on a few metres and looked back at it. It
hadn't moved. I also realised that it hadn't even curled up when I picked it up.
That can't be right so I went back, picked it up again and brought it back to
the car and took it home in my trusty “Bag for Life”.
Once home Google supplied the diagnosis: hypothermia. It had been sunning itself in an attempt to warm up. Google also supplied feeding and care instructions. To get some idea of it's age to determine it's food requirements I weighed it. About 100g: so on solids. Solids turned out to be tins of kitten food and then puppy food.
This was the evening before we were due to go on
holiday so too late to arrange alternative care for “Harley. So Harley came with
us on holiday. Two things we learnt about hedgehogs very quickly... the “hog”
part of their name comes from the noises they make. And when you change their
diet they make really smelly poo.
Seven weeks later and Harley is a mighty 370g .
We're going to progressively introduce him back to the wild and let him go when
he's about 600g, so we keep handling to the minimum. Just take him out of his
cage, weigh him and put him back.
Meanwhile the kittens are doing well in a foster
home and are available for adoption and two weeks ago Tracey laid her first egg
since we found her.