Jake, Josie, Jeroen, Jakeline, Scarlett & the babies
Jake started to turn up in our garden, summer 2016. Here is the whole story:
In the end of may2016, we placed our food-tunnel again in the corner of the garden, where Buffy and her babies lived last year.
We improved the tunnel with igloo-entrances, so even Magpies couldn't steal the food.
The entrances are 12cm wide and 8cm high, which is even big enough for hedgehogs bigger than 1000grams.
We mounted the infrared sensor directly into the tunnel, in order to avoid false triggering from birds, leaves and even sun/shade transitions.
The table protects it from rain.
We modified Mattias's webcam, so anyone could follow what was happening by just logging in.
(NB There is more technical stuff when you click the picture)
It was mounted under a second table that could be moved around, with a 20m LAN cable to the network switch:
We served dry cat-food with maximum proteins and fat, and a bowl with water.
We hoped to see Buffy again after hibernation, but she never came.
Instead Jake became a regular visitor during the beginning of june.
Jake is quite small compared to some of the other Hedgehogs we have seen in the neighbourhood, and walks slower.
He used to come at dusk, and his route was from the west, along the hedge, then crossing the road and disappearing in some neighbours garden in the east.
We were worried about his health, because sometimes he lay down in the hedge as if he was to tired to walk, and he sneezed often.
11 june. We made a plexiglass window in the tunnel, so our oversees cam-visitors could better observe the food-place.
Even Martin's grandmother in Scotland, and Lisa in Canada liked to watch Jake.
There were others monsters that could smell the food... Slugs!
They often infested the whole tunnel, making a total blur of the window with their slime! That is why Martin called it the SlugCam.
Basically hedgehogs eat slugs, but not in that quantity. So instead of being desert, here the desert was eating the food!
Soon, during June, the foodplace was attracting several other hedgehogs, and it became a fixed stop on their nightly routes.
The regular visitors were Jake (my favourite), Josie (big polite female), Jeroen (big male bully that thinks he owns the place) and Jakeline (little female bitch).
We ended up removing the tunnel and just putting the food in some bowls under the table and bench because it could get crowded like here below, and not all hedgehogs are good friends...
Some nights, we counted 6 hedgehogs at the same time in our garden!
Sometimes the males would fight.
When a hedgehog was too agressive, we put him a bucket and transported him to one of the neighbours gardens.
Other hedgehogs would use a long time just circling around each other and making snuffling and puffing noises, which we found out is just "dancing" and a part of their mating ritual.
Could we expect babies again, and hopefully earlier than last year?
HOGLET INFO **********************************************************************************************
Hedgehogs are ready to breed in their second year, and are pregnant for about four and a half week.
Most baby hedgehogs (called Hoglets) are born in July, with an average litter size of four or five.
They are born blind, but after about 2 weeks their spines begin to show, and their eyes open.
The hoglets feed on their mum's milk for the first 3 or 4 weeks.
Hoglets leave their nests between about 3 and 5 weeks old to go on foraging trips with their mum, and they soon have to learn to fend for themselves; after around ten days of foraging with their mother the hoglets will wander off on their own.
The hoglets can take on 10gr per day, and have to reach a weight of 500 to 600gr before they have a chance to hibernate through winter.
Females are capable of having a second litter in late September but these babies will face trouble putting on enough weight for hibernation, and are often unlikely to survive the winter.
Their mother will abandon the hoglets when she feels they have learned enough and it is time for herself to go and hibernate.
Such late litters mean juvenile hogs are still foraging around well into winter, sometimes in the day time and often looking underweight.
Since they cannot find enough food when it is below approx. 10C, they need some food help from humans.
When you observe that they will not get big enough, they have to be rescued and taking care of by wildlife centres who care for, rehabilitate and release animals back to the wild.
But we didn't see any babies during july or august!
We observed that the hedgehogs didn't bother at all about light, also most of them don't even react when you shine directly on them with a flashlight during nighttime.
So we made a transportable wide-angle spotlight with a 1W LED and a 1000mAh phone battery, which made it possible to observe the webcam until at least 3hours after sundown:
During the beginning of September, there were increasing conflicts in our garden at night.
Also the girls had their conflicts.
For example, a little female called Jakeline, who is very funny because she always pulls the food bowl around, and when she drinks she stands with both her tiny hands in the water, would not allow the bigger Josie to eat at the same time. Josie could drink from the water bowl but not get to the food bowl.
And in the picture below you can see that there also is food under the bench, but when Josie starts to eat there, Jakeline will just go there and block it!
Our lovely cat Sophie tried to help, but the task was to big.
And even a second food/water place at the other end of the same hedge wasn't a solution with all those hedghogs (it can sometimes take half an hour to eat and drink for slow ones like Jake, and in the meantime 5 others arrive)
A big boy called Jeroen was dominating the place, and the poor Jake got bullied a lot.
Here you can see what happened when Jake was eating and Jeroen arrived:
It didn't help to poke Jeroen with a stick; he just turned around, looked evil at us and maybe moved away a bit but then came back to bully Jake.
Sometimes Jeroen would just "camp" after eating, in order to keep dominating the place.
Jake started coming earlier to avoid Jeroen, but that didn't always work.
One day he arrived quite early, before there was any food yet.... Then something sweet happened; our cat Sophie came in the house and pursuaded me to go outside and showed me Jake walking around on the grass and trying to locate some food !
The solution that solved the conflicts was the following:
1) make 4 food&water places along the hedge, so the hedgehogs that come via different routes find different places.
2) make an agreement with two neighbours that they also make some food&water places in their garden.
3) everytime Jeroen bullied someone, he was caught and transported to the neighbours, and thus learned that he could better eat there instead. (here the webcam was a good help to keep an eye on the situation)
A big female with some white scars on her back, called Scarlett, also started to be a regular guest.
The 7th october we suddenly spotted a baby 20:57 !!
We placed the tunnel again, so the babies could have their own 7-eleven.
During the next nights it turned out that Scarlett was the mother and that there were 3 babies!
Sophie did some extra guarding, to ensure that ignorant cats like Flemming didn't bother the babies.
The babies had a hard time chewing the cat-dryfood, so we experimented by adding water to the dryfood to make it softer. But the babies refused to eat the softened food even when we put it in their usual bowl at the usual spot, and they always found the hard food instead....
Even putting som sugar on top, as some suggested, didn't help. Maybe Scarlett had told them not to eat unknown stuff.
The 12th october we weighted one of the babies (use gloves, so they don't start smelling like your hands and could risk getting rejected by the mother), and it was only only 179 grams!
So even with a month of 10gr/day max weight increase, the poor thing would never reach the critical weight of at least 500gr, and who knows if it will start freezing earlier and if they get sick like some of the late babies we had last year!
We asked our hedgehog care contact, and she said that we should not do anything as long as Scarlett still was taking care of them.
She would probably abandon them approx 10 days after the babies came out of the nest, because she was quite big so she would probably start hibernating early, and we should observe what happened with them as soon as they were on their own.
Then, from 15 october we didn't see Scarlett anymore.
The babies were coming out to eat during the day (a sign that they are desperately trying to gain weight), mostly in the start of the afternoon, and we discovered that they lived under the playhouse of our north neighbours.
16 october in the evening they were quite confused and tried to follow with some much bigger hedgehog-kids that were visiting the foodplace, and one even tried to ask a bigger one for milk but got definitely rejected.
Also, it was only 6 degrees C at night, so we decided to rescue them.
We also captured another baby that also was to small.
We had built a Hedgebox (wooden lightweight transport-box), and we kept them there that night, inside the house so they could get some warmth.
Inside the box were some towels, leaves, food&water (and some snails, but they climbed out).
But it happenend what our care-lady had predicted: the 4th baby would sit in the middle of the food-bowl, and our hogtriplets were afraid of him.
So we moved nr4 to its own box.
NB it is important that the sides of the boxes are totally closed and high (they can relax when they know there is no way in or out), and that they can go under cover, and there is not excessive light coming in.
They didn't smell very nice, so probably some of them were ill.
The next morning 8:00 they fell asleep, and when we drove them to the care-centre 19:00 they just started to wake again.
The Hogtriplets got the following names: Mobius (boy), Samantha (girl), Joshua (boy)
The 4th baby: Snoepje (boy)
They were registered in the books, and marked with a color, and would go through a health-investigation first, because Samantha looked a bit ill.
Here you can see how Inge unfolded Mobius by just gently touching his feet:
The following picture was taken when the hoglets were adopted by the care-centre.
They were marked with a color on their head during examination.
Click on the picture for a link to pindsvineplejerne.dk
NB During the rest of 2016 it is possible to follow what happens with the hoglets in the care center via their homepage when you use their menu "Dagbog".
Joshua and Snoepje have now moved to a farm, Mobius has moved to another care centre. Find them in the "back to nature" category. LINK
Samantha is still at the "intensive care" centre until she will be healthy and gained enough weight. LINK
29 october there were 3 hedgehogs at the same time; two big ones that actually both were eating in the tunnel at the same time!!, and a teenager that came a bit later and ate from the bowl under the table.
30 october, one hour after sundown, this picture was taken with one of the big ones in the tunnel.
3 november: It is nearly winter; the temperature has dropped quickly, and the thermometer at the food place showed -3C during the evening.
7 november: All other hedgehogs have now disappeared and gone hibernating, but our teenager still comes to eat several times each night.
It is close to 0C during day time and -2C or lower at night, so we are starting to get worried.
8 november: Snow is predicted, so we caught our poor teenager and weighted her; only approx. 400grams! Hedgehogs need to be at least 500-600gr before hibernation, and it looks like this one didn't gain weigth during the last few weeks!
The hedgebox was used again to take our freezing teenager inside the house for some warmth.
The same evening we drove her to the care-centre. She got the name Lumi
Click on the picture for a link to the diary of pindsvineplejerne.dk