Tales from the
These are real stories about real hedgehogs at Willows Hedgehog Rescue.
It was beginning to snow. From inside the nest Henry could smell the cold air outside. Next to him Henry could feel Henrietta shivering in her sleep.
"The time has come children
to find your own homes"
Only a month ago both Henry and Henrietta were with their mum in her cosy nest along with their other brothers and sisters. "The time has come children", Henries mum had said, "to find your own homes". The hoglets knew that this was true, they had grown bigger now and the nest felt too small and the bothers and sisters had started to squabble and to get huffy at each other. "Winter is on its way so make sure you find places to build a home as quickly as you can mind", continued Henries mum, "you need to have somewhere snug to sleep the winter.".
And that was that. That evening the hoglets left the warmth and safety of their mums nest to make their own way in the world. Henry had always got along well with Henrietta and they found themselves walking in the same direction. "Lets stick together", Henrietta had said, at least for the winter, it will be warmer that way and I feel a little scared.".
Henry liked this idea, he also felt scared with the winter and this whole new world ahead of him. He felt very small indeed, but with his sister beside him he felt a little bigger and braver.
"Henry hadn't realised just
how many leaves it took to make a nest!"
They had found a place in a garden under a shed that was nice and dry and a corner that was cosy and out of the wind. Together they set about collecting leaves and grass to make a nest to live in and to sleep through the winter. It had been hard work, Henry hadn't realised just how many leaves it took to make a snug nest and the work got harder as the rain had started to come down.
At first it had been quite exciting building the home, the freedom to go where they wanted, but now they were worried. Every night it was getting harder to find food. As it got colder less and less insects were around, even the earthworms they loved to eat had gone deep underground and the soil had started to freeze as hard as stone.
That was when Henrietta had started to feel poorly. She started to cough, at first they laughed because it was a funny sound that they hadn't heard before. But now Henrietta shook from the tips of the toes on her feet to the tips of the spines on her back everytime she coughed. She felt weak and wobbly on her feet and to make it worse there wasn't any food around to stop her feeling hungry.
Henry felt cold and hungy and weak as well, but summoning all his strength he left the nest to try to find food. He followed the garden fence keeping out of the sleet and under the bushes. He pushed through the gap in the fence into another garden and into another and another. The ground was hard and cold on his feet and try as he might he couldn't burrow into it to find food.
"Both Henry & Henrietta
were far too small
to be able to hibernate"
Henry knew he had to find food. Both he and his sister were far too small to be able to hibernate, to sleep the coldest parts of the winter away. Henrietta needed extra food as she was poorly. But what could he do? They searched for food but didn't find any. Everytime they went out looking for food they used up energy, both of them were loosing weight when they needed to be putting weight on.
Henry stopped, not wanting to go any further. Henrietta was alone and he was worried. That was when he saw it, in the middle of the short grass, up in the air on a pole, a kind of cage with seed inside and some of that seed was on the ground underneath. He could smell it.
Henry ran over feeling very tired and weak and wobbly on his feet. He snuffled around on the ground, found a seed and ate it. It tasted good. He found and ate more. This is it, thought Henry, it's a bit dry but it tastes good and my tummy feels a little bit fuller. I need to get Henrietta!
"The world whizzed past him, strange smells,
bright lights and then a thud!"
Before Henry could go anywhere there was noise, a bright light, brighter than the sunlight which they slept though. It shone all around and Henry found himself being lifted high into the air, he struggled feebly. "Henrietta, Henrietta he called out". It was no good, he was high in the air, the world whizzed past him, strange smells, bright lights and then a thud. He has in the dark, alone, frightened and with no idea where he was or what had happened.
Four gardens away Henrietta awoke to find her bother gone. She lifted her head to look around, she felt so tired and then she felt a coughing fit coming and sank back into the leaves her little body shaking. "Henry?".
In the well lit cosy kitchen of number four Mrs Wilson was carefully dialing the number of her oldest daughter who lived in Swindon. She has the internet, thought Mrs Wilson and she was sure it was going to come in handy for what she needed.
Part 2 coming soon!