Thursday, 29 October 2009

Squirrels and hedgehogs

I live in a house less than a mile from Manchester City Centre, and although I have a garden it's rather small, so you might be forgiven for thinking that I see little wildlife. Well, you'd be wrong!!
For the last 3 years or so I've had a regular squirrel visitor. My sister thought he was just one of loads, but then she lives in a big garden with lots of trees, so probably has loads herself. No, I knew it was just the one. The first time I saw him he had pulled down the bag of nuts I'd left out for the birds, and was busy running around the garden burying them. I'm sure he thought they'd be there for whenever he needed them, but the birds were watching.......

Over the years he's come back again and again, although never buried nuts again. Still took the bag of nuts intended for the birds, but he hid them somewhere else. Bella became fascinated by the squirrel, and they became friends of sorts. When they first met, Bella would sit at the foot of the fence cackling like she does with the birds, and the squirrel would screech back. Mostly she'd just sit and watch, sometimes talking to him, but if he got a bit brave and came out into the middle of the lawn, now and again she couldn't help her cat instincts. Although she can climb, he was smaller, quicker and can climb trees better, so happily she didn't get him.

Sadly he wasn't quick enough to escape a car one day while crossing the road. I'd never have known, except for bumping into the estate caretaker who told me he'd just cleared up the remains of a squirrel who'd just been run over. I knew it was our squirrel, and I knew it would be a long time before we'd see another. That was about 3 weeks ago now, and sure enough, no more squirrels. RIP squirrel, we loved having you around.

Anyway, lunchtime yesterday I was sitting in the lounge, and Bella was outside, with the back door open. I heard her shout - she normally does this as she's running in with something important to tell me - but she didn't come in. A couple of minutes later I thought I'd go into the garden, and immediately saw the cutest little hedgehog right in the middle of the lawn, searching out grubs and insects in the grass roots.

I thought Bella would love to see this, she'd never met one before (as far as I knew). Then I noticed Bella sitting on the side of the garden just a few feet away. She looked odd, staring into space somewhere and seemed to be panting a little. I couldn't understand why she wasn't staring fascinatedly at the hedgehog. I picked her up and she was all floppy. She didn't make a sound (she always says something when I pick her up), and seemed to be somewhere else entirely. I brought her into the kitchen and put her down, but she went outside again. She still didn't look right though......

By the then hedgehog had moved towards the shrubs, and Bella followed - at a safe distance. I was sure that the shout I'd heard was when she'd gone for the hedgehog, and probably found a very unexpected spike. I tempted her in with the promise of Brush, so that I could see how she was. No apparent damage to her mouth or paws, and by then she was pretty much back to her old self. I guessed she'd just had a nasty shock!

Well, hedgehog came back again this morning, and found a couple of Bella's treats that she'd had on the patio and went a bit soggy in the dampness - loved them! Tried a couple of chunks of Felix in Jelly and chomped away very noisily. Hedgehog was really very happy with us - no apparent fear and seemed quite relaxed. Bella was fascinated to watch, but every time he got close to her (and they really do move quite quickly!), she'd run away. Now and again a paw would go up to swipe him if he got too near, but she never quite made contact - I'm sure her encounter yesterday was still very fresh in her mind.

Last I saw he was squeezing through the gaps in the back gate to go into the front garden - and Bella followed a few seconds later. I'm hoping he'll stay safe from cars, although hedgehogs don't have a good track record! I'd like to think they can develop a good friendship.......


  1. Love this blog, keep up the great work wish you all the best.

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  2. Thank you so much. I have loved writing it, but as you might have noticed, have been guilty of letting it slip more recently. However, I shall definitely be writing again! Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.