Monday, 14 July 2008

The toad and the hedgehog

The house we are presently staying in is built deep into a steep hill side of rock. Sitting having breakfast yesterday morning looking out of the window I noticed a very glum looking toad slowly and seriously making his way up the rock towards the top. I wondered why he needed to and indeed why he imagined he'd be able to.
What's at the top that isn't at the bottom? Why didn't he take the longer but much easier and less precarious route? The arrow's pointing straight at him. If you enlarge the picture you can see him - just. He looks like a rather worried pebble with legs!
He spent a long time contemplating the situation and thinking he may have misjudged it somewhat. Eventually he turned to come down, missed his footing and bounced back down to the bottom in a fraction of the time it took him to get up. He stayed at ground level for a while regaining his composure. Then he did what he should have done in the first place, walked away from the rock face in the opposite direction!
I don't know if this little hedgehog is a friend of Toad, but she too seems to makes life hard for herself. We see her often in the evening slowly (very slowly) making her way up the steep drive past our house and beyond. It takes her ages and she often stops on the way for a rest. It's gravely and stony and can't be very comfortable, but she keeps going until she disappears round the bend further up the drive.
We wondered if it was some sort of game she had like a helter skelter ride. When she gets to the top she curls into a ball and rolls down to the bottom. But a few days ago, I watched her walk down the hill in much the same weary fashion that she used when walking up. Do hedgehogs live in hedges? If so there are plenty she could chose from at ground level with nice views over the loch.
We had some friends staying recently. One evening, driving along the lane, we saw another little hedgehog, sadly it had been run over, and was struggling to get up. It was distressed and obviously in pain, and only the very hard hearted could have left it to struggle on its own. We managed (well, one of the friends mainly, an ex brown owl, who doesn't faint at the sight of blood!) to lift it into the car and drive with sirens blaring, to the wildlife hospital in Ullapool. Its chances of survival seemed slim, but we left it in the capable hands of Beatrice who gave an injection, wrapped it in a warm towel and placed it in a heated box overnight. That was two weeks ago. Yesterday I had a phone call from Beatrice to say that 'Hoffie' as he is now called had survived! For the first 10 days he had been very shaky and seemed only to be able to walk in circles (that sounds like a Hoffmann!) but had slowly improved and was now eating and walking normally, though still a bit shaky. He may not be released back into the wild but the hospital has a hedgehog village for just such casualties. I'm happy we helped him, but part of me wonders if we shouldn't just have left him to his own fate. Wildlife is very much about the survival of the fittest and we interfered with the balance. On the other hand he'll have a secure and hopefully, good quality of life in Ullapool, and it was simply impossible just to leave him suffering, on his own in pain.

1 comment:

Carmen said...

I'm so glad that the hedgie was rescued. We don't have hedies in the states - not wild and free at any rate.


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