Hog’s reminder that he’s no pet

As I enjoyed a Giacopazzi’s ice cream in the warm sunshine at Eyemouth at the weekend, it was hard to believe that almost exactly a year ago we were enduring the ‘Beast From The East’ storm, with a snow-blocked A1 and waves of ice piling up on the seashore.

Saturday, 23rd February 2019, 14:03 pm
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 13:01 pm

At the Rollo Centre, the swans had been literally grounded as the water in the big pool was frozen solid and took a fortnight to thaw.

Some volunteers weren’t able to get to the centre because of blocked roads and cancelled buses. However, the animals relied on someone being there every day to feed them, and somehow we managed.

A year on and things are completely different.

We’re having bright, calm mornings, the larks are tuning up for spring, and the garden blackbirds are already vying for territory.

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The recent warm spell has allowed the kestrel, which was brought in with a broken leg a few weeks ago, to move outdoors into the undercover aviary.

His leg has healed well, but Kay was a bit concerned that he was holding his left wing lower than the right. Having a bit more space should give him the chance to strengthen his wings because when he’s released he’ll need to be able to hover in the air to scan the verges and fields for food.

The milder weather might also tempt some of the 20-plus hedgehogs hibernating in the outdoor hutches to give a yawn and a stretch and start tucking into their dried food mix.

The indoor hogs really seem to have taken to their new ‘des res’ apartments, although their choice as to where to do their nightly poo has been creative to say the least.

Because the ceilings are much lower than the original metal cages, one particularly agile hog has actually managed to deposit his ‘doings’ up aheight, presumably by performing a handstand up against the back wall of his home.

My volunteering colleague Una is off at the moment so Steve, who has very kindly agreed to stand in for her, has been the unfortunate that’s had to mop up after the hog’s hi-jinks on a Wednesday.

So much for the back end of a hedgehog – the front end can be equally fraught as I’ve found with one particular ‘resident’.

Most hogs seem to get used to the recovery room routine of being taken out of their cage for weighing. Sometimes you find them at the front of the cage nosing out as if they’re looking forward to the fresh food and bedding.

But one hog was clearly annoyed at being lifted out of his box for cleaning recently, and expressed his displeasure by delivering a sound nip to my finger.

It didn’t hurt, especially as I was being protected by the plastic gloves we wear, but it was a reminder that the hedgehogs are wild animals and a cage in a room is not their natural environment.

Perhaps he can’t wait for spring when he can be free.