The Hedgehog that Gained my Coronary heart

painting of hedgehog
Hedgehog in Autumn Leaves | Restricted Version Print | Obtainable Right here

Falling in love with hedgehogs

The portray above is a portrait of a hedgehog that received my coronary heart. Till I met this prickly creature, I had thought of hedgehogs a bit too ‘twee’ to color. In actual fact I’ve to admit to habitually letting out an excellent groan once I noticed it prime surveys of Britain’s favorite mammal, or when somebody requested me to color one.

However then in the future, to my horror, I inadvertently trapped a younger hedgehog in a rat entice in my backyard. Fortuitously, the hoglet wasn’t damage, however it was tiny and now separated from its household and I used to be anxious that if I let it go it wouldn’t make it by way of the fast-approaching winter. So I took the helpless animal in and cared for it till it was able to be launched again into the wild. The expertise took me on a journey that made me see the species in an entire completely different gentle.

Hedgehog rescue

I scooped up the bristly handful and took it inside to weigh it on the kitchen scales – it weighed a mere 280g. Fortunately my spouse stated nothing when she noticed it in her clear stainless-steel weighing bowls. Ideally a hedgehog must weigh nearer to 600g earlier than it’s ‘protected’ to enter hibernation because it depends on fats reserves to remain alive in the course of the lengthy winter.

Making a hedgehog home

This toddler would wish some particular consideration to assist it by way of the coldest a part of the yr so I put it within the porch in a pen designed for a pet and fed it a can of cat meals till I had time to consider a long run resolution. The following day I started changing an overgrown, fenced part of my vegetable patch for it and made a picket hedgehog home in a single nook which I crammed with hay.

Extra hedgehogs to take care of

That night I discovered a second younger hedgehog within the backyard. This one was barely bulkier, weighing 300g, however once more it was solely at half its goal hibernation weight. I suspected they have been siblings, the primary being a feminine and the second its brother. The hedgehogs appeared to relish the heat of my farmhouse and common meals.

Superstar hogs result in new rescue

They have been so cute I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of them and posting a snap of them on my Fb web page. The images triggered fairly a stir – hedgehogs actually appear to seize the general public’s creativeness – and earlier than the day was out a buddy rang to say she had additionally discovered a really small hedgehog in her neighbour’s backyard. It had been wandering round disorientated and squeaking and, at simply 120 grams, was even lighter than my two fees. She introduced it throughout to the gallery straightaway.

I used to be bowled over by how tiny it was – it fitted into the palm of my hand. And it was chilly: a nasty signal. To maintain it heat, my buddy had put a sizzling water bottle within the field she had introduced it to me in and even the fleas and lice, that are so frequent in hedgehogs, had given it up for useless and have been lurking on the recent water bottle as an alternative. Not like my two protégés, I knew it might be contact and go for this little character. I warmed it up step by step in my cupped palms after which put the field within the freezer kill off the fleas, hoping that my spouse wouldn’t discover. Hedgehogs on the kitchen scales have been one factor however fleas within the freezer would possibly simply be a step too far.

Caring for tiny hedgehogs

After some invaluable recommendation from an animal rescue care centre in Malton, run by my very educated and trusted buddy Jean Thorpe, I syringed some heat water with important care components into the nook of the hoglet’s mouth adopted by a paste of Spikes hedgehog meals and crushed mealworms. It swallowed this down feebly. I stored up the tiny feeds for the remainder of the day, little and infrequently. As night time superior, I started to fret about how I used to be going to maintain the tiny creature heat.

It was a advantageous stability: too chilly and it might die, too sizzling and it might develop into dehydrated and overheat. After making an attempt to provide you with all kinds of concepts to attempt to regulate varied synthetic sources of warmth, it instantly occurred to me that I might go away this half as much as nature. I put all three hedgehogs collectively right into a small cardboard field crammed with hay and let the 2 siblings to share their heat with the weaker one.

Falling head over heels

The next day, I woke early and rushed downstairs to see how they’d fared.  I plunged my hand enthusiastically into the hay – solely to withdraw it immediately because the sharp spines stabbed my fingertips. Feeling a little bit silly I went off to seek out some gardening gloves after which rigorously parted the hay. There was the little hedgehog: alive, nicely and heat; snuggled in between the opposite two. After three nights of sleeping huddled collectively like this the bigger two have been able to go outdoors, however I made a decision to maintain them till the littlest hoglet was stronger. They ended up staying inside for simply over per week.


However I observed that in feeding time, the smallest hedgehog was beginning to get pushed round by the others, so I started to take him out to eat on his personal. At the moment I had my mum and pa over to remain and one night, as I sat in an armchair absently stroking the littlest hoglet because it lay asleep within the criminal of my arm, my dad checked out my mum and stated ‘I’m getting a bit anxious about our Bob – I feel he’s fallen for a hedgehog.” It was true, there I used to be – a 6ft 2 inch beef farmer’s son – grown keen on a tiny little bundle of spikes. It was time to make this relationship formal. An excessive amount of my work are literally portraits of untamed animals or birds that I do know nicely and I made a decision it was time to get this little creature posing for me in knowledgeable capability. He was quickly massive sufficient to fend for himself so I put all three out within the pen within the vegetable patch and received busy with my digicam.

Inspiration for brand new portray

I habituated the hoglets to the surface world on a sequence of quick ‘picture shoots.’ I chosen my backdrops rigorously, letting them wander by way of a woodland set, over a sequence of branches, traverse a very engaging leafy glade and curl up in some fetching autumn leaves till I used to be pleased with a number of composition concepts and able to begin work on the easel. Quickly the climate turned actually chilly, so I put them inside my log retailer behind the gallery and fed them on dry cat meals. They solely got here out sporadically now and different meals might go off. As quickly because the worst of the winter climate handed I put them again within the outdoors pen – however with such a chilly spring I stored them longer than I anticipated releasing them again into the countryside at first of Could. By that point I had been busy in my studio engaged on their portraits. A lot for not wanting to color them – I now couldn’t wait!

I prefer to suppose there’s a reciprocal relationship between my conservation work and my work – I do a creature a great flip and it helps me out by posing for its portrait. By no means was this more true than with the portray of a hedgehog.


  • The way forward for hedgehogs in Britain is within the stability. There are 300,000 fewer of those spikey creatures than a decade in the past
  • The determine represents a 25pc decline and is believed to be as a consequence of street accidents in addition to the lack of major habitats resembling hedges and of macro-invertebrate meals.
  • Hogs have inhabited the earth for 15 million years and existed earlier than sabre-toothed tigers and mammoths.
  • They’re additionally the nation’s favorite wild animal, in keeping with a survey by the Wildlife Belief.
  • However in medieval occasions roast hedgehog was a well-liked delicacy.
  • This even supposing an grownup hedgehog has between 5,000-7,000 spines – yeuchh!
  • Hogs eat a purely protein-based weight loss plan, taking little or no plant matter. They eat slugs and bugs and scavenge carrion and birds eggs.
  • Opposite to standard perception, milk is dangerous for them and so is bread. If you’re feeding one in your backyard go away cat meals out for them as an alternative.
  • Male hedgehogs can clock up round two miles an evening, crossing the territory of a number of females. Depart gaps in backyard fences for them.
  • Assist the hedgehog trigger by keep away from slug pellets in your backyard



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