Merrill the Hedgehog

For about the last two weeks, we’ve been feeding a hedgehog which was spotted in our front garden late one night. We understood that these creatures were very secretive and rarely ventured far from their nests – but we noticed that our visitor started to regularly take his feed of meat and biscuits by our illuminated front door every night at about 11 pm. By placing his food nearer to one of our outdoor security cameras, we also started watching him arrive and depart (after about 15 minutes of munching) in glorious infra-red night vision. Our hedgehog was a large adult and we christened him Merrill.

We were shocked on Saturday morning though, when we saw how huge our Merrill actually was in daylight. For reasons unknown, this normally nocturnal dweller, had decided to take a stroll around our garden in broad daylight. He was larger than a typical domestic cat.

Merrill on the Move

                                       Merrill on the Move

Merrill proceeded to take a five minute jog around a circuit of our house. Hedgehogs can move at a surprisingly high pace, especially big fellows like mega-Merrill. He eventually ambled into our old stone barn and had a rummage through my stocks of winter wood fuel. Merrill sensed that I had spotted him and hid behind a thin branch of fallen timber. It wasn’t the best of hiding places.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

                           Merrill in Hiding

Merrill is obviously grateful for his free dinners in the run-up to hibernation time and has become remarkably tame. He is not spooked by bright lights at night, nor by humans observing him at close quarters. Stray cats have approached him but his natural spiky defense system in combination with his vast size means that would-be predators soon lose interest in our Merrill. Only when he’s ready, with a full belly, does he trot off towards the garden fence and into a natural hollow protected by shrubbery.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

          A rare glimpse at the underside of a giant Irish hedgehog

I managed to capture the photo above, by chance, when Merrill scrambled up to the top of my wood pile and then lost his footing. He rolled backwards doing gentle somersaults, and had a soft landing in the hay. Feeling rather embarrassed he then went home for the day, and no doubt had a long sleep. At long last, I found Merrill – but I’ve promised to keep his address and whereabouts secret.

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