We have hedgehogs visiting our small suburban garden. Every evening we put out a bowl of water and a small bowl of food for our visitors. In the bowl a mixture of Spike’s hedgehog food, a meat based wet food and dry hedgehog food, occasionally supplemented by treats like currants or peanuts.
On day 7 of our #30dayswild the food had been placed out as usual and as dusk deepened into night we were relaxing inside. Suddenly from outside the most almighty noise began, a high pitched squeal, a banging. Alarmed I rushed to the back door and caught a glimpse of an animal streak past. Not a hedgehog but a rat.
We have seen rats in the garden before on occasion, and on the trail camera have seen interaction between the hedgehog and the rat. The hedgehog hunches over the food bowl, sometimes sitting entirely on top of it while the rat tries to nip in at the side to steal titbits and run off with them, shortly returning for more. We’ve even seen the rat try to Kung fu kick the hedgehog on the side, which it clearly regretted! Occasionally we have seen the hedgehog curl up slightly, pushing it’s sounds out in reaction to the presence of the rat, but no more than that and certainly no fighting. Something else was clearly going on.
I caught a glimpse of a rat, much bigger than the one we were used to seeing. From under plants in the garden, the squeaking squealing noise continued, similar to the sound a hamster makes if it has got stuck, we’ve heard it occasionally when our pets have got up to mischief, most notably when one hamster escaped their ball and pushed themselves behind a bookcase, not being able to go any further forward they squeaked like the end of the world was nigh instead of backing up the way they had come.
The noise in the garden sounded like a scared or hurt rodent. I searched with torchlight but no animal could I see. Gradually the noise subsided. I assume this was a battle between the usual small rat we see and the new larger animal, our normal ratty visitor coming off badly from the encounter.
Just then movement caught my eye on the small patch of lawn, a hedgehog cutting across to the food bowl. Hedgehogs are surprisingly noisy, making audible snuffles as they move around. Not wanting to disturb our visitor I stood still enjoying the experience of seeing them so close, hoping that I would not alarm them.
I am sure that the hedgehog knew I was there but it seemed unconcerned, and dug into the bowl of food, lips smacking and teeth crunching as it ate. Momentarily it was joined by the rat. Wanting to give the hedgehog a chance to eat I clicked my fingers and the rat darted off, the hedgehog did not even look up, just adjusted its position slightly to cover more of the bowl and carried on with its meal. This happened a few times, each time the rat darting off as I shooed it away.
The hedgehog being completely unbothered by my presence I quietly called in for my husband to join me in the garden and we were both able to enjoy a close encounter with our garden friend. The hedgehog finished the bowl of food, lapped at the water and trotted off into a flower bed to continue its night time wanderings, no food left for the rat.
An unexpected wild evening in our own back yard.