Last night I found a little hedgehog in the veg patch. Not knowing what to do, I looked it over and it seemed quite well but young. I put it in a box with bedding,water and a bit of bacon, and hit the internet. Searching ‘hedgehogs in Dunedin’ threw up two startlingly different points of view, a horrifying conundrum for an animal lover (meaning everything alive) like me and my household.
There is the conservationist view that hedgehogs are introduced disease carriers and that they deplete already endangered species, think ground roosting birds, and that they should be treated as vermin and killed. I understand the conservation theories behind this totally and would agree wholeheartedly that endangered indigenous species should be protected had I not found this cute little fellow who is now sleeping beside the back door myself. Also, the idea that a bounty was paid in the past for hedgehog snouts makes me shudder.
The opposing point of view is that hedgehogs mainly eat invertebrates, making it the friend of the veg patch. Apparently the diseases they carry are mainly mange and ringworm which are treatable conditions. There is plenty of advice about how to keep the hedgehog in the garden well and happy and how blessed one is to have these small critters in the garden.
I will never be able to harm the little fellow, so the question is to give it to someone or set it free to live in my pesticide free back garden with the chickens. I also know that chickens and hedgehogs are not compatible, but will try and manage it appropriately.
My grandchildren are on their way to see the hedgehog, so I think I can guess the outcome of this one!