Welcome to the Circus!

Why hedgehogs? Life on the islands of New Zealand managed to evolve without any land mammals except for a couple of species of very small bats, so every mammal here was brought from somewhere else. Unfortunately most of these animals have been very bad for the native plants and creatures. Generally they are treated as pests that need to be exterminated. Hedgehogs are the only wild animals I ever see in the city, apart from an occasional rat paddling up the river.


I like to have a couple of them living in my garden, as they’re great for controlling the slugs and snails, and I’m rather fond of them.

I was heading down the street on a rapidly cooling evening in early winter when I spotted the young hedgehog in the photo. It was nosing around the cracks in the pavement, a few feet away from the bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. If it was out of hibernation in the cold in this dangerous area then it was probably quite hungry, and with all the traffic this was unlikely to end well. I went back to my house and got my gardening gloves and came back. A gentle prod prompted the little beast to roll into a prickly ball, and I carefully picked it up. I got some odd looks carrying a hedgehog home. Part way there it unrolled and started trying to wriggle out of my hands, but thankfully didn’t bite me. In my backyard I put it down under the fig tree, and it immediately began exploring. Finding a fallen fig it tore into it. I figured some protein might help and offered some dry cat food which was crunched up with relish. And then, it shuffled off into the garden.