Hedgehogs are cute. There is a far-reaching consensus about this. It’s hard to say what that is. Probably it’s the funny proportions, with the broad body resting on seemingly too short legs. But it could also be the type of locomotion that brought him this status. In any case, the spines are very sharp, as I was recently able to experience on my own body respectively on my own fingers.
One morning, when I took the obligatory walk with the dogs, I once again
met a hedgehog. Nothing really special in our area, still. I am always happy
when I see a hedgehog in my garden. Therefore, there is also a large pile of
leaves, so that the little roommates find a cozy place to spend the winter. So,
the sight of a hedgehog is not a special event for my dogs either. They are
used to it and let it rest. That’s why I could calmly approach the hedgehog we
met. But the joy of the meeting, the next moment gave way amazement, because
the little guy did not move. At first, I thought he was just crawling through a
fence, pausing as if he wanted to catch his breath. Finally, I could imagine
that maybe it was not so easy, such a broad body on short legs, to steer over a
threshold. Only when I looked closer did I realize that he had not stopped, but
was simply stuck between two iron bars. He wanted to get through the fence to
the other side, but the individual bars were just so far apart that he had
brought the front part through but was cramped with the rest. So here he was,
in a very precarious, if not life-threatening, situation, the little spiny,
unable to liberate himself, forward or back, or himself in any other way. I
kneeled next to him in the grass while my dogs laid down demonstratively,
because what would a hedgehog care about them, no matter what was wrong with
him. I thought about what I could do. Pushing him forward was impossible
because the bars were too close to each other. There was no getting through.
They did not let themselves be bent apart. They were too stable for that. And
even if I got it through, what would have happened? He would be stuck in a
garden from which there was no escape for him. So, I decided that the only real
chance to save him was to pull him back. I started by telling him what I had in
mind, and assured him, as believably as possible, that I did not mean to harm
him, so he could let the spikes go in calmly. Carefully, I touched him. He
obviously had not listened, because despite my assurances, he put up the
spikes, and yes, that hurts. As soon as I took a little tighter, the spines
drilled into the skin and the first drops of blood ran. That would not be the
same. Finally, I came up with the idea to take off my sweater and take the
hedgehog with it. It was not easy to free him, as he fought against it with all
hedgehogs-power. But how could I make him understand that I just wanted to get
him out? Finally, I succeeded and even before I had set him down on the meadow,
he had rolled himself into a ball. Carefully, I carried it over the way to the
edge of the forest. Then I sat next to him and waited until he had calmed down
so much that he unrolled and disappeared shortly thereafter between the bushes.
I sat for a while, thinking.
I had saved that one, but who knows how many unseen die between such staffs, in a world full of fences and foreclosures. How nice it would be if people think of hedgehogs when planning their fences. I realize fences have to be built so that you do not unexpectedly enter a strange property, but if you must, then it would be good if we also took the needs of our non-human roommates into account. A little bit of thinking about building could prevent a lot of unnecessary suffering and help us to keep these cute little animals around us for a long time to come.