The same male hedgehog has continued to use the hedgehog house over the last two weeks but there has been a little development. He is getting a ‘tick’ problem, little insects which show up as white spots on skins on the night time camera.
Hedgehogs are bothered in this way by a specific type of tick, unsurprisingly called a ‘Hedgehog tick’. They are very common, tiny parasitic insects which look rather fierce close up.
The ticks attach themselves to the skin of the hedgehogs as they pass through the undergrowth and then gorge themselves on its blood. They start off the size of a seed but then get bigger as the feed on the blood, eventually dropping off.
It doesn’t look very nice but the hedgehog can support quite a few ticks without too much inconvenience. However too many feeding on it’s blood and it might develop a problem with anemia, but there needs to be a lot of ticks to get to this stage.
I imagine that the warming weather and the dense leaf stuffing in the hedgehog house is providing an ideal environment for the ticks and I have seen an increasing number on the hedgehog. He seems to be getting more irritated by their presence and has been spending more time outside of the nest trying to scratch them off.
The hedgehog has been using the house as a nest site since the start of April but if it becomes a hot-spot for ticks he might decide to move on. I think I would. Perhaps then I may need to clean out the house and start again to attract another resident.
Another event of the last week has been the arrival of a rat in the garden, also showing an interest in the hedgehog house.
Now there are obviously lots of rats around. They do very well in human habitats and the famous saying is that you are never more than 6 feet from a rat. Although famous I don’t think it is exactly true, but it is true that creating a friendly space for nature means that it may attract rats and I need to be zen with that.
However I don’t want to encourage them to stay too long so I’m going to stop leaving out bird and hedgehog food for a few days. If it becomes a problem over time I will try and trap the rat, obviously in a very humane way, and relocate him.
In full disclosure I have already done this once last year when I trapped a rat in the hedgehog house which I took, rat inside, a couple of kilometres away to release down by the river Seine.
I would be very impressed indeed if it’s the same rat, if it was I’d let him stay.