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  • ‘Hurry’ my neighbour says as I open the door. ‘I know you rescue hedgehogs and there are two babies out on the road’.

    Realising that they can only be orphans, I quickly gather up my gardening gloves and a box and head out with her. It’s October 2010 and the road is covered in freshly fallen leaves so it is a little difficult to see these tiny creatures. Finally, I catch them (hedgehogs are fast!), weigh them, (at around 4ozs each), and after a veterinary check-up they become our winter guests, taking up residence in our spare room.

    Of course, as guests they needed names. On day two, one of them bites me – he’s named pretty quickly until my friend Yvonne reminds me that little kids will be visiting and that a different name might be more appropriate – he’s renamed Nippy. Panic sets in on the morning of day three as Nippy’s sibling decides to try to escape through the bars of the dog cage that was to be their home – gets stuck, prickles go out and we end up having to cut the bars off the cage to release him. The great escape artist! He is promptly named Steve McQueen (Steve for short!).

    And so begins Nippy and Steve’s stay indoors. They are so small they can’t be let hibernate so we wake them every evening so that they can eat and wander.

    The winter of 2010/11 must be one of the coldest Irish winters on record and this pair enjoys their stay at the Ritz! The chef lovingly prepares dishes (dog food – no fish – it kills the little creatures) every evening. They are shy creatures but they fight (like siblings!) and when we separate them they cry for each other. We bring them out for the odd bit of exercise – the kids monitoring one a piece – take your eye off them and they would be gone.

    Finally spring arrives and the days warm up. We move Nippy and Steve out to their half-way enclosure at the bottom of the garden. At this stage they each weigh nearly 2lbs. After a few weeks we remove the enclosure and they are gone.

    We are still waiting for the postcard….
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