I seem to have got myself into a prickly situation.

And all because I was actually doing some housework for a change.

Last weekend I was on my way to get the washing in, clothes basket in hand, when I saw something on the lawn that shouldn't have been.

Well, two things. First of all there was half of a mangled and sticky lemon muffin that had been dropped there by a small granddaughter. Secondly, attached to one end of the muffin and munching happily was a baby hedgehog.

Advertisement

Hedgehogs don't normally wander about in broad daylight and I was curious as to what this small spiky bundle thought it was doing, strolling around my lawn eating muffins on a bright sunny day.

I quickly upended the washing basket and trapped the hedgehog, thinking to make sure it was okay and not ill or injured. It seemed oblivious to having been trapped and continued to devour the fallen muffin.

By now it had an audience and we decided to take it inside and see if it would eat something a little more sensible, and if perhaps it needed a drink and a lie down.

It wasn't concerned about being caught, not even bothering to roll into a prickly ball, which was helpful.

We popped it into a handy cat cage - because in our household you're never far from a handy cat cage - took its muffin off it and offered it cat biscuits and a drink of water.

It didn't really want cat biscuits. But the water was appreciated. I searched the internet for "why is there a baby hedgehog on my lawn in broad daylight eating a muffin?" and found that it was possibly thirsty.

The internet also said that bread wasn't as bad for hedgehogs as it was first thought. I apologised to the baby hedgehog and gave its muffin back.

The internet also said a baby hedgehog is a hoglet. And that it should really eat tinned cat or dog food, or slugs, snails or mealworms.

I had no tinned cat or dogfood and I don't tend to have mealworms lying about so I went out to the garden to look for slugs and snails. All I could find was one slug, which wasn't my first choice as snails are much less ... damp ... to touch.

After approaching and retreating several times I steeled myself, picked up the slug and carried it inside, chanting "ooh yuck ooh yuck ooh yuk" as I went.

I dropped the slug into the cat...now hedgehog...cage where it landed in the centre of the hedgehog's forehead.

The hedgehog seemed oblivious. I waited to see if it would swipe the slug off and eat it but no, now I had a hedgehog wearing a slug as a hat. I wasn't prepared to touch the slug a second time so I rummaged in the kitchen drawer for tongs.

I shifted the slug and put it in front of the hoglet. The hoglet ignored it. I put "tinned cat food" on my shopping list.

The slug slowly made its way up the side of the cat cage and out through the bars, where it was claimed and carried off by an enthusiastic 5-year-old grandson.

The hedgehog snuggled into the hay in the cage and went to sleep, full of lemon muffin.

I picked up the washing basket and made a second attempt to bring in the washing. As I rounded the corner of the house there was something strange on the lawn ...

The second hedgehog was identical to the first hedgehog. I added it into the cage and wrote "two" next to tinned cat food on the shopping list.

When I got home from the supermarket with the cat food I discovered that hedgehogs are gross.

After they had finished slurping and chewing loudly with their mouths open they walked to and fro through the food dish.

I reached for my handy stack of newspapers ... because in our house you are never far from a handy stack of newspapers ...

Lining the still-empty washing basket with newspaper I plonked the grubby wee hedgehogs in it, so that I could clean their cage.

One of them promptly squeezed through one of the gaps in the basket. Not all the way through though, just halfway, at which point it became a tight squeeze and he decided to reverse.

He hadn't thought it through. His prickles didn't allow for reversing out of tight places. The hedgehog was stuck.

When I'd finished laughing at him I went and got my secateurs and snipped through the plastic, released him and put him back in the cat cage. Then I asked the internet when I could release the hoglets back into the wild.

Google said when they weighed 600g.

I decided it was worth sacrificing my kitchen scales in the interest of formulating a hedgehog release date. The first hoglet weighed 168g. The second one weighed 153g.

I wrote "more tinned cat food" on my shopping list.