The hedgehogs are fine thanks.

I think I'm the only person I know who gets greeted with "Hi - how are the hedgehogs?"

So yeah, they're fine. I haven't weighed them lately but I'll do it this weekend and let you know how much they've grown. Serves you right for asking!

And so far they haven't given me ringworm, leptospirosis, mange, fleas, leprosy or the bubonic plague, much to the disappointment of everyone who told me they would.


They haven't really "caught on" though. I blame it on their lack of cuddliness (hogs ... not family).

So after my husband demanded the poor orphaned and homeless prickly beasts be removed from the bathroom, it was hard to recruit helpers for my "plan B" which was moving them to a purpose-built bijou hedgehog orphanage in the garden.

As it turned out, there are no commercially available purpose-built hedgehog orphanages. Who knew?

I decided I would need to construct my own.

Hedgehog experts on the internet (because you can find an expert on anything on the internet) said an enclosure would have to be tall enough that a hog, standing on its hind legs, couldn't get its front paws over the edge.

"They are very strong," said these founts of hog-wisdom. "If they can get their front feet over, they can pull themselves up."

I tried in vain to get the largest of my baby hedgehogs to stand on its hind legs so I could measure how high he could reach. He preferred to stay in a spiky-ball configuration so I had to guess.

I took my guess (sort of mid-calf) and went to the garden centre, thinking garden edging would look nice as a hedgehog fence. Sort of zoo-ish, and recyclable edging ... once the mini hogs had grown big enough to be set free.

I stood next to rather a lot of different types of garden edging but had to leave empty handed.

Most were considerably shorter than mid-calf and the customer service personnel were starting to look at me funny.

I looked in the pet shop but hutches tended to have ramps, and I wasn't sure hedgehogs did ramps.

I was stumped until a fellow gardener mentioned she had a large tractor tyre planter in need of a new home.

"Hedgehog enclosure!" I said with great enthusiasm.

"No ... garden planter, for you know ... plants and stuff," she replied.

But my enthusiasm knew no bounds and I rounded up a willing - okay reluctant but she owed me a favour - helper and hooked up the horse float to go and collect my new tyre-shaped ex-planter now potential hedgehog orphanage.

The theory - as far as I had one - was that I was collecting a tyre, tyres roll, horse floats have handy ramps, no problem at all.

In practice the tyre weighed a tonne.

It eventually took five of us to get it upright. The rolling part though, not a problem. Because the driveway sloped quite steeply towards the road.

Well, one problem.

The tyre wanted to go quite fast. And it also had a distinct pull to the left.

The horse float was positioned to the right.

The five of us held on tight. We leaned back and we hauled to the right.

The tyre rolled faster, and veered even left-er.

We discussed strategy as we went from a walk to a jog, deciding that if the tyre got loose and headed into the street we'd swiftly disperse, look innocent and say "tyre, what tyre?"

With an immense effort we convinced the tyre to do a right turn just before it hit the highway, and we heaved it up the horse float ramp and tied it in place.

Once home I had to recruit more helpers to roll it out, muscle it into the garden under a shady tree and drop it on its side.

The easy bit was fetching the hedgehogs and tipping them in. I added their little sleeping house full of fresh hay, a bowl of water, some cat biscuits and stood back.

Three ungrateful hedgehogs unrolled themselves and grumpily trudged back into their bed. The fourth started to explore.

Round the tyre he went, exploring. Round and round ... and round ... he didn't seem to get the concept of a circle. He seemed to think he was going to arrive somewhere.

I left him to it and went to dish them up a plate of their favourite cat food.
When I got back the wandering hog was still circling.

Surely he'd work it out?

After tea I went back. It was dark and there was still just the one hedgehog out. And he was still circling the perimeter of his new, round, enclosure.

It turns out hedgehogs aren't very bright.

Some animals are far more switched on, however.

In the middle of the enclosure, scoffing the hedgehogs' favourite cat food, was ... the cat.