Stepney resident Liz Swinburne was very surprised to find Hedgehog in her garden on 26 May, and then in her house on the following two nights!
Liz reports: “We have had a hedgehog appear in our garden/house on three successive evenings. I have never seen a hedgehog in our garden before and I have lived here for 20+ years. I can only think it has climbed plants to come in over the wall, as our garden is walled on all sides. When we came home at around midnight on Saturday it was trying quite determinedly to get in through our cat flap. If the cat flap hadn’t been locked I think it could well have succeeded.
On Sunday we had the back door open as it was a warm evening and discovered the hedgehog had come inside. We gave it some cat biscuits and water and having eaten, it independently left the way it had come. We watched it navigate the steps down from the back door, and it knew exactly where to find the lowest step to take it up into the garden. There was then a lot of rustling which sounded like it was climbing the ivy and wisteria to get over the wall into our next door neighbour’s garden.
We assume is it didn’t make it, as we next saw the hedgehog about 15 minutes to half an hour later back indoors in a dusty recess right underneath our stairs. Again we gave it food and water and left it to itself. We were able to rescue it and put it back outside much later in the night when it woke us up clearing goods off the shelf formed by the floor under our stairs!!
The hedgehog came back again on the Monday evening and “let itself in” through our cat flap. It clearly had food and water (which were near the back door) and also set about industriously removing a large number of cans and other items from a shelf which woke us up!! We caught up with it in the wee small hours and put it back outside while we still had a house! We didn’t see it on Tuesday or Wednesday nights.”
This is the first confirmed record of a Hedgehog in Tower Hamlets for about five years. A survey at Mudchute last year failed to find any evidence of Hedgehogs, in what was thought to be their last stronghold in the borough in the south of the Isle of Dogs. A survey is planned in Victoria Park this summer. Stepney seems an unlikely location for Hedgehogs to have survived, as it has no large open spaces and poor connectivity between gardens. The apparent keenness of this Hedgehog to enter Liz’s house might perhaps indicate that it has spent part of its life in captivity, perhaps having been previously rescued.
If you’ve seen a hedgehog in Tower Hamlets in the last couple of years, or if you see one here in the future, please email the Biodiversity Officer saying where and when you saw it.
Photos by Josh Vernon (click to enlarge)