Are you related to Mrs Tiggy-Winkle?

The night before last night, about midnight, I heard a clunk clunk on the cat’s plate near the front door. I had a peek into the dark and saw the outline of a roly poly hedgehog, with feet and snout in the trough.  Last night, about midnight, I heard the clunk clunk again, and there was the hedgehog back for more of the very slim pickings left by the cat.

For me, the return of the hedgehogs marks the beginning of summer. I love seeing and hearing them in the night garden. They can be very vocal. I also like to  wonder if it is the same hogs returning each year.   I shouldn’t really like them because they are an introduced pest, but I can’t help myself. I  lay the blame for my environmentally incorrect liking at the feet of Beatrix Potter and Mrs Tiggy- Winkle. Besides, I am sure they control the rampant snail population in my garden. That can’t be a bad thing, except for the snails, of course.

The hedgehog reminded me of an article I read a few weeks ago in our daily newspaper, The Press. The article said that a Mr Robert Wilkin, the first President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association, was responsible for introducing hedgehogs to Canterbury. In a letter to the Timaru Herald in 1883 he wrote, “I received 6 (hedgehogs) from England in December 1881, and turned them out into my garden, but they soon strayed away.”  The hedgehogs travelled aboard the ship the Waimate and their journey from England took 3 months.

The idea of those 6 little creatures being gathered up from some corner of an English garden, placed on a ship, and sent across the oceans to a strange, new land, amazes me. Were they seasick? What did they make of no longer being on terra firma, or were they in a happy state of blissfully ignorant hibernation throughout the journey? When they put their  feet on New Zealand soil for the first time, did they wonder if they had “died and gone to heaven?”  A  friend pointed out to me, the hedgehogs obviously weren’t fazed by their new environment  because they busily set up establishing their own new colony.

And one of their descendants is now happily ensconced in my home several hundred kilometres from their original landing place.  Hoggers of hedges the hedgehogs may be but that hasn’t stopped them from being remarkable voyagers and explorers. Not for this lot, the domesticity of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.


12 thoughts on “Are you related to Mrs Tiggy-Winkle?

  1. clarepooley33

    Thank-you for directing me here! I had no idea (again) that they had been introduced in this way. What are they doing that is so terrible? It is obvious that they have no natural predators as they have in the UK.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Apparently they are eating masses of our native wildlife. Skinks and lizards, for example, I suppose. Though they wouldn’t find such things in my garden. Conservationists would probably say that if I got rid of the cat and the hedgehog, and planted more native plants, I would have masses of native wildlife. Perhaps that’s true.

      1. clarepooley33

        My goodness! Hedgehogs here eat slugs, snails, beetles , worms and carrion (and cat food when they can get it!). They have changed their diet a little if they are also eating reptiles. Conservationists can sometimes be a little too earnest. Most wildlife, native or otherwise, seems to adapt quite well to change.

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Apparently whilst our hedgehogs prefer insects they do eat skinks, and the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds. I can understand the concerns of our Department of Conservation but there is no way I can exterminate the little ones who visit here.

  2. leapingtracks

    Hedgehogs are being actively celebrated in the UK as a way for organic gardeners to keep snails and slugs at bay, so you are not alone in thinking that they can help with this. We have had such a wet summer this year, that this is even more of a problem than usual.

    As for Mrs Tiggy-Winkle? what’s not to like? 🙂 Have you seen the film Miss Potter with Renee Zellweger? If not, it is well worth watching.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      When I was researching hedgehogs in New Zealand I found that they can travel up to 3km a day. Also,our Dept of Conservation loathes them and asks us to exterminate them, even from our suburban gardens. Meep…I feel guilty even admitting I have one. Miss Potter is a lovely film. I have seen it twice. You can send some of your surplus rain this way, please.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      You would think so but DOC hates them and wants us to exterminate them even in our own backyards. I am not up to that.


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