Sunday 15 September 2019

The case of the absent hedgehog

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It's all gone a bit CSI in mum's road. The hedgehogs have disappeared. No-one really knows why, although some are casting suspicious glances at one particular house. There's talk of poison. Rat poison. Not a deliberate act - well, not targeted at the hedgehogs - but a feeling that careless anti-rat sentiment has caught the hogs in friendly fire. It's more than likely: low levels of hedgehog literacy mean they're unlikely to read the warning notices. Even if they do, they may inadvertently snack on slugs that have eaten rat bait but aren't affected by the poison. That's spectacularly bad luck for the slugs, I reckon. But back to the matter in hand. A few weeks ago, mum and her neighbours had a regular dusk visit from two or three hedgehogs. The visitors would enjoy a gentle supper and a quick drink of water before moving on. Now... nothing. At the same time, one of the residents talked about waging chemical warfare against the rodents on their property. There's a suggestion of neighbours planning a 'casual' visit to see whether rodenticide has turned into a broader extermination; whether any attempt was made to keep the poison away from Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Mr Pricklepants and Sonic. After all, there's a legal requirement to protect wildlife from poison you put down for pests. Interestingly, the RSPCA's advice is to deter rats and mice through some simple property management. If that doesn't work, they say an effective traditional-style spring-loaded trap can do the job. It offers a quicker departure for the rats and, if the traps are properly set and placed, is much friendlier to everything else. Except, perhaps, the occasional human finger. And if that happened, it certainly wouldn't need a detective to find out who was hunting the rats.

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