Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Epic of Hedgehog Noah and the Great Flood


The Epic of Hedgehog Noah and the Great Flood

Here's a tale of true Cumbrian spirit,
Of a Hedgehog with fine character and distinction and merit.
It all happened in the winter time not too long ago,
In December through February before coming of snow.

Infact it began with the most terrible floods,
When Cumbria submerged under Storm Desmond' scuds -
And half the wide world - well, of North England at least,
Below waters submereged, South England slept till it ceased.

As days rolled into nights and weeks into wondering,
The good people of this land united despite political blundering.
And many sorts of care they sent from kind hearts everywhere -
To help with housing and drying, heating and eating prepare.

To restore businesses and byways and bridges - those needing,
But not much thought in this time for our wildlife or its feeding.
Creatures and living things suffered the unspeakable end,
Swept across counties and fields, beyond life sadly transcend.

For the wild animals- birds- insects, the flood was a calamity...
Indiscriminate death struck beak-claw-wing, web and anttenaey.
Apocalyptic and Biblical in potent and style,
The preeceding rains saturated everyones mile.

Forty days, fifty nights and countless many more,
Torrents of heavy waters did relentless downpour.
That fluminous floodtide flyped our commonweal to extinction,
Its like was unseen despite the hydrologists prediction.

Plunging upon us without warning or caution,
No shape of its own nor a pause to its auction.
As the offspring of El Nino, of climate change and plutonium,
Outbid itself onward in joyless wetdrenched pandemonium.

Natures Judgment rained heavy that night on the land,
For mankinds environmental havoc unplanned.
Sparing neither sacred space nor people's public ground,
Greedily the flood waters raced all around.

Global warming the cause for those who can see,
Of cataclysmic upheaval in Gulf Stream - like a banshee.
Creating a convocation of waters finical in their fury,
Falling, swoosh-galling in their appalling abjury.

A Hedgehog hidding from somwhen waterish did declare,
To the welkin above, his will to survive overcoming despair.
'I call to you to stop your heartless cold waters',
He cried out as he swam, rushed and burrowed to new quarters.

Underneath waters and waters and wetness without end,
He swept swiftly down rivers that on his life did intend.
Calling in alarm to the dark minister of the storm,
He hooted and honked - across Fell lands he swarmed.

Past sodden amphibians and limpid land dwellers,
For dry land Hedgehog paddled, with his propellers.
Past Neolithic Shap to Kendal by Kent,
Hedgehog found a hillside to hang on to, his energy spent.

Eventually the raw raintide did lessen its beratement,
Of splashing relentless - at long last an abatement.
And in the stunned silence as waters backdated,
Fellow voyagers across land found themselves translocated.

In the silt slurried earth where we all make our home,
Every creature now surviving went out to roam.
Amidst this sodden turmoil the Hedgehog scurried forth,
And found a wooden shelter in our garden, west by north.

As covenant storms were over, a rainbow raised high,
Resplendant and bright in the returned new blue-sky.
And in his shelter, lets call it an Ark for the moment,
The Hedgehog's name became Noah, for Natures atonement. 

Nocturnal in his new home Noah sings beneath the moon,
Softly and gentle of the earth and the wonders unknown.
His breath is quite gaspy and tuneful - if not musical quite,
Noah's the epitome of Cumbria - he's doing it right.

c.Titus.L. 2016 

This poem is to celebrate the arival of Noah the Hedgehog in our lives after he has survived the trauma of Storm Desmond December 5th 2015 in Cumbria.



Hedgehogs are now a protected species in the Uk 
 There is a Petition to give the hedgehog better legal protection to reverse its decline. Please sign the petition  
( HERE

Following information gratefull shared from Hedgehog Street....

Where do hedgehogs live?

Hedgehogs are found in most parts of Britain, apart from very wet areas and extensive pine forests. They are also often scarce in upland areas such as moorlands and mountainsides. Hedgehogs are predominantly a woodland edge species and can thrive in the mosaic of hedges, fields and woodlands that charaterise the British countryside.
Hedgehogs can be just as happy in rural or urban locations
As the name suggests they are often found near hedgerows, which provide ideal locations for nest sites, a good supply of invertebrates on which they feed, protection from predators and important movement corridors. The pastures used by farmers to raise cattle, sheep or horses are important foraging areas for hedgehogs.
Garden of Hedgehog Champion Joanne from Buckinghamshire

Gardens (and lots of them) provide everything hedgehogs need

Hedgehogs are also abundant in urban and suburban areas. Gardens provide hedgehogs with a plentiful supply of food, both natural and supplementary, as well as many potential nest sites for breeding, resting and hibernation. For these reason urban areas have become a stronghold for hedgehogs in recent years.
Percy the hoglet by Hedgehog Champion Sheila Lodey

Access between gardens is critical for hedgehogs

Hedgehogs have home ranges but are not territorial so will not fight to defend these areas. Radio-tracking studies have found that hedgehog home ranges vary during the year (and between sexes) but are on average around 10—20 hectares and they can roam an average distance of 2km on a single night. Male hedgehogs in the breeding season can cover up to 3km in one night in their search of females!
To help urban hedgehogs gardens need to be linked up so they have a sufficient area to roam – find out how to link your garden.

What do wild hedgehogs eat?

Hedgehogs are widely recognised as a potent ally in the garden, but what do they actually eat?

Hedgehogs mainly eat creepy crawlies

Hedgehogs are generalists and feed on a wide range of things, but the majority of their diet is made up of invertebrates (or creepy crawlies). We know what they eat from scientific studies that have analysed hedgehog poo or looked in the stomachs of hedgehogs killed on roads.
The most important invertebrates in their diet are worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes.
Source: Wroot A. J. (1984) Feeding ecology of the European hedgehogThe big six invertebrates for hedgehogs
As well as these, they also eat a wide range of other insects, and more infrequently will take advantage of carrion, frogs, baby rodents, baby birds, birds' eggs and fallen fruit.
'Hog tackling a frog, by Hedgehog Champion Barbara WitowskaWhen you are putting out food for hedgehogs, you can replicate the hedgehog's natural diet by using unsalted nuts, mealworms and meat-based dog and cat food.


Diseases and parasites

External parasites of the hedgehog

Hedgehog fleas

Hedgehogs are renowned for having fleas. However, the fleas found on hedgehogs are actually hedgehog fleas (scientific name: Archaeopsylla erinacei) which are host specific, meaning they will not survive for long on any other species, be it pets or people. Occasionally hedgehogs can become infested with fleas but usually they will only have a few resident fleas which will cause them no harm.

Hedgehog ticks

Ticks are another common external parasite on hedgehogs. Usually an individual will have a couple of ticks on it though occasionally there are hedgehogs with heavier burdens. Ticks are commonly attached to the underside, behind the ears or the flanks of hedgehogs but they can occur elsewhere as well. Ticks are in general harmless to hedgehogs. However, a high parasite load can be indicative of sickness.
Ticks on a hedgehog by Emily Thomas
Ringworm can also be quite prevalent in hedgehogs, with around a quarter of the national population thought to be affected. Most hedgehogs show no visible symptoms and even those with severe infections can still show little sign of skin infection and can feed normally. Dry, crusty ears are one of the most common symptoms of a ringworm infection.

Internal parasites

Hedgehogs can be host to a number of different parasitic worms, with lungworm being especially prevalent in European hedgehogs. Lungworm infection can result in a dry rattling cough and can prove fatal if left untreated. A mild worm burden is to be expected in most hedgehogs but this should cause few problems to them.

Why are hedgehogs declining?

This issue is not a straightforward one as there could be many factors that are contributing to the decline of hedgehog populations. This is further complicated by populations declining in both urban and rural habitats where the pressures and changes in the environment are very different.

Research is underway to teach us more about why hedgehogs are declining and what we can do about it

PTES and BHPS are currently commissioning various research projects into the reasons for their decline and measures that could be taken to reverse the effects.
Photo by Hedgehog Champion Steve Dickerson from Bristol

→ Tell me more about the wider camapign to help hedgehogs in Britain

 

 

5 comments:

  1. Ragnhildur Iceland18 February 2016 at 04:45

    Beautiful poem! it really should be made into a book. .. Thank you also for all the information about hedgehogs, although we don´t have them here in Iceland, I do love hearing about them and seeing their pictures :-)

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    Replies
    1. So glad you liked the poem Ragnhildur.
      We love our Hedgehogs in the UK and they are now becoming a threatened species so we do what we can to help people protect them.

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    2. I love your poem, and the hedgehog they are so adorable and sweet!! I am sorry they are declining i tried to sign the petition but it is for residents only...but i they do need to be protected. So sweet.

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  2. Loved this so shared it on our facebook page (Herts Hogline)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Lynne, glad you liked it.
      Did you see our new arrival yet?
      Meet Hedgehog Bramble
      ( https://youtu.be/SsQoVDVACkA)
      best wishes.

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