14. Falderals (i)

These clips are all best seen full screen and preferably on a decent-sized desk-top monitor. Much of the detail is too small to be seen easily on a phone or tablet. Press ESC to exit full screen.

1. Land Speed Record = 2.3011 m.p.h.

Or 2 miles, 529 yards, 2 feet and 911/16 inches in one hour. Roughly.

The paving slabs measure 18″ square. From the starting block to the finish-line [the joint nearest the camera in the clip] the hedgehog traversed 9 tiles in all = 13½ feet. Time taken approx. 4 seconds according to the official time-keeper who can be seen in the shadows on the left.

2. The Fall

Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk! (Finnegans Wake)

Gravity sucks. On this occasion the fall seems to have been carelessness rather than the result of a helping hand from another urchin. The faller wandered off apparently none the worse for wear. A hedgehog’s prickles must act as pretty efficient shock-absorbers. [The irritating vegetation blocking a clear view of the steps has since been lopped.]

3. Hedgehog Snowball

The ‘snow’ is composed of petals from a mock orange.

4. Stairway to Heaven

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed…

… because it’s probably just courting hedgehogs. The only noise I have ever heard a hedgehog emit is snorting and snuffling. They seem to fight in stoic silence. This video shows typical courtship behaviour, although it is not usually performed on steps. The male will circle round the female presumably with the ultimate intention of getting behind her. She, on the other hand, counters his manoeuvrings by turning to face him. The whole thing evokes a slightly edgy courtly dance which can last from a few minutes to half and hour or more. The place where I generally witness this behaviour is on the path shown above, where there is both food and water. I have never witnessed consummation which must occur at some stage or there would be no hedgehogs. What generally happens when I am watching is the male seems to have a momentary lapse of concentration from the job in hand to drink or have a quick bite to eat. Having satisfied hunger or thirst he returns to the fray only to find that the female has done a runner. He will generally charge off in hot pursuit. Males meeting other males will almost invariably fight. This ranges from a bit of pushing and shoving to vicious conflict worthy the name of dog-fight. See next.

5. Dogfight

Fights can be short and not-so-sweet (as above) or prolonged bouts of pretty harmless pushing and shoving. Generally one hedgehog will submit early on, by digging in their feet while presenting their back to their opponent before gradually adopting the ultimate defensive posture of balling. Having done the latter, the aggressor will generally wander off only to return a few times to deliver a further kicking. The victims tend to remain stationary for several minutes until well after the final attack to ensure that their opponent has withdrawn. They then uncurl, seemingly none the worse for wear, and resume hedgehoggy business.

6. Problem Drinker

Advice to hedgehogs; don’t put your foot in it.