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Mary the Hedgehog returns to Holbeach

A few weeks ago, we found a small hedgehog in a plastic bag in our shed. We contacted Dowsdale Hedgehog Sanctuary, near Whaplode Drove, and they collected our little friend, so it could receive some expert care.

We had initially named our hedgehog Stuart, after rugby player Stuart Hogg (Dougie's suggestion - no surprise there.) But when we heard Stuart was a little lady, she was swiftly renamed Mary Stuart.

Mary's little spa break lasted for just over a month. In that time, she was treated for worms, sprinkled with flea powder and fed like the Queen that she is, until she was a good weight for release back into the wild.

We collected her from the sanctuary last week so that we could set her free in our garden. We thought she probably had some friends waiting for her, going by the little deposits I'd seen all over the lawn.

How did Mary enjoy her little holiday? By all accounts, she had a marvellous time, though I was told she is a messy girl and she often disgraced herself by frequently pooing in her water bowl and knocking the bowl over. Oh, Mary!

She was fast asleep as we drove back to Holbeach and we were told to wait until after 8pm before releasing her. In the meantime, we left her in her box in the utility room. Bang on time, Mary woke up around 8pm: we could hear shuffling and she had obviously already left us a present as the smell from the box was very strong.

We couldn't get into the garden quick enough. I removed the shredded paper and laid the box on its side. No movement. We tore off two sides of the box; Mary was curled up in the corner, not looking at all keen on coming out to play.

Eventually, with all four sides of the box laid flat, she hesitantly made a move, stepping on the special biscuits which had been left in the box for her ride home. Progress was initially slow as she walked on the grass but then, after a few more steps, something clicked and she scuttled off at speed towards the bushes at the back of the garden, diving underneath them.

I was curious about Mary and what was likely to happen to her. As she is about two years old, she is able to have babies and with the mating season in full swing at the moment, she has some time to make up, which might explain her speedy dash to the undergrowth.

The male hedgehogs will be keen to show off to Mary, she may even have a couple of suitors fighting over her. In that respect, our Mary Stuart isn't that different from her regal namesake.

Huge thanks to Dowsdale Hedgehog Sanctuary for looking after Mary. If you need any advice on hedgehogs or you can help this charity with donations, do get in touch with them.

If you'd like to view a little video of Mary, Queen of Hogs, being released, you can see it on my blog, www.mumsgoneto.co.uk.

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