Wildlife Holiday News

Ever Cuddled a Hedgehog?

Richard Sayle travelled on our 'Go Slow in Alderney'  tour and submitted this entry to our writing competition

Blonde Hedgehog by Martin Batt

Leaving the probable highlight of a Naturetrek holiday until the last evening always carries a risk. Nature doesn’t turn up, the weather isn’t friendly, you’re off home in the morning; disappointment all round.

So there we were lurching around in the dark on Alderney’s golf course looking not for lost golf balls but…. hedgehogs. The local blonde variety of course. Unusually, these are not albino but leucistic and thus, as it were, natural blondes!

Torchlights swept the ground in staccato fashion as we tumbled out of John’s minibus. A few

expectant moments and then…. 

“There, there!”

Thirty yards away, bumbling along minding his own business, was the star of Alderney wildlife – a blond, prickly bundle of lovability about to have the peace and calm of his evening dining perambulations disturbed.

Guided by Suzy Weir, Alderney’s hedgehog expert, we approached on virtual tiptoe, receiving only a casual glance from the hedgehog. Suzy explained that they use their snouts to burrow slightly down into the earth and then eat up whatever lies just below the surface. 

By this time, Jane, one of our number, was completely smitten. On being told by Suzy that Alderney’s gorgeous blondes don’t just tolerate but actually like to be handled, Jane wasted no time and gave it a good cuddle. To be truthful, by then an effective queue was forming. When it got to my turn, the hedgehog buried its head in my hands, equal parts defence and shyness. So I applied the extraordinary advice to stroke it from the neck backwards… and was rewarded with a damp snout gliding over my palm as it looked up at me with an ambivalent mix of meekness and curiosity.

To the joy of all, further wandering across the fairways and greens revealed yet more of these fascinating animals. Hedgehogs are having a difficult enough time on the mainland; I hadn’t seen one for over ten years. Yet here we were on hands and knees, peering in careful close up at this unique variation of one of Britain’s most loved animals.

Meanwhile, with increasing impatience at being ignored, bats angled and skittered over us. The moon glowed occasionally from behind some clouds. For all we cared or noticed, a Bald Eagle and a couple of Grizzlies could have walked past! Total immersion and concentration on these superb animals. Who said that Britain’s wildlife is dull?

In conclusion, no disappointment, only smiles all round. Not only did Nature make its appearance but it warmed our hearts and gladdened our souls. What a wonderful final night!

Read more about our 'Go Slow in Alderney' holiday.