2011/08 – Snap, Crackle & Pop

Snap (male), Crackle (male) & Pop (female) – orphans
admitted 3 July 2011
pre-release Snap & Crackle (14 August 2011), Pop (17 August 2011)
released 21 August 2011

weight on admission 83-85g
weights :
Snap (at pre-release 14 Aug 11 : 567g; weight check 20 Aug 11 : 640g)
Crackle (at pre-release 14 Aug 11 : 556g; weight check 20 Aug 11 : 710g)
Pop (at pre-release 17 Aug 11 : 562g; weight check 20 Aug 11 : 609g)

This terrible trio were rescued from a garden in Chilwell and, following a mad dash across Nottingham on several buses (an achievement in itself given the Sunday timetable !) and a quick swap of a cardboard box at a bus stop in Hathern Green (!), rushed back to Snuffle Lodge.

The rescuers had correctly kept the nest under observation for 24 hours to see whether mum returned, but sadly she did not, meaning either she was killed or injured elsewhere, or the nest had been disturbed and she had done a runner. The triplets then started marching across the rescuer’s garden.

The rescuers provided a towel-covered hot water bottle and plonked the little guys into a deep cardboard box to prevent escape attempts. They did try feeding kitten milk (a very good stopgap measure if no other food is available), but there were no takers – this is probably because the youngsters were still too young to lap for themselves, or it may simply have been that they were too cold and weak.

They were a good weight on admittance to the Lodge. All three had their eyes closed  and one (Snap) was covered in fly eggs – these were all brushed off. All three were warmed up, toiletted (Snap in particular pee-ed for England !)  and fed a warm mixture of fennel tea and RC Babydog formula.

All needed some encouragement to syringe feed at first, but after a little patience took to the syringe quickly and all three actually started lapping from a plant pot saucer for themselves, which was amazing to see for ones so little !

This was coupled with the opening of their eyes during their first night at Snuffle Lodge.

All three had different characters on admission – Snap was very placid, Crackle was reasonably bossy, but Pop was an oversized Mexican jumping bean ! She huffed and puffed and bounced up and down if you so much as looked at her. As they have got older they have become less tolerant of human company which is always good to see. Snap is now the aggressive one of the three, always hissing and curling up whenever we are near him, whilst Crackle and Pop are very relaxed individuals, but not averse to creating a bit of chaos every day in their cage.

All three were in a nursery cage initially on a heatpad, although this was removed on 8 July 2011. They were on 4 hourly supervised feeds, but gradually needed less intervention or encouragement to feed for themselves. Fennel tea was replaced by boiled water from 5 July (fennel tea is used in the early stages to prevent bloat, which hoglets can suffer from and in worse case scenarios can prove fatal).

All put weight on and were developing at very similar rates, although as they got older Crackle was leading the charge towards a releasable weight (550-600g this time of year).

The three were individually marked so we know who was who, so we could identify if any bullying took place – if this happens we sometimes have to separate siblings, although despite some prickly behaviour from the token grumpy triplet, Snap, all three seemed to rub along just fine.

From 10 July the triplets went onto a mix of Babydog and prescription diet food for the first time, and were moved to a bigger cage to accommodate their bulky frames. We eventually sexed them as two males and a female. From 10 July they came out less and less during the day, reverting to true nocturnal wild animals for the first time.

From 16 July the Babydog was replaced with boiled water to create a gloopy mess of A/D and water, giving the hogs even more ammunition to decorate their cage from head to toe in food. We attempted to wean them off the A/D but this proved very difficult to do (it’s very expensive food so the sooner we can get them off it the better !).

As at 20 July we had tried A/D with puppy food (rejected), A/D with kitten food (left the kitten food ate the rest), A/D on its own without water (bowls licked clean), mashed puppy food and water (rejected), kittne biscuits (some interest then casual indifference) and dried mealworms (frenzied feeding). As dried mealworms are less than ideal as a main diet we were tearing our hair out.

This ‘fiddling’ with the diet is quite usual for hoglets raised as babies – like humans they can be extremely fussy about they eat and it’s often the case of striking the right balance. As a consequence there is usually a period where there are much smaller weight gains, and even weight losses, as we try to meet their very fussy preferences. This is perfectly normal.

Thankfully, from 31 July 2011 we finally settled them on kitten and cat food (after about the 29th attempt !) and consequently  the weight started piling on. However, they later switched to puppy food (something which again they had rejected previously) and were positively thriving.

Snap was moved to his own cage on 8 August as he was becoming increasingly hostile towards his siblings, and three hogs of their size in one cage was also becoming unmanageable (and very messy !).  Snap celebrated his new found independence by piling on a staggering 53g overnight. He also switched from puppy food to dry hedgehog food (with some gusto, it has to be said), and had put enough weight on to be considered for pre-release on 14 August, when he had a reunion with his brother Crackle, who was also put into the same pre-release pen on that day.

The female, Pop, was understandably lagging behind her siblings by about 50-60g, so she remained indoors for three days to give her a chance to catch up – she rejoined her brothers on 17 August in the pre-release pen – they promptly all squeezed into one hedgehog house…

The three gained their independence on 21 August (a Sunday night to avoid the likelihood of garden-related ‘incidents’) and are now back at large in the wild.