My prickly co-blogger had a very curious experience last night, which we still haven’t been able to clarify, and probably never will.
I awoke to find a pool of blood next to the bed. It would have been of a disturbing size if it were human blood, but Mrs Hickory and I were free from injury, so we thought of our little zoo. The only one who was free that night was the hedgehog, so we went to his sleeping place to check. He was stained with blood on the left side of the neck, and on the leg. He didn’t look happy (hedgehogs nearly always look neurotic, but there is good neurotic and bad neurotic). On the other hand, he was sleeping and he didn’t try to scratch the wounded area.
It’s very difficult to inspect the flesh of a frightened hedgehog, as they refuse to unwind, so we went to the vet for a second opinion. She stuck a needle in him and when he was no longer in a position to argue, had a good look. She determined, she was pretty certain, that the blood was not his. He had no wounds in that area, and it hadn’t come from the mouth or the anus (I already knew that, as he could not have survived vomiting or excreting that quantity of blood. I wouldn’t have expected him to survive even if had come from a wound, and, although he wasn’t quite normal, he didn’t look as though he were about to join the five elements).
So it turned out that the worst thing that had happened to him that day was to be hauled from his bed and have a needle stuck in him. I paid the vet a handsome sum for this information and was delighted to do so. Hickory awoke, looked askance with a mixture of pain and forgiveness, and went back to sleep in his bed, as soon as we gave him his socks back.
This leaves a number of options, none of them very likely. Did he find a small mammal, a mouse or shrew, perhaps, and attack it? A European hedgehog would, but the African hedgehogs are too small. And where is the deceased, anyway? Under the furniture, possibly, but we have found nothing, and he hasn’t returned to it. Not very likely.
So, did a bird or a bat fly through the window, was it followed by a hawk, did they fight, did the hawk leave with its bloody prey, and did Hickory run into the pool of blood on his nightly rounds? And did we sleep through all this, although it happened mere feet from us in the same room? Strange as it sounds, it is most likely what happened. At least, I can think of nothing better. Unless it wasn’t blood at all. But it looked like it, it smelt like it and the vet thought it was. She didn’t do the CSI test, but she knows blood when she sees it.
My prickly friend is now fine, hungry and full of energy. He has even forgiven us for what we did to him. He has probably forgotten what happened, and we shall never know.