Hedgehog Street is such a great idea, and when it was launched at the beginning of June we did loads of media and were thrilled with the way it had grabbed the attention. Within a few days there were thousands of people signed up and – in fact as of now there are over 11,000 people who are out there actively helping to improve the lot of the hedgehog. And now, thanks to the politicians taking some time off from their mistresses (what is the male version of a mistress?) to be with their families, there has been a second spate of interest. A week or so back I did an interview with The One Show – a BBC1 sofa-based chat thing that I have never watched. I had a few hours, on returning bleary eyed from five days at the wonderful Buddhafield festival, to make my wildlife friendly garden seem more suitable for the non-human wildlife (this required putting the superfluous toys and bikes in the neighbour’s garden). The interviewer (forgotten her name already, must get a brain) teased me about the state of the place, piles of prunings gradually being munched by minibeasties, but it all seemed to go well. She was then off to interview Laura from the PTES and get an idea of how best to link up all the wildlife friendly gardens – the key to Hedgehog Street.

Then today I was back with the wonderful Sue Kidger in Twickenham to be interviewed for the Right/Write/Wright Stuff on Channel 5 (which one is right?). Great fun, camera operator Rosie ended up covered in hedgehog poo and having a little hoglet named after her – assistant David took a photo of me performing for the camera.

And I got photos of the hedgehogs performing for camera too …

And my first half decent photo of a hedgehog self-annointing.

So all in all a very successful day. As yet we have no idea when the pieces will make it to air, but I will let you know when I do.


There are moments when a text message can so completely draw you into a story – the perfect headline. And that is what happened today when Emma sent this simple message:

‘Last night a hedgehog ate my shoe.’

The message raises so many questions – was she wearing the shoes at the time? If so, was she prone in the garden, perhaps having tripped over offending hedgehog? Was this a gentle nibble or a more substantive assault? How were her toes? Were her shoes of finest leather – perhaps understandably attractive? Or do her feet smell of slugs?

Maybe it is the weather, but I was keen to find out more and as she had been deemed inappropriate for her latest appearance in the jury, she was free to pop round for a nice cup of liquorice tea and to show off her shoes.

Okay – that is not as clear as I thought it was going to be, let us try again:

This was not just a casual nibble, this was a feeding frenzy. Emma had gone into the garden to pick up her sandals and found them covered in what she thought was slug slime – then she noticed that they were incomplete and had a horrific thought that there was a shoe-eating slug on the rampage. And then she noticed , looking cheekily on, a hedgehog. There was nothing else around that could possibly have been responsible. But could a hedgehog really eat an entire strap (she checked around, found a few fragments, but most of it had vanished) and cause such damage? “It looked as if they had been attacked by a Jack Russel puppy!” she said. “And it is possible that the shoes were originally inside and the hedgehog had dragged them outside – I only think that because all the cat biscuits had gone as well.”

Now, I have heard stories of hedgehogs getting excited into a frenzy of self-annointing when chewing on leather shoes, but these are plastic – and more than that, this is not just a case of chewing and then frothing up into salivatory froth.

Self-annointing is one of the mysteries of hedgehogs – why do they generate vast amounts of frothy saliva and then contort themselves, spreading it across their spines? The obvious answers do not hold true (for all hedgehogs at least) – it is not noxious substances being applied to the spines to act as an extra layer of protection, or to disguise their scent – as distilled water has been show to set some hogs off. But it is usually strong scents and flavours that get hogs going – for example if you wash your hands with highly scented soaps, all sorts of strange things can happen with some hedgehogs.

And then there was a hedgehog I was radio-tracking in Devon (it was Nigel, again, a hedgehog that taught me so much). I had been watching him eat from along the verge of a quiet lane when he came across a slightly larger black slug – probably around 2cm long. He did not start to eat it straightaway, he began by scrabbling at it, dragging it across the surface of the road, leaving a trail of mucus – seemingly making the slug more palatable. After eating it, however, he starting smacking his lips together and building up a froth of saliva that he then spread across his spines.

So back to Emma and her shoes – is it possible that this young woman has feet that smell like slugs? Was that what set of the shoe-eating rampage? Or perhaps there is a hedgehog out there that has a foot fetish! “I am just glad I was not wearing them at the time,” she said. “Hedgehog hospitalises Oxford woman – now that would have been a headline!”