The Night A Hedgehog Attacked My Hen
It was a summer Saturday night. And I’d forgotten to close the door to the chook house.
3 o’ clock in the morning and David and I were awoken to the sound of a chicken screaming. No, I’m not using poetic language here, it was definitely a chook and it was definitely screaming. I’d never heard anything like it before. We hopped out of bed quick as a clichéd flash and ran outside to check the chook house. The door was open; the chook house was empty. This particular chook house was a converted dog kennel used by two of our chooks, Big Foot and one-legged Monkey. There are no perches inside and the two chooks spent every night safe and snuggled on the floor. Safe unless you leave the door open at night of course.
An investigation in the dark with a torch found Big Foot wandering around close by. But Monkey was squashed up against the gate … ON TOP of a hedgehog. She couldn’t move as she was pinned against the gate and stuck on the hedgehog’s spines. And screaming. We lifted her off, brought her inside, and checked her over. A few feathers missing but otherwise unharmed. (Phew). I rustled up a cheese and grape salad (her favourite dish) and she tucked in and calmed down. Put both chooks to bed, shut the door, and the night’s drama was over.
The next day I had a peruse on the net for chook-hedgehog incidents wondering if this had happended to anybody else and I found this hedgehog attack story that also happened in New Zealand. One chook was found dead in the morning with a stoat as a primary suspect, but the next night the owner heard a commotion in the hen house, went out and found a hedgehog gripping one of the chook’s legs in its mouth. I found out that although rare, hedgehogs do sometimes attack adult chooks by holding them firmly by the mouth and just hanging on until the poor chook dies of exhaustion.
Who would have thought it? I never knew that hedgehogs, those adorable, prickly beasties, would pose such a threat to full-grown chooks. They were too ‘nice’ to something like that, surely.
There was a second, less dramatic, hedgehog incident a few months later. It was early in the evening, only just dark and I went to the close the chook house door. Monkey was standing outside which was unusual as she usually took herself to bed. It was then that I found a hedgehog curled up asleep on her straw bed. I removed the intruder and then waited for about 10 minutes whilst Monkey looked in the door checking out every corner to see if it was safe. Finally she decided it was and hopped in.
So there it is chook owners, beware the killer hedgehogs. And don’t forget to close the chook door at night.