This is a 100% Nicky page.
Of course, Nicky was our favorite hedgehog, 'cause he was exceptionally domesticated and he seems to be a really brainy guy.
This picture shows the final phase of him anointing at a steep place in our garden. It was during a first outdoor expedition, one week befor he was released to freedom. The following 4 pictures are snapshots of this action. I made an animated GIF from it (see homepage).
The hedgehogs should be set free in spring, late April or May where no more frost occurs and you can be sure that there is enough food to find. If a foundling weighs over 700 grams in late autumn and the weather conditions are good it can be released before the winter comes so it may go into it's natural hibernation.
Hibernation is a great wonder of nature. The body temperature and all life functions are dramatically reduced. In this state the hedgehog can survive the frosty month in a protected refuge. Nevertheless, it needs a lot of power which must be accumulated as fat deposits. The awaking is especially hard, it can take more than 2 hours.
This is the picture I love the most. Nicky is totally relaxed sleeping on Elfi's
chest. Unbelievable, the softness of his spiny coat.
Domesticated hedgehogs like to snuggle against a warm human body. But, please be tolerant if you get a little wet or ... ! If the time is coming to set your hedgehog free you should reduce your contact with it. During the last week serve only it's food - no caressing, no snuggling - I know, it's hard. But, the hedgies must find to their natural instincts.
Fearing humans and other big animals causes a hedgehog to form into a ball which is very important for it's protection.
Nicky gets his first experiencies in walking over natural ground. Our garden is the
place where he'll be set free. He looks a little doubtful in this picture, but that does
not last for long.
Excursions in the garden are a good way to learn about the natural environment. Be attentive to not give the hedgehog a chance to escape, they can be very speedy! Be very carefully choosing the proper environment to release your hedgehogs.
In the natural habitat there should be meadows and bushes - not pure forest - left unchanged as far as possible. Hedgehogs prefer the lowland, because the higher you go the harder the micro-climate will be. The landscape should contain a minimum of roads. Actually, a garden - like our's - can meet these requirements.
Nicky is looking for a movie to see on TV this night. No - his interest is focused
at the corner behind. There is a chaotic cable-entanglement which Nicky loved to
use as his gentlemen's room. What a terrible job to clean it after that!
Hedgehogs nibble at everything they meet on their way. Avoid any electrical devices reachable to them.
Hedgehogs are very curious animals, they have to be to scan their territory for food every night.