Oh yes that reminds me, my wife said the evening before last.
(Have I mentioned that, right after I arrive home from work, I am generally in a disoriented state of mind and need, usually, ten minutes in a sensory deprivation tank, which I never get?)
So I said to my wife, whatever the question is, the answer is Yes.
She and Gamma, who was in on the question, both laughed. So we can take the hedgehog over the winter?
I sighed. After the last ones, I had sworn off hedgehogs. They made a big mess in our cellar, see, with their feces, marking their territory as high as they could reach. Also, their live mealworms all got away and infested our cellar.
I thought about it. I released those two into the woods the day Gamma was born.
Meaning this would give her an experience her big sister had enjoyed. So, yeah, sure, okay, why not.
They bought hedgehog supplies yesterday and picked it up at a friend’s house and brought it home.
It was curled up, motionless, in a shoebox full of maple eaves on our kitchen floor when I got home.
There had been some disagreement on the hedgehog’s name, and even on whether our friends wanted to give it up after all. They had kind of fallen in love with it. It was very cute and my wife’s friend’s husband had prepared a large box for it and written “Hamster!” on the side of the box, which I guess he thought was a cute name for a tiny hedgehog.
Did you know that there seem to be two types of hedgehogs (at least)? Some with black faces, and some with lighter-colored faces?
This one had a black face, so Gamma had renamed it Blacky.
She had to think about it for some time; something with Black, she knew that.
She finally settled on Blacky.
We cut some newspapers into strips, Gamma and I, and fluffed them in the big box and carried animal and box upstairs. It has to be light and warm, Gamma said, the room where we stow Blacky. I finally convinced her that “light” meant during the day, and that it was okay to let it sleep in a dark room at night.
We put dishes of food and water in its box and left Blacky alone.
I know hedgehogs are supposed to be wild and curl up when threatened, but it sort of bothered me that not once did I see Blacky move.
And I looked close. I put on my reading glasses and sat there watching for the rise and fall of a tiny ribcage.
Hedgehogs should weigh over 500g if they want to hibernate outside. Under that, you’re allowed to help them survive the winter. Blacky looked like it weighed 150g at most. It looked under 2 months old.
Blacky is tired, I told Gamma.
When she got up this morning, she went straight to our office where Blacky was, and checked on him.
According to Gamma, Blacky was breathing.
We might have to take Blacky to the vet, I told her. Blacky’s not looking that great. Now let’s go have breakfast and let him rest.
After breakfast she was straight back up watching him again. I dunno. She had a big German test at school today, I didn’t want to upset her with my suspicions. In fact, I was under direct orders from Alpha not to upset her with my suspicions. Like, the fact that Blacky didn’t move at all during the night and was still in the same position doesn’t bode well.
We’ll check him over this afternoon, or this evening, when I get home, I told her. Maybe he’ll have to go back to the vet, I said. Maybe he’s already hibernating.
She is so happy to be saving a little hedgehog, you see.
Blacky was still in the same position when I got home in the evening. I held it in my hand for half an hour, with my glasses on, looking for signs of life, but none were to be had. Nothing alive can play dead that well. Plus there was the smell.
As Gamma says, everything is the same as three days ago, except we have a dead hedgehog in the cellar. The funeral is tonight.