Up until a few days ago, our neighbor, Herr Igel, was coming to visit every evening.
He always kept the same routine.
At exactly 7:30PM, he would emerge from his overgrown home and waddle across the grass to our garden. From our window, we would spy on him as he sniffed the ground for food, snorting like a pig and occasionally stopping to scratch himself. Eventually, he’d make his way over to the makeshift birdbath we have next to our dying herb garden. He would drink non-stop for a full minute. Then, he’d disappear into the thicket of our tomato plants and raspberry bush, not to be seen again until the next night.
My husband tried a few times to take photos of him in the bird bath, but (like most Germans) Herr Igel was camera shy.
We haven’t seen Mr. Igel the past few days, and I have the feeling we won’t see him again. At least, not until next year. Hedgehogs, it turns out, don’t need that much water. Now that we’ve had our last heatwave of 2019, he’s probably content to stay in the shrubbery (sadly, we have no hedges). He may even hibernate soon, if it actually gets cold enough this Winter.
Mr. Igel is the first hedgehog I’ve ever seen. That is, if you don’t count the one I saw on a dark pedestrian path my first year in Germany.
When my husband said, “oh hey, that’s a hedgehog” in reference to a wobbly ball slowly moving through the grass, I believed him. He’s the expert, after all. Up ahead, under the lone street lamp on the path, I could see a marten much more clearly as it tried to run backwards away from us. Several rabbits were lazing about on the grass, either unable to see us in the dark or confident they could get away if need-be.
Although Wolfsburg is a manufacturing city, it’s teeming with wildlife. It’s not just hedgehogs and martens, either. Wolfsburg has a large nature preserve that (so I’ve been told) expands whenever Volkswagen expands. Even outside of the preserve, I regularly see foxes, hawks, storks, cranes, and countless rabbits. There’s also a lot of insects, if you’re interested in that kind of thing. I’m personally not, but I am glad they’re here if for no other reason than to be hedgehog food.
Supposedly, there are also wild pigs that come out at night. Our apartment complex has huge holes all over the grounds, where someone has been digging around. I personally think it’s the rabbits, but my husband (and everyone else) insists it’s the wild pigs.
As exciting as it is when I see a fox or a hawk, Mr. Igel remains my favorite sighting. I hope we’ll see him again if we’re still in this apartment next Summer.
I’ll have the birdbath ready.
My husband took the main photo for this post. If you’d like to see more of his photography, including photos from his trips to places like Beijing and Italy, go to: jansblog.org