I loved Mrs Tiggy-Winkle by Beatrix Potter and remember my dad reading it to me often. So a hedgehog book is always going to make my heart melt. But first, have a confession. I have never seen a hedgehog. In fact it’s on my bucket list. Preferably not one squashed on the road. Anyway, when I saw Hoglets’ Christmas Magic I invited the author Lynette Creswell for a chat about books and everything hedgehogs.
- Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
Hi, I’m Lynette and I’ve been writing for over thirty years. Having suffered a dysfunctional childhood, I was compelled from an early age to write stories that took me to another place. I created new realms and magical creatures influenced by stories such as The Magic Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair, written by Enid Blyton.
Years later I wrote stories for my own children. It gave me such a buzz to see their eyes light up when they realised they were one of my crazy characters. My husband could see how much joy writing gave me and bought me a laptop. He told me it was time to live my dream and write something substantial. I couldn’t wait and in 2012 published my first YA book Sinners of Magic.
When I’m not writing I tootle off to my static caravan in Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire. It’s a wonderful seaside town and my ‘happy place’. We’re situated right by the sea. I enjoy long walks along the prom, eating ice cream and paddling in the sea. I get inspiration for writing new stories there.
2. Is this your first children’s book?
Yes. Hoglets’ Christmas Magic is written for children aged 5+. It tells the tale of Prickles and Primrose, two adorable hedgehogs.
3. What or who inspired you to write this book?
I actually published Hoglets’ Christmas Magic for my blog a couple of Christmases ago and the response was phenomenal. I received a mountain of messages and emails from parents and grandparents enquiring when the story would be published. I can’t deny it’s taken oodles of blood, sweat and a pandemic to get the book published. Yet, now the hoglets are here, I’m glad I listened to my readers and took the plunge.
4. List three interesting facts about yourself.
- I’m scared of Daddy-long-legs.
- I’m partially deaf.
- I gave birth in 1985 to my eldest son in Berlin. The room was right above the medical bunker of Herr Hess, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy-in-Chief.
How to help wild hedgehogs
Once I started raising money for Happy Hogs Hedgehog Rescue Centre, I realised I wanted to do more to help hedgehogs in the wild. I went online and bought a hedgehog house which I placed in a sheltered part of the garden. It has a slate roof and two rooms inside and I filled the bedroom compartment with barley straw, (straw is better than hay as it doesn’t get too damp). Next, I surrounded the hoggies new home with a few plants to make it slightly hidden from view. I also turned the entrance of the house towards the fence so that it made it harder for cats to get their paws inside.
Once the house was secure, I needed to make a feeding station. This is because you mustn’t put food inside a hedgehog house, this must be separate.
Here’s how to make a feeding station of your own…
1. For the structure of your hedgehog feeder, get a plastic see-through box at least 30 cm (12 inches) wide and 45 cm (18 inches) long.
2. You can turn the box either way but make sure you weigh it down with a heavy object so it doesn’t blow away. I used part of a broken patio paving slab.
3. Cover the floor with newspaper and acquire two small bowls. One for food and the other for water.
4. In the side of the box make an entrance hole. Usually the size of a CD disk and use thick tape to smooth the edges to make sure the hedgehog doesn’t hurt itself.
5. Place the bowls inside and away from the entrance. Use specific hedgehog food such as Brambles hedgehog kibble and/or soft wet cat meat (non-fish). Cat food is high in protein which hedgehogs need to survive. Remember NEVER give hedgehogs milk. They’re lactose intolerant and you could cause the hedgehog harm.
6. Keep it safe. Place the feeder a hand’s length away from the wall to prevent cats getting in and stealing food.
Congratulations! You’re now the proud owner of a feeding station and you’re helping hedgehogs in the wild.
Tips for keeping hedgehogs healthy
A hedgehog’s natural diet mainly consists of slugs, ground beetles, caterpillars and worms. Please don’t use slug pellets in your garden. Hedgehogs eat these and can die.
Get more involved!
If you’d like to learn more about hedgehogs you can join the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. You’ll find them on Twitter under @hedgehogsociety or you can visit their website: http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk. The society’s great for sharing valuable information about hedgehogs and if you need help you can contact them directly.
As a parent or teacher who would like more information, there’s a great website People’s Trust for Endangered Species (ptes.org) have information on hedgehogs and on their site you’ll also find a link to Hedgehog Street. This is a website where you become a Hedgehog Champion. If you visit Hedgehogstreet.org you’ll find free downloadable resources, a photo gallery and forum.
Thanks Lynette. Now I’m off to look into building a hedgehog house. Watch this space!