Two items in the news have me turning to the animal world for this blog.

The human news was astonishing: Someone in court for murdering babies! A surgeon drunk in the operating theatre killing a patient through the silliest mistake!

With news like that, it's better to offer instead a little tribute to a friendly do-gooder from our gardens.

How that prickly but gentle customer, the hedgehog, survives in our motorised world has to be a sort of miracle.

And yet pop out into the garden on almost any non-wintry night of the week, and there you’ll find the critter conscientiously and busily saving your plants from the ravages of slugs and snails.

What price to employ a human gardener to do that anti-slug job? I asked Gumtree and learned very quickly that there are many blokes only too happy – well, only too relatively happy – to get busy on your behalf.

But how much?

Gumtree had 180 ads sown there by gardeners seeking work. Their price is not quite so easily found.

Instead, you could hail a hedgehog and every fat slug and snail – every one of them, guv’ – will be removed at no cost to you, and perhaps as importantly without any need to strew the vegetable and flower bed with malicious and questionable poisons.

To get a gardener the normal way, as I learned a moment ago, you need access to the web, to visit a place where gardeners announce their wares, and try to fit your needs in with their diaries, and
→ explain the job,
→ provide the tools and
→ almost definitely cups of tea and cookies.

To employ a hedgehog? Merely leave a little gap under a boundary fence so the volunteer gardener can slip through and clean up the greedy critters pinching your crop.

What price per hour? Not a bean.

Homebase offers this excellent advice, 'Hedgehogs are among the most popular creatures to visit our gardens.

Children love them

'They are loved by children for their endearing charm and a friend to gardeners for the way they happily consume a variety of pests that would otherwise threaten plants and crops.

‘Sadly, their numbers are threatened by the widespread use of pesticides and expanding urbanisation, so these wonderful little creatures need all the help they can get if they are to survive.’

And they tell us exactly how to go about it.

It's well worth the read, I'd say, even if neighbourhood snails and slugs wouldn't agree.

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