The last thing Somerset West resident, Gavin Hardres-Williams, expected to encounter when he went out for his early morning walk with walking-buddy Bill Mycock, last Monday morning at 6.15am, was a rather large porcupine.
Gavin, who lives in Mcleod Street, takes up the story: “I’d opened the gate, and as I was reversing the car out, I saw this porcupine casually walking in and down the driveway.
“I stopped the car and closed the gate, and he continued down the driveway to the garage so I followed him. He walked right around the house and then came back, went behind the dustbin and then to the far corner across the lawn.”
Rather than trying to apprehend the intruder himself, Gavin decided to go for his walk, and deal with the matter later.
“I told my wife, Jill, what had happened and locked our dogs in the house, as I didn’t want them coming face-to-face with the porcupine.”
Gavin then met up with Bill, who upon hearing the tale, suggested Gavin contact Guy Pluck, who is apparently the go-to person in such cases.
Returning home at about 8am, Gavin went in search of his “visitor”. “I searched everywhere, but to no avail,” says Gavin. “I do have a shed in the garden, which is covered in ivy, and it is very close to the wall, so I figured he’d probably gone behind the shed and hidden there.”
A phone call to Guy Pluck revealed that porcupines are masters at hiding themselves, so Gavin abandoned the search, and headed to the office for the day.
“My son, Gareth, and our granddaughter, Amelie, arrived for a visit in the early evening and we spent some time in the garden playing charades and board games, but there was no sign of the porcupine,” says Gavin.
“They went off the bed at about 9pm, and I settled down in the living room with a cup of tea.
“I looked up and lo and behold, in walked the porcupine, almost as if he had come to find me,” Gavin says.
“When he got to the carpet, he inexplicably froze, and didn’t move a muscle. I went and called Gareth and Amelie so they could take a look, and Gareth actually tossed a cushion in front of the porcupine so it wouldn’t walk onto the carpet.”
Gavin eventually got hold of Guy, and while waiting for him to arrive, he took a piece of advice that Bill had given him during their morning walk: feed the porcupine an apple.
“I cut it in half, and put the one piece about two feet in front of his nose.
“He sniffed, then walked to it, picked it up between his front paws and ate it.
“I gave him the second piece to eat while we waited for Guy, who arrived at about 9.45pm, armed with the necessary porcupine-snaring equipment.
“Guy had a 240-litre wheelie bin, a blanket and a piece of rope,” says Gavin, but as it happened the latter two items of equipment played no part in capturing the unusual visitor.
“Guy laid the bin down on its side and swung the lid open. I walked along the wall by the fireplace to stop the porcupine if he went that way, but he walked under the coffee table to the other side of the room, behind the settee, then between the settee and the standard lamp, and straight into the bin.
“It looked to me like he found the dark corner, which the bin provided, attractive,” says Gavin.
Guy quickly dropped the lid of the bin, set it upright, and took it off to the Helderberg Nature Reserve where he released the porcupine into the wild.
Where the porcupine came from in such a built up area, remains a mystery, but Gavin has a theory.
“There is a great deal of road work going on in Irene Avenue, and I believe this fellow lived in the Geelsloot (there is a greenbelt behind Southey Vines, bordered by Dummer Street, Irene Avenue and Mcleod Street through which the Geelsloot flows) and was disturbed by the the roadworks.”