It was nearly the end of August 2008 the last time I posted about Henry. At the time he was looking a bit sluggish and ready to hibernate any day, which would have been around 3-4 weeks earlier than usual. He perked up a bit after warming himself for a short spell in “his house” (a customised rabbit hutch) but hibernated a week later anyway. He spent the winter in his house inside our garage, where there is no risk of frost in normal conditions. When outdoor temperatures threatened to drop well below freezing a week or two ago I thought that it just might get down to freezing inside our garage. So I brought him into our house where he took up residence on the worktop in my hobbies room (that is, the spare bedroom where I play with my paints, musical instruments, computers etc.). This room is cool but quite warm enough for me and I reckoned that if the higher temperature (compared with the garage) caused Henry to wake up, then it would be no bad thing as he was due to do that anyway.
On January 13th this year, about a month earlier than usual, but still after around 17-18 weeks of hibernation Henry appeared from under his pile of hay at around 8.45pm. At the time I was trying to work out how to set out my painting equipment, now that Henry had taken charge of my worktop, when I glanced at his house and there he was peering out at me.
As soon as Henry wakes up each year food is made available though he is unlikely to eat for at least 4-5 days. The day after he wakes up he is given a bath in a shallow plastic tray of lukewarm water, then dried carefully. This is a good time to inspect him closely to make sure that mouth and eyes appear normal and that there are no problems developing elsewhere. He will remain indoors until it is warm enough in the garden for him to go out for an hour or two during the day. Eventually, probably some time in May, he will remain out day and night.
I forgot to ask him whether it was the warmth, the light, or the cool strains of the Dutch Swing College Jazz Band playing quietly in the background, that had awoken him. Knowing Henry, it was probably the latter.