Home › Forums › Hedgehog signs and sightings › Hedgehogs galore! › Reply To: Hedgehogs galore!
Really pleased to hear the hog numbers there have increased. You can’t tell male from female by their size, or their colour. Some females are larger than some males. But, in time, you can tell from their behaviour. Especially if they get involved in some courtship, although I would normally wait until I had seen the behaviour a few times before being certain.
The female is the one who starts huffing, moves backwards and then starts going in a circle so that the male who is circling around her can’t get to the rear end. She is usually moving a bit jerkily in time with the huffing. Because she is going in a circle it looks a bit as if she is doing a jig and she is moving her legs up and down quickly. It can be confused with her being very cross! He will tend to make himself a slightly different shape, taller and thinner and often put his head slightly on one side and down and lean in towards her, whilst still circling. It might appear as if he is being submissive when bending and lowering his head. But also, I always think he might be trying to make himself look bigger (from the side). It isn’t that easy to describe, but once you have seen it very many times, it will become obvious. Although they are going vaguely in a circle, the whole procedure can move along gradually.
The female might look as if she isn’t interested, because she is backing away, but if she is backing and huffing, she may be. The courtship ‘dance’ can go on for hours. It seems he has to persevere to show he is a worthy Father for her hoglets. Sometimes after all that, one or other of them just walks off, so by no means every courtship will lead to hoglets.
The one you think is a male, may or may not be the hoglets’ Father. The males don’t have anything to do with the upbringing and if they meet it is only by chance. The females can indulge in courtships with more than one male during a night and one litter of hoglets can have more than one Father.
In my experience, all adults are very tolerant of hoglets until they reach a certain size and will allow the hoglet to take over a bowl they have been eating from, or share a bowl. This seems to apply to all adults, whether they are the parent or not. This makes it virtually impossible to work out who are actually the parents if you don’t see the hoglets until they have become independant. A hoglet will even sometimes follow a female who is not it’s Mother.
Hope this gives you a bit of an idea.