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Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings What are the marks? Reply To: What are the marks?

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Hi Leon

I have heard that some, but not all, rescue groups discreetly mark hedgehogs to allow releasers to initially check on the releasees. This is very different from the excessive marking which has become a problem. I think it is highly unlikely that rescue places would be so irresponsible as to use excessively large amounts of substance. Hopefully, also they would only use water based substance, which I fear is not always the case elsewhere.

Whilst there is, perhaps, more justification in that instance to mark the hedgehogs, I question the necessity. Who is the marking ultimately for, the hedgehog or the people who want to satisfy their curiosity by following it. What can anyone do if the hedgehog disappears into someone else’s garden anyway? If, as you say, the hedgehogs you refer to have been micro-chipped, I don’t see the need for them to be marked as well. Bearing in mind that other members of the public mark hogs as well, just because it is marked, wouldn’t necessarily mean it was a former rescue hog. The useful information is not from any marking there may be, but from the micro-chip.

I would hope that any hedgehog lovers would help any hedgehog that they found to be in trouble and not just because one had a mark on it. If it then had a micro-chip and was taken to the place it came from, they would immediately know it came from there, because of that. It could then be checked what medication, etc. it had received. But it is the micro-chip which would provide the information, not any artificial marking.

Having said all that, I repeat again that it is the excessive marking which is the real problem. Most people wouldn’t mind quite so much if the hedgehogs were only marked carefully on a few spines with water-based paint.

Personally, I would only think it acceptable to mark a hedgehog if it was as part of a properly thought out and organised scientific study, for which a licence has been obtained. In that instance the marking would, I would hope, be for the benefit of either a particular hedgehog or for hedgehogs as a whole. That is always my criteria for interacting with a hedgehog at all.

BHPS make the following comments with regard to marking:

{“We’re pretty sure a hedgehog would rather not be marked, but if you are going to do it, please do ensure that you use a non-toxic water-based marker and mark just a few spines of the hedgehog. Keep the mark away from the hedgehog’s face and mark it in the garden on the ground rather than picking it up/bringing it indoors. Please don’t use red as people may mistake it for blood and ‘rescue’ it.  Do not make hedgehog conspicuous to predators.  We have seen some very sad images of poor hedgehogs practically covered in paint!  If you are watching the hedgehogs on a wildlife camera you will often be able to tell them apart over time without the need for marking.”}

I was sorry to hear that the hedgehog your daughter found did not have a good outcome. I hope your other visitors have better luck.