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Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Identifying their behaviour Reply To: Identifying their behaviour

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Hi Francine

It isn’t always easy to tell from people’s descriptions, but it does sound as if there is a bit of courtship circling going on there. This does sometimes go on for hours, but doesn’t always lead to anything else – sometimes one or other of them will get fed up and give up.

The only thing that makes we wonder, slightly, is the ramming and bulldozing. The females will occasionally nudge the males but it is more than a nudge than a bulldozing and males will occasionally seem to nudge under the side of a female. But again, very mild nudging. They wouldn’t want to be being too rough or the female might get fed up and wander off. It’s nothing like the sort of biffing and rolling along which happens between two males.

I wonder whether there were actually 2 males and a female and that the male doing the circling was breaking off every now and then to ‘ram and bulldoze’ (we usually refer to it as biffing) the other male. The time gaps between video clips might have made it appear that it was the same two hogs involved in the circling as the biffing. It does sometimes happen that one male will roll another male up but still break off from circling to give him another nudge now and then, to make sure he stays rolled up.

It’s also possible that one male changes from circling one female to another in a fairly short time space.

It might help if I include here, an explanation I have written for elsewhere of the courtship procedure:

The males circle the females during ‘courtship’ whilst the female is within the ‘circle’ and turns round and round, huffing as she goes, so that her face is roughly facing his and he is unable to get to the rear of her. This circling and huffing can continue for hours. It sometimes makes you wonder how they ever manage to produce any hoglets with all the time they waste circling!

Mature females often start the circling process with a pitter patter of their feet (sometimes described as looking a bit like jig) and tend to go backwards. They huff at the same time, usually in time to the jigging. You can often hear the huffing from a fair way off and that is the sound people often used to hear before ever seeing any hogs, and wonder what what on earth it was.

So from this you will realise that it’s the female who does the huffing. The males will often make themselves tall as seen from the side, which makes then look narrower from the back, and slightly lean in towards the female. Their faces also seem to make a different expression to their normal one.

I hope from this you will be able to work out what was happening. The good thing is it sounds quite likely that there was at least a female as well as at least one male, which has got to be good news for the prospect of any future hoglets.

Good luck and happy hog watching!