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Home Forums Champions’ chat Identifying Hedgehogs from their Natural Markings Reply To: Identifying Hedgehogs from their Natural Markings

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Hi Trevathick

I kept a copy of some notes re. male or female which I did a while back so will copy it here.

You can’t reliably tell male from female by size. Some females are bigger than some males.

Males have a ‘blob’ roughly mid abdomen, about where you would expect a belly button to be, which can sometimes look a bit like a fifth appendage. So if one conveniently scratches in front of the camera and you can see that, it’s a male. You can also sometimes see underneath them on video, especially if they get up on their legs a bit, although If one is particularly furry underneath you can’t always see for certain.

You might get the opportunity to tell from their behaviour. 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.
The males tend to be more aggressive and roll each other up if they meet. They don’t normally roll up a female except very rarely, seemingly by mistake. The females might on occasion nudge males or other females, but not usually anywhere near as roughly as the males will. Some of that might depend a bit on the character of individual hedgehogs.

The males tend to return from hibernation earlier than the females, so that you might find that most of those around earlier in the year are males.

It is possible that it’s the same hog back within an hour. They sometimes go for a little wander and return fairly soon. But it could equally be a different hog.