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Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Hedgehog identification Reply To: Hedgehog identification

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Hi AndyD

Welcome to the Forum! It’s great to hear that you have nightly visits from the hogs.

It isn’t a daft question at all and similar ones have come up on the Forum many times in the past. It depends a bit on the markings – they can get markings from mud, etc. but those tend to disappear quite quickly, especially when it rains. But some people mark the hogs artificially. Marking hogs is not encouraged.

It is possible to identify the hogs from their natural markings. The following is a copy of some notes I made on the Forum a couple of years ago “Identifying Hedgehogs from their Natural Markings”:

5th September 2019 at 8:14 pm
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I have adapted some notes I made previously which were in the middle of some other posts. I know some people have found them useful in the past and hopefully more of you will now.

It is possible to identify the hogs by their natural markings, and much easier than some people think. Things to look out for are:

Facial markings. (general colour, dark or pale, whether there are stars – as on horses, Triangles coming down from between ears, bars across the face in various places and angles, bars beneath ears, any pale patches, areas of mottled appearance, dark marks from nose to eyes, how far above the eyes the dark mark goes, the shape of it, etc.)

Colour of fur inside ears. On camera dark, medium or light.

Colour of spines (i.e. russety, dull brown, pale, any pale groups of spines, etc.) On camera, dark medium or light.

Variations/gradations in colour of their skirts (the hairy part underneath the spines) Sometimes a skirt can be pale with dark bands going down – a bit like a hedgehog barcode!

Whether there is a marked band between the skirt and the spines and if so, what colour it is. On camera different depth of darkness can be detected.
Whether or not they have a big ruff, although that sometimes changes during the season.


I recommend drawing a template of a hedgehog face. Similar to the inside of an onion. Ears at the top, nose at the bottom and eyes in between. Then all you have to do is fill it in when the hedgehog arrives. Then draw a template of a side view of the hedgehog so that it is ready to fill in too. There is nothing like trying to draw a picture to help you to be more observant and remember better. My current profile picture is a rough template of a hog face. I am not much of an artist, but it doesn’t have to look artistically brilliant to help you with identification.

With hoglets, you will need to revisit your sketch as they grow, as the facial markings, in particular, do seem to develop.

I feed the hogs at a distance that I can see them through binoculars, so I can get a really close up view of their faces. I leave the outside light on whilst I am up to see them and the hogs don’t seem to mind at all.

I know some people put artificial marks on the hogs but, personally, I don’t like to see a hog with ‘graffiti’ on it and I see no need. Fair enough if it is for scientific study, but otherwise, who are we marking them for, the hogs or ourselves? They are wild animals and my feeling is we should only interfere with them if it is for the benefit of the hedgehog or hedgehogs as a whole. They do not belong to us and there may be other people who also see them as ‘their’ hogs who would be very upset to see them marked. Other animals are identified by their natural markings, so why not hedgehogs. Far better to see them in their wild natural beauty.

This method of natural identification, has the benefit, not only that the hedgehog is not being, potentially, distressed by being repeatedly artificially marked, but you will be able to recognise the hedgehog year after year – usually not the case with artificial marking. When a hedgehog arrives, if you don’t recognise it, just check your sketches to see if it is one you have already drawn, if not use another template and fill it in.

Good luck – I hope you will all decide to try natural identification.

Good luck. I hope you continue to enjoy the hog visits – happy hog watching!