I agree with you – it does seem a strange thing to do to an animal. When I mention to people outside the ‘hedgehog community’ that some people mark hedgehogs, they think it very strange indeed. Sadly we are getting to the stage where you are far more likely to see a marked hedgehog than an unmarked one. The people who are doing the marking seem to, often, consider themselves to be hedgehog lovers.
Not only could certain of the markings compromise hedgehogs’ camouflage, but it could potentially impact on their social interactions. I have noticed this year, when the marking seems to have increased in this area, that some of the males have been more aggressive than in previous years. This could be a coincidence, but equally, maybe not. Personally, I am also concerned that it could impact on their breeding abilities. Hedgehogs rely heavily on their sense of smell and a ‘marked’ female, may possibly not smell ‘right’ to the males and therefore be less interesting. Breeding is a bit precarious at the best of times, the hogs could really do without any more obstacles in their paths. I have noticed recently that the males are tending to give up on their circling more quickly than usual. Is it just a coincidence that it is when more of the females have been marked? It would be difficult to prove this either way, but given the state of the hedgehog population, erring on the side of caution would seem to make sense.
To me, part of the enjoyment of watching the hedgehogs is to try to identify them by their own natural markings. The problem is, the artificial marking is actually making this more difficult. Sometimes changing the general colour of their spines and also disguising their faces and even the fur on their skirts.
My heart falls when I see yet another poor hedgehog remarked. It must be stressful for them to be repeatedly caught and forcibly restrained whilst people are putting these marks on. Let alone what it may be doing to their metabolism if they ingest any of the substance or it permeates through their skin.
On a lighter note – very good videos. Is this an urban garden? – With the fox.