Hi hedgehog legs
Lovely to see all the hogs there.
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.
Colour of spines (i.e. russety, dull brown, pale, any pale groups of spines, etc.)
Variations/gradations in colour of their skirts. (sometimes a skirt can be pale with dark bands going down – like a hedgehog barcode)
Whether there is a marked band between the skirt and the spines and if so, what colour it is.
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 it 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. This method has the benefit, not only that the hedgehog is not being, potentially, distressed by being repeatedly remarked, but you will be able to recognise the hedgehog year after year. 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. I have temporarily changed my profile picture to 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 keep revisiting 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 during feeding time – normally 2 – 3 hours 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. 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.
You will probably find that the hogs are not always tolerant of each other. I find the females tend to be more so, but the males will biff and roll or push another hog along for some distance if there is an interesting female around and sometimes even if there isn’t!
Good luck – I hope you will decide to try natural identification.