Adult male hog going in mum and baby nest
23rd July 2021 at 10:47 pm #32622
Hi, hoping I could get some advice. I have had a female hedgehog nesting and raising three babies in my garden. They are now running all over the garden and getting underfoot. I have been putting out cat food for them but they are mostly eating garden wildlife.
All was well until a couple of days ago when a large adult appeared on the scene. I saw him going in the nest at night which I thought was curious behaviour. Today I found one of the the hedgehog babies dead near the nest. I removed the but this evening I have seen the mum hedgehog and only one of the babies, I am unsure if the third one is still around. I also saw the adult male going in the nest again tonight, and he then repeatedly followed the female around the garden. There was a lot of sniffing and so on going on, I realise this is mating behaviour but is it likely the male killed the baby? I didn’t think they did things like that but I am uncomfortable that he keeps going in the nest.
Can anyone advise please? Thank you very much.2nd August 2021 at 12:39 pm #32804
Sorry it’s taken so long to give you a reply – I was finding out what others thought, also. But the general consensus seems to be that a male hedgehog wouldn’t prey on hoglets. They are more likely to be be killed by dogs, foxes, etc. (That is, if it was actually killed and didn’t die from some other cause). But once dead they become carrion, so that it’s possible an adult could then see them as food.
Hedgehogs are very promiscuous so that a female could mate with more than one male in a night and litters could even have more than one father. So a male hog would have no idea whether or not the young were his – almost any hoglet could theoretically be the young of an active male. The female is solely responsible for the young after birth – the male takes no part in the raising of the young. But, I have found here that male hogs are generally very tolerant of hoglets and even let them push/ease them off a bowl of food!
It seems likely that the hoglets were old enough that the mother had again become interesting to males and that is what probably attracted him to the area and you did suggest that it looked like courtship behaviour.
As the hoglets grow up they leave the mother (at that stage they still appear quite small) and will likely gradually begin to wander further afield. So that could account for the ‘disappearance’ of other hoglets. It may be that the one you continued to see with the mother was a bit more reluctant to go it alone! But hopefully the hoglets will continue to visit your garden, for a while, at least.
There may even be another litter on the way!
Happy hog watching!8th August 2021 at 9:12 pm #32919
Thanks so much for your response and reassurance. Yeah it just came as a shock to find the little body, I thought they were old enough and strong enough to be safe, at least while they were in my garden. It couldn’t have been killed by a fox or a dog, I have cats and a cat fence up to keep them in, and so no animals much bigger than a hedgehog could get in (I was a bit surprised to find the hedgehogs could get in, they found a gap under the fence) my cats don’t bother them, they are very wary, even of the babies. So I think it must have died naturally somehow, maybe the heat was too much? I do make sure they have water but it was very very hot at that time. It was very close to the nest so think it’s entirely possible it died in there and the mother moved the body for hygiene reasons.
I think the relative safety is probably what appealed to the mother hedgehog. They all have moved out of that nest now but still get regular visits from various hogs, including someone else’s half grown juvenile and a few adults. I have a lovely hedgehog house built and am hoping to build a couple more. Was going to ask, can the houses be quite near each other or should they be separated out? Limited space in the garden could make that difficult. Thanks again for your help.9th August 2021 at 1:47 pm #32941
Yes, it’s very sad finding a dead hedgehog, but the younger ones do have a higher mortality rate, so it could have died naturally, as you say. Have you by any chance recorded the hog on the Big Hedgehog Map (accessed via the Hedgehog Street home page). That way it may help other hogs – it all adds to the wider picture of what is happening to them. But yes, you’re right, water is essential, especially in hot weather – so well done making sure they have some. It’s best left available all day every day, including winter, just in case a very thirsty hog comes along at any time.
Glad to hear they’ve moved out of the nest now. That’s great you still have lots of hogs visiting.
I can’t see any problem with having hog houses close to each other, although I would keep each one as a ‘detached house’ even if they are right next to each other. Then you can have Hedgehog Row – sounds lovely – hope you soon get some tenants!
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