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    We have two hedgehogs living in huts in our garden. We don’t know their sexes, but one is larger than the other.

    We watch them at night on our Ring camera. Last night, the larger hog was continually circling the smaller one and sniffing. He even seemed to be trying to get his nose underneath her. She wanted nothing to do with him, and kept nudging him away. We never saw them actually mate.

    Is this courtship behaviour? If so, why was she rejecting him?

    Thanks 🦔

    Avatar photo

    Hi Miranda 53

    It’s possible they could have been a male and female, but I couldn’t be certain from your description. Sometimes with 2 males if one doesn’t give in (by rollling right up) a male will go round it nudging it. Seemingly trying to get his nose underneath – maybe showing the other hog that it is still vulnerable if he doesn’t roll right up – potentially still trying to exert his dominance even if the other hog is fairly stationary. But that kind of circling doesn’t last as long as courtship circling.

    With a male and female courting the male will circle the female but she will go round and round as he circles so that her face is always facing him. Her movements are usually slightly jerky and at the same time she huffs rythmically (in time with the jerky movement). (the huffing is quite loud and sometimes is the first thing that makes people realise there are hogs around) Sometimes it is referred to as looking like a jig! But it is also sometimes perceived as her being aggressive. Personally I haven’t seen it in that way, as sometimes a female hog will start huffing before a male begins to circle, almost as if she is trying to attract his attention. She tends to stay pretty much in the same place during the huffing and circling (or the centre of her circle tends to stay in pretty much the same place), although the whole procedure can move slowly along – bearing in mind this can sometimes go on for hours. These courtship ‘dances’ don’t always lead to mating. Sometimes one or other will get fed up and just wander off. It sometimes makes you wonder how they ever manage to produce any hoglets at all.

    With all those spines, a female has to co-operate, so she is able to exert some choice in the matter. When I used to get several females visiting here, they used to make their feelings known if they were interrupted when they were eating – with a few judiciously timed nudges. Especially the older females. You could almost hear her saying ‘just leave me to eat my food in peace’. In general, the females always used to arrive earlier than the males, as if to be sure they could get a good meal before the males arrived. But the more mature females also seemed to show a preference for the more dominant males. You couldn’t blame them – the younger males sometimes made a nuisance of themselves trying to mount the females, but it was never going to lead to anything. The mature females just used to walk away.

    Size isn’t always an indication of male or female. Some older females are quite bit larger than some adult males, although the largest of the males tend to be bigger than the largest females.

    Hopefully you will be able to work out. from the above, what scenario it was. But hopefully there will be some hoglets around from somewhere else, even if not from those two.

    Good luck and happy hog watching.

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