Defending Hog House and Food Supply
6th September 2017 at 9:24 pm #7608
I have had 2 visiting male hogs in my garden of late one of which has taken up residence in my hog house using it as a day nest for the past 2 weeks or so. The resident hog wakes up around 8pm and comes out for his brekkie (or is it lunch/dinner in hog eyes?) and generally hangs around for an hour or so in the garden and goes off no doubt returning long after I have gone to bed to settle back down in his house as I don’t see him after that (I find it fascinating what he drags in his house and how he closes up the opening behind him using twigs, leafs, grass etc). The other hog turns up about 10.30pm so they never meet…until a few nights ago when they had the inevitable hog fight although nowhere near as aggressive as earlier in the season (guess less testosterone pumping round the system maybe?).
Since the fight the resident hog has changed its habits as it now stays around the garden for hours as if waiting for the other hog which keeps turning up around the same time to receive another bashing. Sometimes the late arriving hog just sits there snorting and puffing and looking at the other hog which ignores it until it decides its bashing time again. Once the hog under attack is rolled in to its ball, still snorting and puffing, the other hog sits beside it and has a good scratch and they stay like this for 10-20 minutes at a time.
In summary it seems my resident hog has changed its habits staying nearby to wait for the other hog to arrive which makes me think its protecting its home as well as its food source from this interloper or maybe hogs wouldn’t really think this deeply and its coincidence?9th September 2017 at 7:45 pm #7657
Interesting to hear your description. Interesting to see the hog shutting himself in as well. Is the hog house near the feeding station? I have two that are, but they don’t get used as a regular sleeping places, rather just short stays (hours rather than days), especially in the spring and autumn and probably, mostly by youngsters who are late leaving for hibernation and the males who return early. I have always thought that they didn’t take up residence for longer because there was too much coming and going of other hogs near the feeding area.
My feeling, for what it’s worth, is that they aren’t protecting the food, as such, but rather, that a male hog just doesn’t like other, in particular male, hogs being in his space. So that might include their current home. I have seen them on video fighting in a different part of my garden, so that couldn’t have been about food. I think they just tend to have more altercations at the feeding area, because that is where they are congregating. I guess we’ll never know for sure – who are we to guess what’s going on in a hedgehog’s head?!
I, too, am not seeing quite as strong aggression recently, but, (a) the male hogs around here at the moment are less dominant ones and (b) maybe they don’t want to waste too much energy at this time of year, when they will be hibernating shortly and need to make sure they have put on plenty of weight. They sometimes just run away if they hear another hog approaching. One of them is still showing interest in the females, though. Not the best idea now, but maybe he just didn’t get the chance to do much ‘courting’ when the more dominant males were around.10th September 2017 at 7:15 pm #7668
The hog house is relatively near the feeding area. The hog house is also near my woodpile and an area of leaf litter and compost area which the hog rummages around in for some time (the idea is this encourages natural food in addition to my supplementary food and hopefully it works as I guess the hog isn’t doing a spot of gardening and is finding stuff to eat).
My hog house has, sadly, never been used for hibernation although last year it was often used as an occasional day nest. Fast forward to this year nothing seems to have used it until this hog took up residence. I don’t know that much about hogs (although I’m learning) but I know a fair bit about birds and know they defend potential nest sites weeks/months before they take up residence, It occurred to me that this hog may have decided that this house may be a good place to hibernate, fingers crossed :), and might be defending it from other hogs that might want to evict him? Probably wide of the mark but he is still using it and I have never had a hog been in there this long.
I think you are right about the food as the resident hog snuffles this up before the other hog turns up and then I put some more out for the later arriving hog so he has something to eat – maybe the resident hog has clocked was is going on e.g. he eats the first lot and then, miraculously, another lot of food turns up so why rush off!
Last few nights the same pattern has been occurring however the submissive hog now doesn’t get bashed by the resident hog. It doesn’t now roll in to a ball it just sits there puffing and snorting looking at the other hog sometimes backing off slowly. The resident hog does go over to it and cocks it head next to it almost as if it was listening to make sure the noises being made are suitably submissive and that he is being acknowledged as being the dominant hog (I have seen this behaviour before) then he goes off and they then both get back to eating until the dominant hog pops back to the submissive hog and the process starts again.
All said and done I really enjoy observing their traits, habits and actions but don’t profess to understand all that I see I just spell it out on this forum as to what goes on with our local hogs and see what others think and hopefully they may be able to shed some light like your goodself.
Yes its a bit late for breeding as any resulting hoglets will have little or no chance of survival without help but boys will be boys!10th September 2017 at 8:10 pm #7670
Are you sure that both the hogs are males, because what you are describing – the hog puffing and snorting and going backwards – sounds more like a female to me. I have never seen a male attacking a female here before, but if it was a fairly immature female, she may have been a bit timid and have thought she was going to be attacked and rolled up to avoid it. Or he could have been confused by her scent and been a bit over bumptious. The rest of HIS behaviour (in your recent description) sounds like a male thinking of making advances to a female. They often go up to them and almost turn their heads a bit sideways. This sometimes then develops into a courtship ‘dance’. This could also explain why he waited for the other hog to appear, but the fact it did not proceed MAY, perhaps, have indicated she was a fairly young female. Or, I sometimes think they must be able to tell when a female is pregnant or, perhaps even nursing but that is only me wondering.
Re. the nesting. It certainly sounds promising for hibernation, but I have never (knowingly) had a hog hibernate in my garden. You are very lucky he’s nesting in your hog box at all and fingers crossed for a safe hibernation. Interesting that it is so near the feeding area. Have you joined in the hog house survey?12th September 2017 at 6:44 pm #7703
Thanks for your post and I think you are right what I have seen the past few nights is a female hog as she keeps coming around about the same time and the male hog is completely tolerant of her and in fact now pays her no attention whatsover! I think what has happened here is there definitely were 2 males fighting but I have wrongly identified this female hog as the same hog receiving the bashing (I’m not bad at identifying individual hogs but I certianly don’t get it right all the time) hence what I thought was a change in behaviour towards what I thought was the same hog is actually a different hog! I’m now thinking there were probably 3 hogs, 2 males and 1 female, with the female probably out of sight and coming in to view when the other male hog left the scene and I was mistaking this for the same hog…possibly.
The (definite) male hog is still using the hog house and its been there for over 3 weeks now. My understanding was that they moved around using different day nests never staying too long anywhere (they have only ever had short stays in my hog house previously) but I think this chap is due a bill for board and lodgings. I know its the same hog as it has a distinctive blaze on its head and its spines and skirt are also quite recognisable. Does anyone know if this behaviour is normal? Is this a hog pre-deciding on a hibernation home and making sure he doesn’t lose it? Knowing my luck he will probably disappear and go off and hibernate elsewhere in the end to make my comments look silly.
As for the hog house survey I have done this although, ironically, not long before this hog took up residence. Maybe I need to do it again/provide an update.12th September 2017 at 7:35 pm #7704
That’s very frustrating re. the hog house survey – isn’t that always the way!
It can get a bit confusing with male and female hogs, especially as it sometimes seems as if they teleport. You look away for a second and there is a completely different hog there in the same position when you look back.
It’s really good the hog is still using your hog house. I wonder if he is planning on hibernating, especially as he was closing ‘the door’ after himself. Maybe he was going to hibernate and then the female turned up and distracted him? I understand the summer nests are less elaborate.
It is interesting that they no longer seem that interested in each other. The remaining male here is beginning to get less and less interested in the females and one of the females just runs off if she sees him coming. She must be quite an old hog now, and perhaps realises that it is too late in the year to be getting pregnant now.15th September 2017 at 12:48 pm #7721
Indeed it is frustrating.
Fyi I have 2 hog houses one is self built and one was a present last Christmas (a hogitat). The male hog is in is my home built effort which has brick walls with a timber log roof with a bubble wrap interlayer to keep it watertight overdressed with leafs, twigs and the occassional garden cuttings I put on there all to encourage insects e.g. more natural food for the hogs. As my previous post its situated in what I would call a wildlife part of the garden so is in a prime location whereas the hogitat less so although I’m trying to ‘wild’ its surroundings.
The hogitat however sadly remains unoccupied although I have seen a couple of hogs go in there but they don’t stay. I have been told that, as hogs are sensitive to smell, it might take while for them to like its scent before using it which sounds plausible. However it seems maybe the more natural approach of the home made hog house might be more appealing and location probably comes in to it as well but only the hogs could tell us this for sure – if only they could speak!
Anyway the male hog is still in residence and, although he does close the door behind him (he seems to have taken the sticks out now but where they have gone I have no idea as I can’t find them and, I’m guessing this is the hog but maybe not, he has been disturbing the log pile quite a bit whereby I have to do some remeidal work to reconstruct it) he is still currently opening it up every evening to come out to feed. I have read that male hogs hibernate earlier than females, especially if the females are still brooding a second litter, but I would have thought its still far too early for hibernating.
The evening pattern is now getting quite repetitive with the male hog emerging around 8ish and the female hog appearing around 10ish. The male hog can’t go far as he only seems to disappear from the garden for an hour or so at most before he returns but I guess they are now having shorter travels to conserve energy pre hibernation possibly? The male hog is generally still ignoring the female who still sits there and looks at him whilst snorting and puffing but she doesn’t back off now. Rather annoyingly the male hog is getting more of the lion share of the food as, whatever I try, the female will just sit there as above whilst chummy snuffles up all that is on offer even, almost comically, food right by her but she stil manages to get some food (she was on her own for a while last night so I threw out a handful of hog biscuits which were gratefully snuffled up…crunch, crunch, crunch!!
As the above is now a regular sight I’m now starting to worry if they don’t turn up or the pattern changes which will probably then result in sleepness nights like some demented hog father!19th September 2017 at 10:41 am #7775
Your own made hoghouse sounds a very des res for hogs – no wonder the hog is using it.
The male hogs do seem to hibernate earlier than the females and they return from hibernation earlier as well. As much as 2 months difference here. I think most of the males may have started hibernating already. They have nearly all disappeared from here and did the same last year.
I know what you mean about when they don’t follow their normal pattern of behaviour, etc. – Hogs are a joy and a worry. Soon most of them will be disappearing for hibernation and then there will be the long wait, hoping that they’ll all return next year.7th October 2017 at 10:43 am #7918
I last saw the female hog on 19th September but the male hog has been following a similar routine every night since albeit once the female stopped coming he disappeared on his travels for much longer typically 3-4 hours away from the garden.
The male hog has been waking up a bit earlier with the days getting shorter around 7.30/7.45pm which was getting a bit tricky as this is close to the time I get back from work so first job was put hog food out (I don’t like to leave it out all day in case it attracts unwanted visitors) and the hog was out minutes after – very fine timing!
This routine has continued the hog waking up 7.30/7.45pm, eating the food on offer, going off for 3-4 hours and arriving back around 11.30/midnight (yes I have actually been staying up late to watch the hog!).
This continued until 4th October – the hog woke up, had his food, then went off as normal but I didn’t see him come back but didn’t think too much of it at the time. However I have had no shows the last two nights and he is no longer resident in the hog house,
After almost 6 weeks living in the hog house, although not hibernating, its a bit worrying that he has now gone absent however hopefully he is ok and nothing untoward has happened to him.
I did come up with a theory that maybe he was just living in the hog house to benefit from the food on offer to fatten up for hibernation as being close by meant no other hogs could snuffle it up before him. However for hibernation it was always on the cards that he would move on when the time is right to what will be his actual hibernation spot.
Whatever the reasons this could well be the last time I see a hog this year which is quite a bit earlier than last year when the last sighting I recorded was 11th November.
Anyway roll on spring and hopefully the hogs will return.9th October 2017 at 9:32 am #7928
One of the hogs has been turning up really early here too – about 7.20 last night. The problem comes when the clocks change. Dangerous time for the hogs, because we humans start doing things at different times (in hog time), travelling home from work later, etc.
Your theory re. The hog house sounds quite logical. They apparently sometimes move nests during hibernation, so it seems quite likely that they would not use the same nest they used as a day/night nest. Also, not sure they would choose to hibernate near a food source which could attract predators.
Keep a look out, though, because new hoglets were turning up here until late November last year (some after all the adults had disappeared), and they are the ones who really need help with supplementary feeding, etc.20th October 2017 at 9:21 pm #8030
Sorry for the late reply,
I did have another, possibly, more likely theory in as much as the shortening days put me in the mix with the hog when I put the food out which may have made his mind up that it was time to ship out.
His quick appearance after putting out the food in the last few days I saw him led me to thinking that he may have been concealed in the undergrowth watching (or maybe smelling) the danger as we are, after all, viewed as predators and rightly so as I wouldn’t want hogs to lose their fear of humans – as you have said yourself not all humans are hog friendly sadly.
I haven’t seen any signs of hogs since the 4th October food untouched and no calling cards left if you know what I mean!
Anyway I have printed off a batch of posters asking people to check for hogs before lighting bonfires and I will be distributing them locally this weekend. Hopefully it will do some good as, although I have told the immediate neighbours of the hogs presence (and they all seemed genuinely excited that we had them), a bit further a field they may not even be aware of them.
If a couple of the posters avoid the recycle bin it will be worth it and if it means that it saves a hog from a tragic end then it will definitely be worth it although I doubt I will ever find out.26th October 2017 at 11:04 am #8061
I think your first theory worked better for me. The hogs here sometimes appear just after the food has been put out, too, but possibly more often if there has been a refill.
I still have the one mature female visiting. Am slightly worried that she is looking slightly sleeker, and hope she hasn’t had hoglets this late. The two ‘regular’, now large, hoglets are still visiting as well. (I always half hope that they will hibernate before the clocks change.) This time last year there were loads of small hoglets around into the beginning of December. This year I haven’t seen any new ones since this lot, who first appeared in July. A friend, sadly, found a small dead hoglet, recently (no obvious reason). I suppose the only consolation is that it shows the hogs there were breeding and just hope one of it’s litter mates survived.
Good move, getting some posters out, especially with bonfire night approaching. Last year Penny did a brilliant one. I’m sure I must have saved it somewhere, but can’t find it at the moment. I think posters are always worth it, even if, as you say, it only saves one hog who wouldn’t have been saved otherwise.4th November 2017 at 3:54 pm #8127
I prefer the first theory as well as, when I have inadvertently disturbed a hog, they usually freeze then run off to where they feel safe I guess but they nearly always come back minutes later.
As well as the local neighbourhood I have also given some posters to the allotments near where I live as I suspect that is where the hog stronghold is and where the hogs in my garden emanate from.
They kindly agreed to put them up and they have been true to their word. I also had a chat with their group about hogs in general and pleased to say one lady had hogs near her plot and told me she had seen 2 hoglets and she was feeding them wet cat food which they were happily eating and told her that was great but told her no mealworms!
We went for a walk round the allotments and there was so many great places for hogs and other wildlife (I understand that they had Kent Wildlife Trust in to give them advice so they are definitely doing their bit) with wood piles, untidy areas and no doubt plenty of natural food for the hogs to eat.
They asked me about slug pellets and told them best to avoid these as not only hogs, but other wildlife, could be poisoned either directly through ingesting them or indirectly by eating the poisoned slugs etc. They said that they now only use ferric phosphate slug pellets, which they told me were wildlife friendly, but unfortunately I didn’t know enough about these to comment. I have done some post meeting research and these do seem to be promoted as wildlife friendly but still think that its better to avoid chemicals if possible (would be good to hear if others have a view on these?).
Anyway bonfire weekend has arrived so lets hope our hog friends will have a safe night.6th November 2017 at 11:49 am #8136
Good work with the posters. I’m glad bonfire night is over and my remaining visiting female and a hoglet safely arrived here last night.
Those allotments sound brilliant. Really good that they took advice from the local wildlife trust, as well.
I agree with you about the slug pellets. Didn’t know much about them because I wouldn’t even consider using them, but have just looked up on the internet. I quickly found a report of a dead hedgehog – thought to be as a result of these slug pellets. I found the following link.
Which seems to be from America. It seems they are considered to be organic – as the substance can be found naturally (but that does not necessarily mean it is safe for animals and wildlife) – but obviously not in such quantity – and because of this, rigorous testing is thought unnecessary. There is, apparently, no distasteful substance to put animals/children off eating it. There are reports of dogs being killed and also possible danger to children.23rd November 2017 at 10:06 pm #8313
Good to hear your hogs turned up ok post bonfire night.
I haven’t seen any hogs since 4th October and I have been checking my hog houses regularly for any residents but both are empty.
I have decided I’m going to clean them both out and dispose of the bedding I provided and the bedding dragged in by the previous resident hog as it seems an opportune time to do so and probably needs freshening up as the hog was in there for almost 6 weeks straight before he moved on.
I will put back straw bedding as well as the plentiful leaves that are around in case they do come back during the winter to take up residence again.
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