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Hedgehog Chirping

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    I have a medium size hog visitng my garden which seems a bit skittish and dashes in and out of cover although it is eating and drinking quite happily.

    It also often makes a rather pleasant sounding chirping noise which I don’t recall hearing before (I have heard similar sounds but this is more like a chortling sound) and would be interested if others have heard this noise too and if they know what it means?

    A large male turned up and it dashed in to the flower pots to hide (it seemed) but then popped its head out and then came out but stayed near the flower pots. The male didn’t take any notice of it although I’m sure it must have smelt it as they were only 2 feet apart – no hog bashing or courting. Could this be a juvenile female hog not yet of breeding age?


    Hi Hogmeister,

    I haven’t heard the Chirping myself but have been told of it before – if fact – Hedgehog Bottom has a little library of hedgehog communications and what they mean:
    The Chirping they have captured put this down to contented hoglet noises coming from a nest.
    On the possibility of a juvenile female front – I have to say – the males will tend to try their luck with any age female at this time of they year, so perhaps he hadn’t noticed her (if she is a female).
    I have become aware of the fact that because hogs rely on their sense of smell so much – you can get much closer to them if standing down wind of them (and quietly to observe). I wonder if your experience above is similarly related in that the male hadn’t noticed because of the wind direction at the time?
    Lovely to have another visitor to your garden anyway – and skittishness being a good habit to have developed in terms of life survival I expect – or certainly avoidance of humans if at all possible.


    Hi Jan-Marie,

    Thank you for sending over the link to the hog sounds really interesting to hear all the different noises they make and what they mean.

    The chirping noise is different to the sound I’m hearing, although its similar but not as high pitch, and none of the other sounds relate to the sound I’m hearing either. The hog I’m seeing is an independent adult but hope its content whatever the noise is its making!

    As for the other hog yes it was breezy so maybe it was downwind as I know their eyesight isn’t great as the smaller hog certainly was aware of the larger hog as it was looking straiight at him and watching him.

    I had a male courting a female last night lots of huffing and circling by the male with the female doing that jumping/jolting and huffing thing in response which seems to mean she wasn’t interested and he gave up eventually although he persevered for a long time.

    Happy hogging.

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    Hi Hogmeister

    The jumping/jolting and huffing doesn’t mean she isn’t interested. It’s just what they do. It’s almost as if the male has to show he is worthy of her attention by persevering for long enough – can be hours. She probably won’t be very impressed if he gives up too easily! Hopefully he’ll come back and try another time. One chap here kept running off if a plane flew over – not the best way to impress the hog ladies!


    Hi Nic,

    Thank you for increasing my hog knowledge although on this basis I don’t think I would have impressed the lady hog as I watched them for around 25 minutes or so before I made ready for bed (it was past midnight by then I hasten to add) and when I came out of the bathroom the male hog had moved on whilst the female was now tucking in to its supper as provided by yours truly – I certainly didn’t persevere!

    I saw the courtship from the start although it didn’t start too well as the male bashed the female a couple of times, causing her to roll up in to a ball, before he realised his mistake and started sniffing her (hopefully first impresssions don’t count in the hog world!) and then circling her.

    She then unrolled and he continued to circle and sniff her whilst she jumped/jolted and huffed and so it continued in the same vane until my bedtime. As you say maybe better luck next time.

    Can I now please pick your brain Nic.

    My hog house has been in use on and off by a couple of different hogs in the past month or so. I put out a pile of leaves and a pile of straw as nesting material a week ago which have been left untouched until this morning.

    I put this out to hopefully encourage a female hog to choose it as a breeding house. The hog has dragged a lot of the straw and leaves in to the house which is now sticking almost out of the opening.

    I’m not getting any hopes up but do you think this is a sign that the occupant, which has just popped out for its evening scratch (it sits outside the hog house and has a good scratch as part of its waking up routine), meal and walkabout, is a female and that she may have prepared a nest/bedding to have hoglets in my hog house?

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    Hi Hogmeister

    Well that hog didn’t make a very good start then! Biffing females – not the done thing! But seriously, I have seen similar before and the female didn’t seem to take offence at all.

    Kind of you to think my brain is worth picking, but I can’t really answer your question with any certainty. The best I can say is maybe! I have read that the nest is a larger version of a hibernation nest – similar materials. If you think of possible alternatives, i.e. a young hog practice nest building, or the like, a female nest does sound more likely. But, again, I don’t know whether she ever makes more than one nest and then chooses which to use or has a back up in case something goes wrong with the other. I have read that during hibernation if one nest fails for some reason that they can actually build a new one during hibernation – which sounds extraordinary – but not sure they would want to be away from a nest that long with babies. Trying to think into the mind of a hog – impossible!

    Think you might have to wait and see. It would be lovely if hoglets appear. Fingers crossed.


    Hi Nic,

    Thanks for your insight and as you say I will have to wait and see and will keep my fingers crossed.

    Last night I was watching another courtship display when another male hog suddenly appeared from nowhere. The couple adopted that submissive pose they do and I was braced for hog mayhem,,,,,,,,,,,,but the male hog went straight up to the water dish (right by the courting couple) and had a long drink, hog couple still in submissive pose both with snouts down and heads turned and the (dominant) male then just walked off no bashing no nothing. The other male then quickly left the scene leaving the female on her own who then hoovered up all the food.

    I really can’t work out these hogs at times but I guess I’m not meant too!

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    Hi Hogmeister

    It is difficult to say without seeing what is happening myself, but …
    From my observations here a dominant male would not tolerate another male being so close, even if he wasn’t particularly interested in the female. So my guess would be (if the drinking hog was definitely male) that he was chancing his luck in the hope that the ‘courting’ (more dominant) hog was too busy with the female to notice him. It sounds as if he may have been right, but maybe the ‘courting’ male noticed him leaving and went after him, to potentially biff him, out of sight. The more dominant male is not always the biggest one. By then the ‘courting’ male may have been well distracted and so didn’t bother to go back to the female, who he may not have found interesting enough anyway – possibly a youngish female.

    Of course, all of this is surmise, but an alternative interpretation. You may just have a very tolerant dominant male there! Also if the drinking hog was a female that would be a whole different scenario! Other females will often eat/drink close to a courting couple, but he may have just noticed her when she left and so went in pursuit.

    I think you will learn to work them out better if you keep on watching (preferably in real time), but they will probably always have an element of mystery, not least because we can’t see enough of them (with them disappearing into the undergrowth, etc.). But, perhaps that is part of their charm.

    You really need to see certain types of behaviour over and over again with different hogs to be able to reach any sort of conclusion about what they mean. Preferably knowing who the hogs are (from their natural markings) and definitely whether they are male or female. The small clips from videos are simply not enough to get a good ‘picture’ of what is going on and can too easily lead to wrong assumptions. Also with hogs there can always be a curved ball thrown in, so that it isn’t always possible to be certain about a particular piece of behaviour. If you are really interested in hog behaviour, it takes time and patience, but can be very rewarding. Once you have learned certain behaviours you can then look at, for instance, a video, and recognise those behaviours with a degree of certainty, if not always absolute certainty!


    Hi Nic,

    Well the couple who had their courting interupted by the arrival of the other hog were definitely male and female.

    The reason why I think the intruding hog was male was because the couple both adopted that posture where they expect a bashing although this never came of course.

    That said on one of my previous posts I saw a male bash a female before it realised its mistake.

    Just a theory now but maybe hogs, knowing their eyesight isn’t great but have acute hearing and smell, sense/smell another hog coming straight in their direction and work on the basis its a (dominant?) male coming to give them a bashing so adopt a defensive position. After all the male hog that bashed the female hog took a little while to realise his mistake before he started courting her which suggests they aren’t always sure what gender their opposing hog is until they have a good close up sniff?

    As such the drinking hog may have been a female as you say but its actions might have been perceived as that of a male and the other two hogs weren’t taking any chances? When it just had a drink and moved on the male walked off but the female stayed untroubled and that was the only hog I could see.

    Of course only the hogs really know why and what they were thinking but i do try and work out what I see as best I can even if the result might raise a smile with those that know about hogs (birds are more my strong point really).

    Interestingly the skittish hog, which I started this post about, is still turning up and just gets ignored by whatever hog turns up be it male or female which I still can’t figure out.

    I had four hogs in the garden last Saturday night, the first time I have seen more than three at once, with the dominant male bashing two in to a ball whilst the skittish hog just kept milling around whilst hog gladiator wars were ongoing unpeturbed.

    I have therefore decided it has employed some sort of cloaking device, as used by Klingons to hide their bird of prey vessels (if you are in to Star Trek you will know what I mean otherwise try a quick google), where it can move amongst other hogs unoticed and unhindered – clever intergalatic hog!!!



    Around here we’ve known about the cloaking device for some time as hogs can move from one side of a garden to the other without being seen. They can also materialise inside a feeding station without having been seen going in. They have also developed a warp drive since they have been known to do a complete lap of my house at 1.2 times the speed of light.

    During the Beast from the East one morning all the hog food had gone without leaving any footprints in the snow so either they have perfected tunneling or have developed a transporter beam.

    I hope this helps.


    Glad to hear about the use of invisiblity cloaks! Huge amount of food taken last night but very little evidence on the camera!


    Are there no ends to these hogs seemingly magical talents – invisibility, levitation, teleportation!!

    They must have all graduated from Hogwarts (they were probably in Hufflepuff House) – eat your heart out Harry Potter!

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    Hi Hogmeister

    I think you may be right about hogs not always knowing another one is approaching – especially if the wind is in the wrong direction. Not sure whether you may be over-interpreting the ‘defensive’ position, though – they may have just stopped in their tracks to listen/smell. I think they sometimes hope they are invisible, even when aren’t. One little chap here has been seen to approach from one side get rolled up and then sneak off and make a big circuit to try to approach from the other side – could be to do with the wind direction – don’t know. But if the boss hog is around, he usually notices and the poor chap gets rolled up again.

    Some of the hogs certainly seem to be very clever at avoiding being caught on camera. Some special infra red invisibility cloak maybe.

    It’s nice to hear you had 4 hogs at once, even if half of them were rolled up!


    Had 4 hogs in the garden again last night so second time now although the norm is still 1, 2 or sometimes 3 at a time.

    They were all males hopefully the females are nursing young somewhere. The dominant hog was bashing away as normal – it had one of the other hogs rolled up but had a good ‘push of war’ with one of the other hogs who wasnt going to concede whilst the fourth hog, quite amusingly to me, was hoovering up the food in the background whilst the hog wars took place – clever hog!

    However there actually seemed to be a bit more tolerance as there were times when all 4 hogs were just happliy eating in close proximity to each other (maybe with so many at once they need to focus a bit more on eating as its hard for the dominant male to keep them all rolled up) before the dominant hog decided it was time to show them who was boss again!

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    Maybe not quite so much motivation to keep them rolled up, either, with no females around! Love the sound of the one eating whilst the others were all busy fighting. Sounds typical hog – there always seems to be one, more interested in food than anything else!

    Fingers crossed for some hoglets soon.

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