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Hedgehogs galore!

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Hedgehogs galore!

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    We started feeding a female visiting hedgehog a couple of months ago and we were delighted when she started bringing her two hoglets along with her. Then what we think is a male hedgehog (possibly father of babies) turned up and now also visits every night pestering the female, who is obviously not interested! (we have never seen him feed). Over the last couple of nights we have had another adult visiting so we have gone from one to five, which is lovely, but as newbies we are confused. Is there any way to determine the sexes without disturbing them?. The one we think is the male is much bigger and seems a little lighter in colour?. We are busy building a hibernation box and are now thinking will one be enough? We first saw the mother come out of next doors garden and are pretty certain that none of them at present live in ours, they only visit.

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    Hi liz07

    Really pleased to hear the hog numbers there have increased. You can’t tell male from female by their size, or their colour. Some females are larger than some males. But, in time, you can tell from their behaviour. Especially if they get involved in some courtship, although I would normally wait until I had seen the behaviour a few times before being certain.

    The female is the one who starts huffing, moves backwards and then starts going in a circle so that the male who is circling around her can’t get to the rear end. She is usually moving a bit jerkily in time with the huffing. Because she is going in a circle it looks a bit as if she is doing a jig and she is moving her legs up and down quickly. It can be confused with her being very cross! He will tend to make himself a slightly different shape, taller and thinner and often put his head slightly on one side and down and lean in towards her, whilst still circling. It might appear as if he is being submissive when bending and lowering his head. But also, I always think he might be trying to make himself look bigger (from the side). It isn’t that easy to describe, but once you have seen it very many times, it will become obvious. Although they are going vaguely in a circle, the whole procedure can move along gradually.

    The female might look as if she isn’t interested, because she is backing away, but if she is backing and huffing, she may be. The courtship ‘dance’ can go on for hours. It seems he has to persevere to show he is a worthy Father for her hoglets. Sometimes after all that, one or other of them just walks off, so by no means every courtship will lead to hoglets.

    The one you think is a male, may or may not be the hoglets’ Father. The males don’t have anything to do with the upbringing and if they meet it is only by chance. The females can indulge in courtships with more than one male during a night and one litter of hoglets can have more than one Father.

    In my experience, all adults are very tolerant of hoglets until they reach a certain size and will allow the hoglet to take over a bowl they have been eating from, or share a bowl. This seems to apply to all adults, whether they are the parent or not. This makes it virtually impossible to work out who are actually the parents if you don’t see the hoglets until they have become independant. A hoglet will even sometimes follow a female who is not it’s Mother.

    Hope this gives you a bit of an idea.


    Thanks Nic , that’s so interesting, I appreciate your help and have a better understanding of what’s going on now!. Will continue to observe them and try to figure out who’s who, what fun!. ps what do you think about hibernation boxes, more than one?

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    Hi liz07

    I’m probably not the best person to answer that part of your question as I’ve never had a hog hibernate in any of my boxes. They’ve only been used for short stays. But it’s probably down to how many suitable places you’ve got to put them and cost. I don’t think it can do any harm to have more than one, just bear in mind that the hogs may chose not to use either of them! They are just as likely to hibernate under a shed or as they did before we started providing boxes. Or make a nest in a feeding box. But sometimes they only start using a box after it has been there for a year or two.

    Re. male/female. The other way you can tell is if you have a night cam and the hog conveniently scratches in front of it you can see a ‘blob’ on the males, vaguely mid abdomen. Or sometimes you can see underneath the hog as it moves. That method can be misleading though, so it’s probably a good idea to use behaviour to back it up.

    Good luck and happy hog watching!


    Hi Nic,
    Thanks very much for all your help, will let you know how we get on.

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