15th August 2017 at 12:43 pm #7252
It was first noticed back in September 2016 that we had a possible hedgehog. Large dollop of pooh! My partner ordered a wildlife camera for my birthday ready for the big day in the Spring. After winter a plastic feeding station was built to attract them. Two small bowls containing water and Spike’s crunchy dinner biscuits were put inside. Because the pooh was found out on the patio the feeding station was placed there. Initially only the bowls were put there and tried in a variety of locations. Once it was found by the hedgies the plastic feeding station was put over the bowls. The initial feeding station had a high entrance, which the magpies took advantage of. After several goes we constructed an entrance which was useable by the hedgies and kept out all other predators except rats or mice. Because it seemed very cumbersome it was decided to move the feeding station to the rear. During this time the plastic feeding station was replaced with a wooden structure more hedgie friendly built to specifications found on the net. This structure appeared to be shunned by the hedgies but used by the rats. Lots of videos of hedgies eating outside the structure sharing food with rats, foxes and cats. All of whom have never made any attempt to attack the hedgies. The successful transition from the front of the house to the rear has been achieved. Only once did we ever see three hedgies at the front. However in the rear garden it is now a regular sight. No animosity has
been seen amongst the hedgies, only the odd nudge now and then. What we are unable to fathom out is actually how many we do have. Recognition is difficult because it is hard to judge their size. Some of them have what appear to be different light and dark patches on them, but they are not
always easily recognizable. One of them we named “Dirty Harry” because he appeared to have mud on him in various places. After all the rain we had recently that appears to have gone. We have a couple of smaller ones, that come up to the camera, in its wooden hide, and try to board it Maybe over time we will come to recognise their individualism or habits. For now we just enjoy watching the videos, on computer, of what went on each night, first thing each morning.16th August 2017 at 3:51 pm #7263
Good to hear about the hogs there – although not sure I would be quite so happy about the rats! I normally feed the hogs here outside. I think they probably prefer it – lots of escape routes – most boxes only have one. Just be aware, though, that although it might be unusual, foxes have been known to kill hogs, so it is possible they are safer inside a fox proof box whilst they are feeding? Having said that, they have their own minds, so won’t necessarily do what we decide is best!
If you are interested in identifying hogs naturally. I wrote some tips for someone else recently which you might also find helpful. https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/forums/topic/tolerant-hedgies/
I know what you mean about some of them getting muddy. I have one particular visitor who seems to be very good at looking thoroughly scruffy. She is a very pretty hedgehog otherwise! But, in the long term, it isn’t a reliable means of identification. Neither are mannerisms. I have one visitor who digs through her food and circles round the bowl, and for a long time she was the only one who did that. Now I am beginning to notice one or two of the other girls beginning to do something similar. I suspect they might be her daughters, so might have picked up the habit from her. They do quite often share a bowl. I find that the girls and especially the youngsters are very happy to share bowls quite harmoniously. The bigger boys are less tolerant – of other boys.
So pleased you are enjoying seeing the hogs. As you say, even if you don’t recognise individuals, it is just a delight to see hedgehogs. Happy watching.17th August 2017 at 9:49 am #7278
Having always wanted a hedgehog and after living here for nearly six years I have now acquired 4! Mum and 3 little ‘uns. I spotted mum a few weeks ago and realised that she was living under my shed. I have no idea how she got there but she seems to be happy and has blessed me with her 3 babies. I have no idea how you determine the gender from a distance! I am now feeding my hogs every evening with hedgehog food and dog food and find myself sitting out for hours just watching them.
Can you tell me if they will stay as a family or should I expect to see them disappearing?18th August 2017 at 6:45 am #7315
Congrats on your hoggies YB! They don’t play Happy Families at all I’m afraid. They will only hang around with Mum for a very short while (couple of weeks?) and then strike out on their own. If you have other suitable nesting places then you might be lucky and one of the kids may stick around but essentially they like to be alone most of the time.
If you continue providing food and water then they’ll remember where it is and may well keep coming back for more but they don’t really do loyalty. Some of mine have been visiting for years but have never lived in my garden so I’m just a useful service station on their nightly rambles.18th August 2017 at 11:14 am #7322
Thank you for all your replies. Thanks for your advice Nic I will check that website for tips. Living out here in the Gloucester countryside there is nothing I can do to deter the rats, foxes and feral cats. The fact that
the hedgies accept that they are there and carry on regardless is amazing.
The amount of air time I have on video is fantastic. So far this month I have
308 videos, 10 seconds long, and I delete the ones that are to the edge of the video or of poor quality. The hedgies tend to be out feeding from about 9ish to as late as 0500 in the morning. Infact last night I was late putting the food out, and was greeted by grunts of disapproval from a waiting hedgie. Pretty certain it was a female hedgehog who we have named “Surrey” because of her white fringe on her forehead. Last nights videoing brought another 32 clips of their activities. Over the last few months we have found that since April each month has produced a higher increase in their activities. July we had a total of 258 good video clips. We are undecided about some of their habits. Some settle down to eat and are quite happy to share a bowl and space together. However we see some dance infront of others, “a hog jive”, as though they are pleased to see each other. The males meeting up tend to push and shove one another with the victor getting the spoils. However even the defeated manly hog still stays in the area and waits patiently to eat later. Despite this we enjoy their antics every morning viewing. Pairs and the odd threesomes seem to be more common over the last month or so. Surely this is to late to mate with Winter around the corner, and the fact that food will be in short supply. Or are they crafty, and realise that people like us, are out there feeding them through the rougher times?18th August 2017 at 6:17 pm #7340
It is sometimes difficult to know what to do with all the video, isn’t it. I just lost about 30Gb of video and overnight photos – a flash drive went wrong and kept saying it needed formatting. After trying various things, I gave up and formatted it. I don’t suppose it will be long before I have more than enough to cope with again anyway! It almost felt slightly liberating.
What you call the ‘hog jive’ sounds suspiciously like the female at the beginning of the circling courtship ‘dance’, but the male doesn’t always start the circling – especially at this time of year. She normally jiggles around a bit, and tends to back away from the male slightly (possibly inviting him to start circling(?)) There are sometimes hoglets born quite late, so there could still be mating now. There are hogs here who are still doing the courtship circling, but whether it comes to anything is another matter. I sometimes wonder if we may inadvertently be encouraging late hoglets, not only by the feeding, but also by the rescuing of late hoglets, which may then produce late hoglets themselves (because they mature later) perpetuating the cycle.19th August 2017 at 10:17 am #7343
What you say about the ‘hog jive’ is probably true. It is certainly a smaller
hedgie doing it in front of a larger one, who we assume must be a male. Last
night we actually saw what happens when two males meet. One barges the
other, as the aggressor, whilst the other immediately rolls into a ball. The
aggressor then pushes the one rolled up away from the eating area. The
procedure seemed quite comical. We have not seen any hoglets at all. Maybe
being new at this, they all seemed to be all the same size at one stage. Now they have all grown up and we think we haven’t seen any? What you say about formatting is true. I find that after a while the wildlife camera tends to function erratically, e.g. the five seconds flash doesn’t come on or only flashes once. Because I put everything through my computer it doesn’t necessarily wipe it off the chip. Even though I make sure I delete everything from the chip after I have filed the videos away elsewhere. I actually format the chip through the wildlife camera in the setup part when the five second light malfunctions. Hope that helps. I know it sounds long winded.19th August 2017 at 12:20 pm #7344
Not all female hogs are smaller than male ones, so it is not a very reliable way to tell them apart. I usually find behaviours are an easier way, but don’t normally rely on only seeing it once with a particular hog, but over a period of time, it becomes pretty obvious who is male and who female.
You will find that there are various ‘grades’ of aggression. Some will just roll up straight away, some will sort of lie on their sides and resist being pushed along with their feet and then sometimes give in and roll up anyway and some will actually fight back. It is not always the biggest hog who ‘wins’. The ‘fighting back’ seems less common here – they mostly seem to know their place in the hierarchy. Worryingly, the full on fights I have seen have involved at least one excessively artificially marked hog. As hedgehogs rely so much on their sense of smell it is possible that putting any artificial substance on them could be affecting their behaviour.
Re. the hoglets. The ones I have had here, appeared a month earlier than any last year. I saw the first one on 7th July and by that time they were independent. They are still noticeably small enough to be easily identifiable as hoglets. I haven’t seen any more new ones recently, but it is still early.
I usually transfer any reasonable hog videos onto a flash drive each day – it gets a bit out of hand if I leave it too long! So, the camera memory card gets emptied most days. I probably should format that more often then maybe, as you say, it would work better. I am now being a bit more careful about making a back up!22nd August 2017 at 9:17 am #7404
Saw a single hedgehog in our suburban garden on 6th Aug so started putting food down. It has disappeared by the morning. Last night went out to check the bowl at 9.30pm and found 4 hedgehogs feeding there. One bigger than the other 3, but not by much. Say they were 3/4 fully grown. I assumed these would be one family. Is that not necessarily the case, since Williamc above says they don’t stay together for long.23rd August 2017 at 2:10 pm #7433
It is good to hear about the 4 hedgehogs. It seems that suburban gardens are becoming more of a stronghold for them these days.
As WilliamC said, the hoglets do become independent when they are comparatively small. They will, though, sometimes congregate at feeding places and a lot of them seem to like sharing, but may not necessarily be from the same litter. The adults are often very tolerant of hoglets and one particular hoglet may share a feeding bowl with several different adults at different times, so it is not easy to tell which belongs to which hog. Is the bigger one definitely a mature adult? Because, the other possibility is that all 4 are youngsters, with one of them being an early hoglet and the others more recent.
Whatever their relationships, It is lovely that you have 4 hogs visiting. I hope you continue to enjoy watching them.
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