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Keeping Track

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Keeping Track

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    As well as a couple of feeding stations and three hedgehog houses, around my garden are a number of other ‘hedgehog opportunities’.

    Keeping track of all the goings on is entertaining, though I like to keep disturbance to a minimum after dark, not just for the hedgehogs but for the foxes, cats, mice and shrews etc using the garden once the sun goes down.

    A trail-cam gets some fascinating footage, but can only monitor one location at a time.

    Straws are my next best friend.

    Placed across all possible entrances when I put out the feeding stations as dusk fall, they not only show where a hedgehog may have ventured, but indicate direction. ie if the straw is pushed out of the entrance to a house, I take it that a guest has been in residence and has ventured forth. When it has been pushed down the tunnel I know that something has gone in. But whether for a quick look, or for a stay I can’t really tell.

    (I sometimes wonder if my hedgehogs are inclined to play games with me, or being annoyed by constantly finding straws blocking their way, go round pushing them aside out of sheer bloody-mindedness

    Before going to bed and topping up the feeding dishes for the late visitors, I check the straws and re-position any that have been ‘triggered’.

    But come the morning I know that (say) a hog has been in a house, but not if it has stayed.

    I’m sort of toying with the idea of buying a thermal imaging camera which I’m assuming would pick up the body-heat of a sleeping hedgehog inside a house, or pile of wood or leaves (but possibly not if they are hibernating as I assume body temperature would be too low to detect, especially inside a thermal pile of leaves and straw.

    It would be interesting to see just where the hogs are hiding in the day, I expect I’d be surprised.

    I’m just wondering if anyone has any experience or recommendations of not too expensive thermal cameras, before adding to my Christmas wish list 🙂

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    Hi Leon

    I would be inclined to quiz your local photographic shop (if such a thing still exists) about thermal cameras. I don’t recall them being mentioned on the forum before, but you might be lucky. If you manage to get one, let us know how you get on.


    Hi Leon.

    I have recently installed a Bushnell trail cam as a replacement for a Pro stalk which got knocked over by a cat and went a bit haywire. The Bushnell is a great improvement, the quality of the videos is superb. I am able to identify particular hogs by the markings on groups of prickles, some pale or dark patches. Earlier in the year I tried to mark the hogs (as described in Pat Morris’s book). I marked 4 but they seemed to take offence as they stopped coming. I now have one unmarked living in my hog house for the last 3 weeks. 2 nights ago a second visited and on encountering the first, tried to head-but it out of the way, but gave up and went back the way it had come. One thing I have observed is the amount of scratching the hog does. I wonder if it has a flea problem, but don’t wish to clean out the house in case I disturb it. Also concerned about RTA’s. £ run over within 50 metres of my house. This may just be an indication that we have a healthy population! but wish there was something I could do.


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    Hi Paul

    Whilst I think Pat Morris’ book is excellent in many respects, I think the advice re. marking hedgehogs is somewhat out of date. It was written at a time when there were far fewer people watching hedgehogs. Nowadays, if everyone marked their visiting hogs, not only would they be likely to have multiple marks on them from different places, but huge numbers of hogs would be marked. In my opinion it is not appropriate to mark a hog unless it is for the benefit of that particular hog or for hogs as whole, i.e. if it is part of a properly thought out and organised scientific study for which a licence has been obtained. I do not think it is appropriate to mark hogs solely for our own benefit. Sensible hogs ‘voting with their feet’! You might be interested in the BHPS Guidelines regarding marking:

    “Can I ‘mark’ my hedgehogs?
    We’re pretty sure a hedgehog would rather not be marked, but if you are going to do it, please do ensure that you use a non-toxic water-based marker and mark just a few spines of the hedgehog. Keep the mark away from the hedgehog’s face and mark it in the garden on the ground rather than picking it up/bringing it indoors. Please don’t use red as people may mistake it for blood and ‘rescue’ it.  Do not make hedgehog conspicuous to predators.  We have seen some very sad images of poor hedgehogs practically covered in paint!  If you are watching the hedgehogs on a wildlife camera you will often be able to tell them apart over time without the need for marking.”

    It is possible to identify all the hogs visiting one garden by their natural markings. I have written some tips in various places on the forum and can point you in the right direction, if you’re interested.

    There is something you can do to try to reduce the incidence of roadkill. You can lobby your local council to put up signs in hotspots. But, perhaps the most important thing for hogs is for there to be more of a Hedgehog Highway linking people’s gardens. If they had access to more suitable habitat, there would be less need for them to cross roads so often. It is always very sad to find a poor hog killed on the road. Perhaps you could start some sort of campaign in your area, using the statistics you have to help put the message over.

    Good luck. Let us know if you have any success.


    My hogs have eaten early tonight 7pm I am pretty sure it’s them as we 5have 2 feeding station any ideas anyone?


    Ours are coming earlier too – any time between 7 and 8 and then it seems to go quiet until the very early hours.


    My hoggy that is sleeping in a hoggy house comes out at about 7.10. As it gets darker earlier I assume they will come out earlier.


    One of mine keeps popping out long before it gets dark.

    I was wondering if maybe something else was triggering my straw across the entrance.

    No, it is the minx!


    Goodness Leon – your hog looks to have a hog palace! they know when they’re on to a good thing!


    Thanks for the advice re marking. I was curious to know how many there were about but with my new Bushnell Trail cam it picks out natural markings on the spines anyway. I have a resident in my hog house and the cam picks up emergence and re-entry times. Activity is changing and hog is spending more time in the house, only coming out for short periods and not at all last night.


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    Hi Paul

    That’s really good that the cam picks up the hogs markings so well. Some of them really do seem to have remarkably clear pictures. It’s good that a hog is using your hog house. It may be that he/she is gradually beginning to go into hibernation. Not sure what they are all going to make of the warm weather we are supposed to be getting later on!

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