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Marked Hedgehogs

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Marked Hedgehogs

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    We have been fortunate enough to have hogs in our garden for at least 5 years. We see them on occasions (more so early morning as we are up at 4am so are in bed early!!) We bought a camera trap a while ago & have now got to grips with it & have put it out regularly for several weeks. From the footage I have identified 3 different ones, one large, one small & one small with a dark undercarriage. Imagine my horror when last week one appeared on camera with a big mark across its bottom, then 2 nights ago one appeared with two dots on its bottom. I’m not sure if they are “our” hogs or has the person who marked them “stressed” them to move on. I don’t have time at the moment to download the pics for a better look (family health issues) but I am just mortified that people can’t just appreciate they have them visiting without subjecting them to this. PLEASE folks if you have marked hogs in the past don’t do it again just appreciate you are fortunate to have these declining mammals in your company.

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    I do sympathise with you, Ann, about the hogs turning up with marks on them. A similar thing has happened here.

    I have been watching and looking out for the hogs here for many years and can identify most of them by their natural markings. Recently, old friends have begun to arrive with graffiti on them – very sad to see. One of them must have had at least half of his spines covered with some unknown substance. Others have had stuff on their faces and around their eyes (possibly as a result of biffing another marked hog). But also commonly on their skirts, which is worse than being on their spines, because it would be so easy for them to ingest whatever it is. Sometimes the hog is marked in such a way that their natural markings and colouring are hidden.

    But, my worry is that it may go further than that. Hedgehogs rely heavily on their sense of smell and I am concerned that the excessive marking which is happening could impact on their social interactions.

    This year, for the first time, when excessive marking has increased, I have seen much more ferocious fighting than has been usual. Previously I had identified a sort of pecking order and the less dominant male usually just got rolled up and perhaps biffed and pushed around a bit. It could be a coincidence that the ferocious fights have always included at least one excessively marked male, but perhaps not. Perhaps the hogs are not recognising each other, due to the quantities of foreign substance on at least one of them.

    Excessive marking could also impact the females. If a female doesn’t smell ‘right’ is the male going to persevere to mating? They may begin the courtship ‘dance’ but give up too soon. There have been several mature females about, and many ‘dances’ took place earlier in the year, but only 3, hoglets (probably all from the same litter) resulted.

    It would be difficult to prove either way, but with hedgehog numbers as they are, is it a risk anyone really wants to take?

    Personally, I see no need to mark hogs at all, unless it is for a properly organised scientific study for the benefit of hedgehogs. My feeling is that any interaction with a hedghog, should only take place if it is for the benefit of the hedgehog, or hedgehogs in general.

    I believe that hedgehogs deserve live their lives in peace in their wild, natural, beauty.


    I have observed the hogs that visit my garden have marks on them as well. I can only guess that some under informed person has done it to identify them.
    I also know them by their natural markings. I have had no visits from them for 4 weeks now. Hibernating early ? or has this years weather affected them ?.

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    Hi Expara

    The hogs could well have been hibernating. The males here disappeared in September and they did the same last year, so I wasn’t too worried about them. They tend to come back earlier than the females – some as much as 2 months. Hibernation is more complicated than being only related to the temperature. Some of the females disappeared earlier than usual here too. It is easy to fear the worst, but it is possible they hibernated early as well. I wonder if it could be something to do with when they had hoglets – maybe if they didn’t have hoglets to care for, they could hibernate earlier? Possibly wishful thinking, but now we have the long wait to see who comes back next year.


    I have a late feeding visitor who turned up a couple of weeks ago. I was initially worried about “discoloured” spines as a sign of disease, then realised it had probably been marked. I suppose it might have squeezed under a fence and rubbed off some paint, but is probably someone “keeping score”. If so this is really pointless and possibly harmful.

    It is not very helpful that the Pat Morris book, for example, describes, at length, marking systems: irresponsible. Well intentioned people maybe feel legitimised to do this to see how many hogs they have visiting.

    Can Hedgehog Street please pointedly discourage their readers from doing this?

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