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Marked released hogs?

Home Forums Champions’ chat Marked released hogs?

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    I just wondered if it was common practice for rescue centres etc to mark hogs so they can be identified? I’ve had one come in the garden recently that appears to have a big ‘x’ on it. It could be a natural marking but it looks so odd I wondered if there is a harmless dye that some use that shows up under infra red trail cams for tracing purposes? I will try to upload a photo to the gallery but best I can offer so far is a grainy screenshot from a video taken last night.


    no it’s not normal practice. Often people do mark the hogs in their garden though so perhaps it’s that


    Either a rescue centre has done it or another hedgehog enthusiast. It’s a way to identify different hedgehogs that visit but is it right to paint wild hedgehogs. Some would say it’s ok to use a water based paint others would say leave the creatures alone

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    Hi Bassman

    I suspect not a rescue centre. This is the information from BHPS about 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.

    Note in particular:
    We’re pretty sure a hedgehog would rather not be marked
    just a few spines

    It is possible to learn to recognise hedgehogs from their natural markings. My own view is that any interaction between humans and hedgehogs should only be if it is for the benefit of that hedgehog or hedgehogs as whole. Learning more about what happens to released hedgehogs may be justified. Putting large amounts of foreign substance on them is not nor is marking them for the human’s benefit. Sadly all too many people do mark hedgehogs artificially for their own benefit.


    Having got better quality footage now I’m coming to the opinion that the marks might be ‘natural’ in the sense they may have occurred naturally. Not surprisingly I’m currently referring to him as ‘Mr.X’. There’s a link to a short clip of video below if anyone wants to check it out.

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    That is definitely not natural marking. Someone has done that to the poor hedgehog. Totally unnecessary to use that much foreign substance on them – even if someone did think it was ok to mark them in the first place. Hedgehogs sense of smell is much better than ours. Even if a human didn’t think that substance smelt, it might do to a hedgehog and consequently interfere with its relationships with other hedgehogs.

    To my mind, the idea is to help hedgehogs for their own sake, not simply for humans’ sake. But marking in such a way is also selfish with regard to other humans. That hedgehog very probably visits gardens other than where it was marked, so that those people, who may have learnt to recognise that hedgehog by it’s natural markings, may now be very upset to see it covered in graffiti. If any other animal (and incidentally, hogs do not belong to the person doing the marking) was marked in such a way (such as someone’s cat or dog) most people would be outraged. What is the difference. In many ways marking a hedgehog like that is even worse.

    It is possible to learn to recognise hedgehogs by their natural markings and I wrote some tips a while back:

    I know it is not you who has marked the hog and what I have written is also for the benefit of other people who read this. If anyone thinks it’s a good idea to mark hedgehogs so they can recognise them more easily – FOR THE HEDGEHOG IT IS NOT!


    Sorry to butt in here, but how awful !! A huge X marked on the back of this poor creature – why ?
    This must have been done by someone who feeds and encourages hogs surely as they had to have a spray can and/or paint to hand in preparation !
    This upsets me tremendously and in my opinion amounts to cruelty. It must be done for purely selfish reasons and is so unacceptable.
    Not been on this forum for long, but doubt anyone here would ever do such a thing.
    How can we educate people of the privilege they experience when various wildlife visit a garden and how to support and encourage it.


    Just been looking through more footage from last night, there’s actually another long mark on his left side as well, it does look very odd. The IR light is a bit strong on this camera and tends to ‘spotlight’ a bit so it washes the images out slightly. I’ve not found a way of setting it lower yet, its a new cam and I’m still tinkering. The good news is that he seems to be behaving completely normally and has a very good appetite. It looks like hes actually bullied my (smaller) regular into coming early so they don’t overlap. I saw them very briefly together once but unfortunately didnt get a video.

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    I agree, dafffydil. Unless it is specifically for properly organised scientific research, for which a licence has been obtained (i.e. for the benefit of that hog or hogs in general) it should not happen. Even in that event that excessive use of substance is totally unnecessary.

    If someone loves hedgehogs – learn to recognise them by their natural markings. I have learnt a lot about hedgehogs over the years, by recognising them from their natural markings. I am fairly certain that some hogs are actually re-artificially-marked with a different pattern, when the old version wears off. So does the person doing it even realise that is the same hedgehog, I suspect not. But once recognised by their natural markings, that hog becomes known. Then it can be recognised even upon return from hibernation and so it’s life can be followed for a longer term – and with no interference into its life (other than offering it a bit of supplementary food and water).

    Bassman, there aren’t actually that many hogs around yet and the majority are probably males, so it’s easier for them to avoid each other at the moment – and males tend to become less tolerant of each other, when females are around.

    When the females return if a hog smells differently it could interfere with social interactions. i.e. I had a gentle giant of a hog who used to visit here (he always managed to keep himself out of trouble) and then someone decided to mark him – after that the pecking order amongst the males ceased, in part, to exist and some ferocious fights took place. It was as if the other hogs no longer recognised him.

    Similarly with a female if it was marked – it could smell differently and therefore become less appealing to the males. I suspect it would be difficult to prove this with 100% certainty either way – but, to me, it’s not worth the risk. Hogs are having a hard enough time without marking the poor things. So apart from the moral reasons for not marking hedgehogs, there is the risk that marking them could be interfering with them in a more damaging way – to the survival of the species as a whole.

    Then there is the potential problem of ingestion of whatever substance is used. There is no way of knowing how that might effect hog behaviour or health. Also substance getting into the eyes of other hogs, if for example the marked hog is biffed.

    Marking hedgehogs is WRONG in so many ways.


    I must admit I’m quite conflicted about the whole marking issue. On the one hand I don’t want to interfere with any wild animal just for my own benefit as you say Nic but on the other hand I would desperately like to be able to identify the different hogs to see which ones are visiting and how often.

    I have really tried to identify them as you have discussed before Nic (my drawing ability is about the level of a five year old so drawing their faces is not feasible🤣). In some cases if they have a tick or a mark somewhere it is possible but in the vast majority of cases (for me) the main ways I do it are simply based on size and whether someone else has marked it, so in that respect I actually benefit from someone else doing it. I don’t think of them as my hogs anyway so if someone else marks one it doesn’t offend me.

    I did consider trying to mount a UV security marker pen in the feeding station tunnel so it drags a mark on the hog as it passes without me actually having to interfere with it. Problem is if the hogs come late at night when I’m in bed I could end up with different hogs with the same marking then I’m back to square one 🤣


    I would love to be able to identify the different hedgehogs that visit my garden. I try to do it based on size or facial colour but it’s not easy. I don’t resort to painting them though and as for Mr X that paint job is way OTT.
    I have taken hedgehogs from rescue to rehabilitate in the wild and a small colour mark is useful to monitor that hedgehog as it adapt’s back to the wild. It also has the benefit that if that same hedgehog happens to get in trouble again the rescue can identify it and know its medication history.
    I personally don’t think a small mark is detrimental to the hedgehog but as always once you say something is ok someone will go OTT

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    I don’t think people would mind quite so much if the hogs were only marked in accordance with BHPS guidelines i.e. on only a few spines. But that isn’t what tends to happen – very sadly.


    Whether man made or not the marks seem to be fading or new spines are replacing the marked ones. This isn’t as good quality footage (taken with my other trail camera) but the marks arent as clear as they used to be. I made a feeding box to go alongside the igloo, its a bit small really but it keeps the food dry and cats out. I might look into getting something bigger from a garden centre at some stage but there isn’t much stock in the ones I’ve visited recently. The bigger storage boxes I’ve seen locally are all clear and I’d rather have something opaque.

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