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Marking Hedgehogs?

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Marking Hedgehogs?

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 31 total)
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    Love the drawing suggestion Nic, I’m no Picasso but drawing it like an onion is very helpful and doable for most people. Alot of very useful suggestions on identifying the hoggies, thank you.

    I’ve setup a separate folder and put in any photos from last year with standout features on to see if I can short list some and hopefully spot them again this year.

    Mine have been back the last 2 nights unfortunately identifying them at this stage is difficult but a hogs a hog just pleased to see any. Problem 1 is the time – I know they are nocturnal but seriously 11.45pm for a first visit is too late for me past my bedtime and problem 2 the little minx’s are going under the security light but not long enough for me to look at them properly.

    I am so relieved to have them back though.

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    Hi Wildlifehaven

    So pleased to hear the hogs have returned there.

    Once we have got well into the hedgehog season, (i.e. when there are not likely to be any more really hungry hogs just returned from hibernation) I tend to only leave food out whilst I am up to watch. Partly to make sure rats and cats don’t get it, but also because I like to think they are doing some foraging as wild hedgehogs should. The hogs seem to realise this and turn up earlier – which is handy for watching. At the moment, I am still leaving a little bit out for late comers, but from the cam, I see that it doesn’t last long. I see from the cams that they still come into the garden, but maybe not always right up to the viewing/feeding area – although there is always water there as well, which they like.

    I cannot identify most of them on the cams – the pictures on mine are not that good and hogs often too far away, but I don’t mind at all. It is just interesting watching them and their behaviour.


    Thanks for the welcome Nic. Great points, and I think I’ll make sketch notes. I do baulk at chemicalising them (I’d much rather just respectfully appreciate, nurture and enhance their welfare), but am keen to add to the bigger recording picture to gain better assessment of numbers, types and behaviours. I’m actually trying to type with frozen fingers, having been outside making mini-vids of the hogs. Yes, there are at least two. Very noticeable this evening was a hog with a more elongated body and very short spines (feel a bit concerned as I don’t know if that’s normal, bit of an all-over crew cut). It’s also not as pretty as usual hog and doesn’t follow the same route out of the cafe, and seemed a little human-shy. I thought it came back for seconds as I heard more rustling so put a few more biscuits down, but I’m sure this hog had longer spines and quite distinct ‘eyebrows’. I waited for it to come out but it came to the entrance, sniffed around a bit then reversed and, I assume, is having water and a siesta. Lol it got too cold for me so I came in. Now I can’t download the video clips .. aarrrgh.

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    Hi Wild Thing

    I wouldn’t worry about the being human shy bit. We are predators after all and they should be wary of us. If they get too habituated to one predator, they may well not take so much notice of others as well, which would not be good. But, it does sound slightly worrying that the spines are short. Were you able to get a good enough view to see whether they looked normal spines, i.e. going to points? I tend to look at the hogs here through binoculars, so can get a really close up view without upsetting them. The elongated bit might just be them, what I call ‘slinking’ – there are several youngsters here who do that – they move long and low to the ground. Not sure if that is the kind of thing you mean. They tend to grow out of it when they get bigger. Also, the bigger boys do tend to make themselves look longer and taller (but also thinner) (they look bigger from the side) during courtship ‘dances’. Presumably trying to impress the ladies!

    If you really want to get into the bigger recording picture, assessment of numbers, etc., you need to get involved in some sort of organised trials/research. I naively thought, a while back, that the records I kept might be of use in a wider context, only to discover that they really weren’t. For them to be of any use on wider scale, they need to follow a specific pattern, be very rigorous, etc. I still keep them for my own benefit and so that I can pass on my observations to other interested people, but I do not feel I need to mark them to achieve this.

    So annoying when you have a load of video clips and can’t get at them! possibly worse than realising you forgot to turn the camera on!


    Cheers Nic, yes understand about the shyness but such a contrast to the pretty one that seems to think I’m ok, toddling past me and the cats to the little pond area for dessert. I’ll keep a lookout for the hog with the iffy spines and try to photograph, and as I recall it didn’t have a visible skirt either so looked more like an armadillo/scrubbing brush combo. I didn’t notice tapered tips like the one I’m holding in photo from last week. I’m guessing that these hogs are coming at different times to see who gets to the little bowl of food first. I don’t put that much down, I see it as sustenance should they get into menu difficulties (although I add more late autumn before hibernation). I’ll update when I can on ‘Bertie Bristles’. Maybe better to post that in ‘hedgehog sightings’?

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    Hi Wild Thing

    Poor Bertie does sound a bit odd. Sometimes their skirts are the same colour as the spines, but there is usually a difference in texture.

    I agree about letting them find their own natural food – I only tend to leave the food out whilst I can watch i.e. for a couple of hours – partly so they have time to find their own food and also because it is easy to keep cats away (or, as at the moment the rat – not a frequent occurrence but annoying when it happens and the cats never seem to turn up when the rat is here!). I leave it out a bit longer when they first come back from hibernation, in case they turn up here really hungry.

    Some hogs do seem to turn up at regular times, for long periods – you can almost set your watch by them – but then they will suddenly turn up later just to keep us guessing!


    I’ve been meaning to register here for a while but this thread prompted me after googling ‘spray painting hedgehogs’.

    I can’t decide if I’m more angry or upset about this, but its bothering me so much I can’t stop thinking about it.

    I have 4 or 5 hogs visiting my garden regularly, and over the past few months they have been showing up with white marks on them, which fade over time before being replaced with new ones. It started with just the one, who I named Stripe, thinking it was a brand new visitor (now I think not), but its getting more frequent. Now Hairy Monster has a stripe on his bum, Hugo has a horseshoe-shape and last night little Button appeared with a big spot on her side.

    I’m fuming. Who the hell has the right to graffiti a wild animal? Would they spray paint a fox or badger? I think not. Just because hedgehogs are small and benign creatures they think they have the right?

    I know I dont own these animals (though I do call them ‘my’ hogs) but I’m passionate about wildlife, and hedgehogs are a bit of a favourite. I love my little visitors, its such an honour to have them and I care for them as best I can, always keeping a respectful distance (I mainly just watch footage of them from my trail cam the next day). They make me happy when not much else does, and its really upsetting me that someone can do this for their own personal gain. I see no legitimate reason for it.

    Hedgehogs should be a properly protected species, then this sort of thing would be illegal.

    Sorry if this sounds a bit dramatic and over the top, but its how I feel.

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    Hi WildCaz

    First of all, welcome to the Forum.

    I don’t think what you say sounds over the top at all. I do feel for you. It can be very upsetting seeing your ‘old friends’ arriving with bizarre marks on them. As you will realise from reading other items on the forum I am not in favour of marking hedgehogs unless it is part of a properly organised scientific study for the benefit of hedgehogs, which I believe would normally require a licence. It is particularly sad, when it is possible to identify hedgehogs from their natural markings, given a small amount of effort. I agree that it would be good if hedgehogs had better protection.


    Thanks for the welcome 🙂

    I just don’t understand the mentality of painting a living creature. They are beautiful little things and daubing paint on them just spoils that. Its unnatural and I do wonder if it compromises their camouflage?

    I personally enjoy trying to work out who’s who. Half the time I probably get it wrong, but does it matter? Of course not. Now I know I’m right because they have blobs on.

    Some of the latest vids on my youtube channel clearly show the marks on a couple of them –

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    Hi WildCaz

    I agree with you – it does seem a strange thing to do to an animal. When I mention to people outside the ‘hedgehog community’ that some people mark hedgehogs, they think it very strange indeed. Sadly we are getting to the stage where you are far more likely to see a marked hedgehog than an unmarked one. The people who are doing the marking seem to, often, consider themselves to be hedgehog lovers.

    Not only could certain of the markings compromise hedgehogs’ camouflage, but it could potentially impact on their social interactions. I have noticed this year, when the marking seems to have increased in this area, that some of the males have been more aggressive than in previous years. This could be a coincidence, but equally, maybe not. Personally, I am also concerned that it could impact on their breeding abilities. Hedgehogs rely heavily on their sense of smell and a ‘marked’ female, may possibly not smell ‘right’ to the males and therefore be less interesting. Breeding is a bit precarious at the best of times, the hogs could really do without any more obstacles in their paths. I have noticed recently that the males are tending to give up on their circling more quickly than usual. Is it just a coincidence that it is when more of the females have been marked? It would be difficult to prove this either way, but given the state of the hedgehog population, erring on the side of caution would seem to make sense.

    To me, part of the enjoyment of watching the hedgehogs is to try to identify them by their own natural markings. The problem is, the artificial marking is actually making this more difficult. Sometimes changing the general colour of their spines and also disguising their faces and even the fur on their skirts.

    My heart falls when I see yet another poor hedgehog remarked. It must be stressful for them to be repeatedly caught and forcibly restrained whilst people are putting these marks on. Let alone what it may be doing to their metabolism if they ingest any of the substance or it permeates through their skin.

    On a lighter note – very good videos. Is this an urban garden? – With the fox.


    Interesting discussion.

    I have to admit I have always marked hedgehogs that visit my garden. I have never seen anything like people are describing such as spray painting, painting etc or used it myself. I always use nail varnish. I understand what people are saying regarding chemicals etc, but considering that a) it dries very quickly and b) some of the things hedgehogs are likely to walk through/fall into etc, I don’t think this is as big a problem. An example the other night, was Pinky who decided to start eating some sheep wool slug repellent, hedgehog friendly, which is the most atrocious smelling thing ever, and he began to self-anoint his sides with it! If anything was going to put off two hedgehogs mating, that would be it. I’ve witnessed lots of hedgehogs in the past snuffling at each other, neither being put off by a bit of varnish. Also the babies, so I know there are breeding hedgehogs in my garden/area.

    The idea of catching a hedgehog to do this is amazing to me simply because it has never happened. They are eating the food I leave them, I pop out, mark them and then leave. Never had a hedgehog that hasn’t returned. I often go out and check all is well with the garden in the evening, with the frogs etc as we have cats in the area, and often I might come across a hedgehog that scuttles off as I have disturbed it, but they return and don’t seem to care about me at all. I think if hedgehogs were traumatised by their encounters with humans to the point they wouldn’t return to a place which is very, very nice for them and with good food, I’d know by now.

    I also have to say that without marking hedgehogs either at the back or on their head, I would have had no idea at all that the numbers in my garden have dropped from 13 visitors in the space of a few days to now just one hedgehog I see all the time. I would also not have known for example, that Bluey, who obviously has got bigger since I first saw him, has survived for three years. Or that I have not seen him since March. Or that Turquoise who was new a few months ago, and would be waiting on the patio for his food for me every night was the hedgehog I found in the middle of the day, dead in my garden.

    Without the knowledge of the numbers decreasing in my area, I doubt very much my already hedgehog friendly garden would be even more so, this information, whilst not for a national scheme, but for myself, encouraged me to do much more, including making sure I am always on the lookout for those in need, and doing so I have saved the lives of numerous daytime babies, who I luckily was able to pass on to skilled and caring people who then returned them to my garden when they were old enough. Several times I have mentioned marking hedgehogs in the presence of wildlife specialists and no one has ever said anything about “don’t do it”.

    I think for those of us who are not doing it for “fun” or because the hedgehogs look “cool”, some of the opinions here are a little harsh. I try my best for these creatures, spend money each week on their food as well as the birds. I have just spent an hour waterproofing two new hedgehog houses, and am now about to go and gather material to make them more natural.

    As a first time poster, I was tempted not to reply, but I felt that it should be known that not everyone can tell the difference between animals, and as long as no harm is caused, I personally don’t believe what I am doing is causing any problems whatsoever, I will continue to do so. It is my way of checking up on hedgehogs in my garden, making sure they are healthy, and hopefully seeing an increase in numbers.

    I don’t see why this should make me less of a friend to hedgehogs than those who can tell exactly who is coming to their garden by sight.


    I was hoping to edit my previous post, but I am not sure how.

    I would also like to say, that although originally in one year, 13 different hedgehogs that I know of, came through my garden, and now there is just one regular that I see, there have been 4 new hedgehogs this year in my garden as well as two from three and two years ago. While I have read elsewhere on the forum that my little surveying will not do much for hedgehogs on a national scale (which isn’t very encouraging really) it makes me feel better to know that although the numbers are not as high as they used to be, they are far better than around 3-4 years ago, when during an entire season I only saw one hedgehog.

    When I visit my RSPCA wildlife rehabilitation centre next week, I will definitely raise this question regarding this issue with hopefully someone who specialises in hedgehogs and see what they think.

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    Hi mousieteddy11

    If you have read the previous things I have written about this matter, you will have seen that I have said that the main problem is the excessive marking of hedgehogs – where some hedgehogs’ spines are covered with large areas of substance with sometimes half or more of their spines being covered. Also the large blobs, zigzags and criss crosses, etc. In my previous post I did say ‘certain of the markings’ and it was, in particular, the excessive marking to which my comments there referred.

    You might like to see on On 23rd March.

    If you have not seen similar sorts of marking before, you may well find it shocking – and those are only a few. I don’t think people can be blamed for feeling upset if the hedgehogs they have known, in some cases for many years, turn up with excessive marking. You may well be upset yourself if it was the hedgehogs you knew. (Although you may not know that you knew them – your own marks could have been covered up).

    I, personally, prefer not to see hedgehogs marked at all and see no need for it (except for properly organised scientific studies and for the benefit of the hedgehog or hedgehogs as a whole). All the sorts of things you mention could have been achieved/observed by identifying hogs naturally – and are, by many people. However, very small discreet marks are not so much of a problem. (Although water based paint is usually recommended as opposed to nail varnish, because it is less smelly, even after drying). It should be possible to mark a hedgehog in a way that no-one other than the marker would even realise it had been artificially marked and it sounds as if this may be what you are trying to do. I am sure people would not find it so distressing if a hedgehog was only marked with a tiny discreet mark.

    From what you say, you are trying to mark the hedgehogs without causing distress to them. But, to achieve the level of excessive marking (similar to the photographs) I am not sure the same could be said. If you see the photographs in the tweet mentioned above you will get an idea of what I mean.

    You may be interested to hear that I recently spoke to someone at the RSPCA regarding this subject. The person I spoke to was surprised to hear that people marked hedgehogs. Their comment was something along the lines that they knew people marked sheep, but they were animals which belonged to someone, which wild hedgehogs did not.

    My original post in this topic was to try to encourage people to have a go at identifying hedgehogs by their natural markings and to this end, I tried to give tips about that. (But, as I have said elsewhere, clearly not everyone can or will sign up to this, so I included tips about marking hedgehogs appropriately.) Many people think that hedgehogs all look the same, but that really isn’t the case. It really can be rewarding identifying naturally. I have no special talents and many other people recognise hedgehogs naturally, as I do. Perhaps you may give it a try – you might surprise yourself.

    I can tell from what you have written that you care about the hedgehogs and I am pleased to hear that hedgehog numbers there are improving again. Sorry to hear about poor Turquoise. It is distressing finding a dead hedgehog, especially one you have got to know.


    Hi Mousieteddy11,

    Like Nic says, it’s not the small discreet marks on the back of the neck that are a problem; indeed many rescues use them to identify their patients. It is the large 1” inch wide stripes that are increasingly being used. I am sure that you wouldn’t be best pleased if your regular visitor of three years Bluey turned up sporting a large stripe the entire length of his body, particularly if you got the chance to take a photo whilst the light nights are upon us. I think the problem is that many people are now using trail cameras and small discreet marks do not show up on them. It really is worth the extra effort trying to identify them by their own markings. We now have three visitors that I can identify just by their body shape alone. Boris is so distinctive that I managed to identify him the other night just by his silhouette!

    It sounds like you are doing a great job, many of us keep records of our prickly visitors and any information gleaned from these secretive creatures can only be a good thing. Interesting about the sheep wool slug pellets and the self anointing (I know what you mean about the smell!). One of our lot was caught self anointing exiting the feeding station, but there was nothing in our garden out of the ordinary to trigger it. My theory is that they use it to cover up their own scent to prevent fellow hogs from following them when they just want a bit of peace and quiet. 🙂


    Hi all.

    Rather like WildCaz last year, this post has prompted me to register here. I’ve been watching a number of hogs in my garden throughout the summer – it’s the first time I’ve seen any in my garden for at least 20 years so I’ve been excitedly sitting out in the garden for 30-60 mins pretty much every night watching them feed.
    A couple of nights ago I thought I spotted a mark on one of my visitors, and then last night I could clearly see that two had been clearly marked with rather large stripes.
    I’m absolutely furious. Instead of the usual joy at hearing and seeing them, I was left with an overriding feeling of anger that someone feels it’s within their right to selfishly mark them for their own purposes. Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching them as closely as the twilight allows to work out which hog is which, but now that has been taken away as the paintwork is so clearly visible.
    Angry angry angry!!!

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