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Painted Hedgehog?

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Painted Hedgehog?

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    We have a hedgehog happily living under our deck and usually see him at night but yesterday I saw him (or her, or possibly a new hedgehog) in broad daylight on my neighbours drive opposite. At first glance I thought he was injured because he was brightly coloured on his lower right hand side. Looking closely it was clearly not blood as it was a bright purple shade and as he scampered away I saw it was both sides.
    I have read about tracking programs that use luminous paint on hedgehogs.
    Should I report this and to whom?

    Avatar photo

    Glad to hear you have a hedgehog living in your garden.

    Sadly, there are all too many people around who will mark hedgehogs, sometimes in outrageous manner, for their own particular convenience and/or amusement. It seems quite likely that that is what has happened there.

    One of the many disadvantages to this marking is that it can cover up skin problems or even, since it has become so widespread, that a skin problem can be thought to be marking and so not get treatment. I suppose it’s just possible the hedgehog you’re referring to has had some kind of skin problem and the purple is some sort of treatment (I have no way of knowing), but it doesn’t sound like it from your description.

    There are very few reasons when marking a hedgehog might be acceptable. Scientific research is one. However, it seems unlikely that a hog would be marked in the way you describe as part of a properly organised and licensed scientific study. They usually use hollow numbered tubes which are attached to individual spines so that the spines can still move independently. If the hedgehog is painted the spines could be stuck together meaning that they can no longer move independently which is likely to cause discomfort to the hog.

    The following is an extract from BHPS FAQs:
    “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.

    If you consider that the marking of the hedgehog is cruelty, you could try reporting it to the RSPCA or alternatively the wildlife section of the Police and see what they say about it. Hedgehogs are listed under the Wild Mammals Protection Act (1996), which prohibits cruel treatment of hedgehogs.

    Just one more thing. As you saw the hedgehog out during the day, the following is another extract from BHPS FAQs which you might like to bear in mind:
    Are Hedgehogs meant to be out in the daylight?
    Not usually no. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they shouldn’t really be seen out in daylight hours. Some of the exceptions to this are pregnant females gathering nesting materials just before she gives birth, or a new ‘Mum’ taking a break from the nest to get food and water while her young sleep. Sometimes, when the nights are short, a hungry hedgehog may forage around dusk and dawn. However, these hedgehogs would move quickly with purpose. If a hedgehog is lethargic, lay out, has flies around it, is wobbly, or gives you any other cause for concern, please call us for advice ASAP on 01584 890 801.

    I hope, for your sake, that it wasn’t the hog living in your garden that is marked. It can be quite upsetting when a hog we have come to know well suddenly turns up with graffiti on it. Although, of course sad that any hog should be excessively marked.

    Good luck and happy hog watching.


    Perhaps it wasn’t intentional? Many years ago, we had a hedgehog that squeezed under a newly painted gate and ended up with a blue strip down the middle of his back.


    Thanks for the replies. The hedgehog was out in daylight (around 5pm) which I thought was unusual and he scampered away quite briskly as I had 2 dogs on leads who were showing interest (obviously I didn’t allow them to get close to it), so I didn’t have the impression he was injured.
    Haven’t seen him since but I’ll keep an eye out.

    In response to the possibility of the colouring being ‘accidental’, it was around his underside (both sides) so unless he rolled under something on his back or hurdled a freshly painted object I don’t think that theory stands up. Unless it was Sonic! 🙂

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