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  • #36244

    A fascinating topic! Quirky query. I have at least two hogs visiting my feeding station and they are really quite clean – since mid-January I’d say only 3 or 4 times have I found poo in the feeder. Last year there were only a handful of occasions when there was poo in the feeder. On the other hand my sister (who has at least 3 hogs visiting) finds a lot of poo several times a week in her feeder. She often has two hogs visiting the feeder at the one time – on these occasions there’s most poo around. I know hogs are not territorial, so assume this isn’t some kind of scent-marking ritual. So, are the Highland hogs up here north of Inverness just better house-trained than the mucky little critters down in Galloway? Or does the presence of another hog encourage bowel movements? Or do they like to poo in the same places? Is my sister just unlucky? Hope nobody is eating their dinner while reading this.

    #36246

    Nic

    Hi Mags63

    I have also noticed that i.e. when I have only had one hog visiting – in particular, hogs over-wintering, at different times males and females (so no difference between male/female) – that there was never any poo around the food area. But when there are multiple hogs around there is much more likely to be poo around. Video images also seem to be more likely to show a hog pooing if there were other hogs around.

    So, whilst, as you say, hogs are not territorial, and so thinking it may not be anything to do with that, (I imagine there would be no need to have scenting rituals without being territorial) I have wondered in the past if there is an element of stress involved – causing them to poo when other hogs are around. In the normal course of events hogs would not congregate at the same place, unless it was a courting pair of hogs (or hoglets). So we are, in effect, encouraging them to behave in a way which is not natural to them. So it wouldn’t be surprising (to me, anyway) if they were a bit stressed by multiple hogs being around. Males could potentially be about to be biffed and females about to be pursued by a male, when actually she might have been wanting to eat.

    I have seen the preponderance of hog poo around feeding stations being suggested to be something to do with the fast gut transit of hogs, but that wouldn’t explain why, when there is only a solitary hog visiting (or one hog at a time), there is often no poo at all left at feeding stations. Hence my wondering about stress. I don’t mean hugely stressed, but maybe just enough to bring on a poo.

    Thinking whilst writing, I suppose it’s possible, that the poos may give other hedgehogs some indication of the health of the hog (like a bit of a signpost) – for instance whether a female would be a good potential mother to a male hog’s offspring (or the other way round). Although that seems a bit of a stretch when hogs seem to be fairly promiscuous – females are known to mate with more than one male on the same night and the males seem to follow almost any adult female they meet, if they aren’t rolled up by another male. I can’t immediately think of any other advantage and if that was the reason, male hogs normally show who is most dominant by rolling up the hogs which are les dominant – so if female hogs wanted to mate with the most dominant hog they would be able to tell that way.

    I don’t suppose we’ll ever know for sure! Hogs seem to be good at keeping little secrets from us! It’s part of their mystery. But my observations seem to fit in with those of yours and your sisters.

    #36250

    hi Nic, spoke too soon as this morning I had to clean up a bit of poo inside the feeder. My trailcam is usually inside the feeder but I had set it up outside last night and did see two hogs having a bit of a rugby scrum near the entrance. We had wondered if there was a bit of ‘nervous stress’ related to the amount of poo my sister finds in her feeder. She regularly has 2 hogs in at a time, although they are usually quite accepting of each other and she has sent me several clips of two hogs peacefully eating side by side. Although she has a real action clip of two peacefully sharing supper when a 3rd gatecrashed – instant mayhem with food flying. The only times I have footage of more than one inside the feeder there is snorting/hissing and some shoving. And one occasion where I suspect it was a male sniffing round a female for about an hour, while she sat on the food dish frowning and snorting. Nice to see spring weather and warmth this week, although the forecast for next week is a bit wintry – the ‘lambing snow’ no doubt.

    #36260

    Nic

    Hi Mags63

    Sounds about right the hog deciding to poo there just after this conversation. They seem to like being contrary! Can almost hear a hog saying ‘silly humans trying to work out why we do what we do – I’ll just do something different to confuse them all!!’

    In general hoglets seem to actively like sharing and females sometimes will share with some other females, but not others. With males it’s unusual for them to share (other than with a hoglet). So your sister’s two hogs happily eating together could have been youngsters or females. But there are always exceptions. I have known of two males spending the day in the same box.

    If that was a female hog inside your feeder – good for her telling him off! I often used to think it looked as if a female here was saying ‘leave me alone, can’t you see I’m trying to eat!!’ when a male was pestering her. I used to find that the females tended to turn up earlier so they got a chance to eat before the males turned up, but it didn’t always work.

    Yes, it’s lovely having some warm dry weather – but still some frosts in the early mornings. Fingers crossed for no snow!

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