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Strange behaviour

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Strange behaviour

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  • #21773

    I have a couple of trail cameras which I set in my urban garden at night and which have been filming at least two hedgehogs over the past few weeks.

    Last night one of them did something strange, which I’ve not seen before.
    The animal seems to fold it’s forelegs down, so it pushes it’s chest along the ground. I’d like to post a 20 second video, but can’t see a link to let me do that.

    From my description, can anyone suggest what it’s doing, or tell me how to upload the video clip?


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    Hi Rob

    It sounds like a behaviour which has been talked about on the forum before. If I’m thinking of the right thing, it almost looks as if they are scent marking, but also maybe rubbing their chins. As I recall we didn’t reach a definitive answer, but it is something which seems to happen quite often.

    If the video is somewhere else on the internet, you can put a link on the forum. If it isn’t you can put still images on Hedgehog Street:
    That used to take a few days to get there, but may be quicker now – not sure.

    If you can’t use a link, let us know when/where the image is.


    Hi Nic
    I’ve posted the video on my Facebook page at

    Hope you can see it


    Hi Rob,
    I can’t see your video, however I have seen hedgehogs regularly do this on camera and while observing in person. Interestingly I have seen both male and female hedgehogs do it and it does look a lot like scent marking. They like to do it on my gravel paths and stone patio. They will lower their chins and drag themselves along but only for a few moments.

    In the hotter months I have seen them do similar where they will flatten themselves completely with their legs outstretched for a minute or two – this is to help them cool down and I believe I have seen some people call it ‘splatting’ or ‘pancaking’.

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    Hi Rob

    Sorry not on Facebook, so can’t see it. But it does sound like what I was saying. It looks a bit as if they are scent marking, but apparently they don’t have scent glands there, so possibly that isn’t the real reason. Maybe they’re just scratching/rubbing their chins/necks/underneath.

    There is a lot about hogs that we still don’t know for sure, but you will find that sometimes theories are stated as facts, which isn’t ideal. There can also be some confusion between the behaviour of our wild European hedgehogs and the African Pygmy hedgehogs which some people keep as pets. i.e. some sites are talking about those, rather than the wild Euoropean hedgehogs.

    Not sure about the stretching out to cool down thing. If they (wild European hedgehogs) were behaving like that during the day, it would suggest something was wrong with them. They could be unwell.


    Thanks Nic, this is useful. I’d been wondering why I kept on filming them when I didn’t seem to be seeing anything new, now suddenly I see a behaviour I’ve not seen before, and which appears to be unexplained. I shall keep on, particularly as I’m self-isolating, so have .. er .. quite a bit of time!

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    Hi Rob

    If you’re really keen, you might like to try identifying hogs by their natural markings. Now might be an ideal opportunity. It can be quite rewarding and sometimes makes a bit more sense of some of the behaviour. These are some tips which I put together a while back.

    If you want a book to read about hogs, I recommend ‘Hedgehogs’ by Pat Morris. Try to get an up-to-date version. I think it has been revised at various times – originally written in 1983 so knowledge has moved on a bit since then. There are still one or two out of date things in my copy (2014) such as re. milk where the text seems slightly ambivalent, whereas nowadays it is generally accepted that hogs are lactose intolerant so shouldn’t be given milk at all. All they need to drink is water – so much easier, anyway!


    Hi Nic/Rob,

    Just to clarify the Hog I saw flattening itself was seen at night, not during the day and was a regular that I observed daily right up until hibernation. She only ‘splatted’ on really muggy evenings and she was eating and drinking as normal. I have a friend who is a vet and she told me it could be a cooling down mechanism. I do worry about any behaviour out of the norm so it is helpful to have a vet on hand to ask about these things! She often treats wild hogs and has a list of local carers on hand for advice.

    It is fascinating to see all this behaviour. I wonder why hedgehogs are not more widely studied to help solve these mysteries!


    I have also seen this behaviour many times from different hogs. The first time I captured it on video I was concerned it might be the onset of the dreaded metabolic bone disease as it almost looked like the hog was falling flat on its stomach, but it would immediately get up and carry on as normal. I then thought it might be due to uneven ground and a trip or something, but that theory was also dismissed following subsequent sightings.
    It doesn’t seem to last long enough to be like scratching or cleaning, but I guess must have some purpose.

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    Hi Sam 1404

    Yes, I wasn’t suggesting that the hog you saw was out during the day, but we all need to be aware that other people read these posts and may make their own interpretations of what’s said. So it’s useful to be aware that a hog stretched out with its legs extended could be unwell, especially if it appears to be sunbathing. Being wild animals, hedgehogs can appear to be otherwise well when they aren’t.

    Hedgehogs are studied, but there is the problem not only of funds but the inconvenient habit they have of disappearing into people’s gardens and into undergrowth! But in reality, you would have to ‘get into the mind of a hedgehog’ to know why it was rubbing it’s chin along the ground. Other animals rub their bodies – or parts of them- along the ground/other surfaces, so why shouldn’t hedgehogs. It isn’t an unusual behaviour. But all too often people will say, as a fact, that certain behaviours are because …. etc. when actually that is just their or someone else’s theory based on seeing the behaviour a few times, or hearsay. Then before long other people begin to state it as fact, especially in these days of social media. But there is probably something new to learn about the behaviour of many animals.

    I think it would be a mistake to assume that just because someone is a vet or even a hog carer that they necessarily know any more about hedgehog behaviour in the wild than anyone else might. Any more than an expert in wild hedgehog behaviour would necessarily know any more about caring for sick/injured hedgehogs than anyone else. Some may do both, although I imagine time restraints might make that limiting. Although I can see it must be useful knowing a vet, if you have a sick or injured hedgehog.

    Personally, I don’t like the term splatting used in relation to wild hedgehog behaviour. Collins dictionary definition: ‘splat is used to describe the sound of something wet hitting a surface with a lot of force.’ Not a nice thought in terms of a hedgehog, I feel.

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