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Strange markings

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Strange markings

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
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  • #6747

    We have a large number of hogs that visit us, how do we know? They have different marking/patches on them or so we think. The patches show up as white on the trail cam pics. If we’re right we may have had as many as 9 different ones, though we’ve only had 3 at any one time. We worry that they may have something wrong with them, though they seem healthy enough. Any insight would be welcomed.


    I know what you mean about markings that appear white on the trail cam, I have several come in with the same. I have one with two clear white strakes down the back which has been visiting for 3 years now so clearly isn’t in any mortal danger. I put it down to some encounter with an over-enthusaistic amorous male at some point?


    I have a male visitor who has exactly the same kind of marks as you describe which show up white on the trail camera. I’m relieved to hear that he isn’t the only one as I too worried it might be indicative of disease. However, he has been around for 3 years also and appears to be healthy.

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    Hi lita28mya

    It sounds to me as if someone may have artificially marked the hedgehogs which are visiting you.

    It is a sad fact in this day and age that some humans feel the need to artificially mark hedgehogs, often for their own convenience, to fit in with their own lifestyles. In most cases this in no way benefits the hedgehog. On the contrary, it can potentially be detrimental to the hedgehogs by encouraging them to become habituated to humans and, potentially, interfering with their social interations, including reproduction, because of the unnatural smell of the marking. It can also get into other hog’s eyes, if they biff them, or onto hoglets, if it is a female which is marked.

    Hedgehogs are wild animals and are best allowed to remain wild animals. Humans should only interfere with them if it is for the hedgehog’s benefit.

    Far better to leave the hedgehogs to be their wild, natural, beautiful selves. It is possible to identify hedgehogs from their natural markings. This is probably easier if you see them in real time, rather than on film, but even on film, there are distinguishing natural features on most of the hedgehogs. I would encourage you to take the time to identify them the natural way. This can be more rewarding and has the benefit that you can identify the hedgehogs year after year when they return from hibernation. It also has the benefit that hedgehogs are left in their natural wild beauty, so that everyone else can also enjoy seeing them as they are meant to be.

    Good luck to you and the hedgehogs.


    Thanks for the replies, much appreciated. I don’t think our hogs have been marked deliberately, at least not by our immediate neighbours as we have a very nice area where everyone is very happy to let them roam unhindered. We’ve gone to the trouble of making a hedgehog highway between our gardens. Besides, we’re an aged population that probably can’t get down far enough to mark them even if we wanted to! ;0)
    Thanks again, Lita

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    Hedgehogs can travel quite a long way – the males 1-2 miles in a night, so if someone is marking them, they may not be in the immediate neighbourhood. It would seem strange that 9 different hedgehogs would have patches on them otherwise. It is not normal for hogs to have white patches on them naturally (although they do sometimes have 2 or 3 individual pale spines), but it seems to be becoming more common for people to mark them, so that would be my guess.

    You are lucky to have lots of neighbours who are happy to help the hedgehogs. Sounds an ideal place for them with all those gardens to visit.


    We have a 3 hedgehogs in out garden. We have named them as they are easy to tell apart and i know what they are. We have Harriet (girl) Piglet (smaller girl) and a big male called Al. I think something might be wrong with Al as he has some strange white markings. I dont think its paint or chalk but he has had them for a while. Ive read about people marking them but i dont think this is the case for him.


    I have hedgehogs that
    visit my front garden and
    for the last couple of
    nights a large one has
    been coming in with a
    white patch on his back.
    I thought maybe a
    leaf or something had
    caught on his spines at
    first but after taking a
    picture from the cam
    and enlarging it I realised
    it was some kind of
    I found hedgehog
    street today when
    I was searching for an
    answer as to why there
    was a patch on it.

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    Hi Rachel0712

    Most of us don’t like to think of our hedgehog visitors being artificially marked, but sadly that is most often the explanation for white markings on the spines. People use all sorts of different subtsances, it seems. As it sounds as if you have found, it is possible to recognise individual hedgehogs by their natural markings so that it’s unnecessary as well as inappropriate to artificially mark them.

    Lovely to hear about Harriet, Piglet and Al. I hope they are all doing well.


    Hi everyone, new member here so I’m a bit late to the party.

    I was clearing my garden in August and unfortunately I raked through a pile of twigs that was a hedgehog nest, I put the nest back and cancelled clearing my garden; mum moved her nest twice and everything worked out ok.

    I started leaving food out for mum and I bought myself a trail cam so that I could film her in my garden. A couple of weeks later two hoglets appeared, I’ve named them Gizmo and Snoop Hogg and I’ve filmed them every day since late August.

    All of them have markings on their bodies that glow white on the infrared night vision, one of the hoglets has three stripes down one side, I’ve watched the hoglets since the day they left the nest and I can assure you all that nobody has painted them or put any markings on them, the markings are natural but they might not be white like they appear to be on the night vision images.

    I’ve filmed myself when I’ve been in the garden and my black trousers glow white on the night vision, so it is possible that the markings are actually dark but glow white with infrared light. A black and white patchy dog will have black and white patchy skin below its fur, like birthmarks, perhaps hedgehogs are the same.

    I’ve bought and made several hog-houses for them and Gizmo has been busy building a nest in one of them, he used to go home to mum every day just before light but a couple of days ago he moved in permanently. I expect that Snoop Hogg also has a nest somewhere but its not on camera so I don’t know where it is. I weighed one a week ago and it was 440g, it was 200g two weeks previously so I think they will be well above the 500g needed to survive hibernation and I’ll be seeing them again next year.

    Hope all of your hogs and hoglets are doing well.

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    Hi GreenJelly1

    Welcome to the Forum. It’s good to hear about the hogs there.

    The thing about marks on the hogs is that although you may not have marked them, someone else may have done. Hogs can travel up to 2 miles a night so there is plenty of potential for other people to mark them. Hogs do not naturally have such marks on them. Hedgehogs sometimes have a few white spines in very small areas, but not stripes and spots. Things do appear differently in infra-red light, but many of us have night cameras and so are used to the effects of them.

    But also some hedgehos ‘acquire’ markings when they are older. Very many people film hedgehogs regularly and over long periods of time and so it becomes obvious when someone has marked hedgehogs which might be already recognisable to people by their natural markings. There are some natural slight variations in their colouring and particularly in their skirts which can have gradations of colouring along their length, as well as natural variations in facial markings, but not well marked stripes and spots on their spines.

    There is some new information about marking hedgehogs from Hedgehog Street:

    If the hoglet already weighs 440g and is still being offered supplementary food it should easily make the recommended minimum weight for hogs already in the wild, which is 450g. Sadly even if hogs reach that minimum weight, hibernation is a very dangerous time for them and some will not survive regardless of how much they weigh. so it’s always a worrying time, but always a joy when old friends return in the Spring.

    If you want the other hoglet to use one of your other houses, it’s a good idea to leave their nest building materials of choice nearby. i.e. medium sized leaves, long grasses, etc. nearby and place a handful of material in the boxes. Most hogs prefer to build their own nests and are experts at it – even hoglets who seem naturally to know how to build them.

    I expect you already do, but it’s a good idea to leave water available to the hogs all day every day, just in case a thirsty hog comes out during the day. Wide but shallow plant saucers are ideal for that.

    I hope the hogs there continue to do well.
    Good luck and happy hog watching.


    Hi Nic, thank you for your swift reply,

    My garden had been neglected for three or four years so it was completely overgrown with brambles and weeds. I had cleared about one third of it when I discovered the nest and I stopped work to protect the hogs, the other two thirds of my garden is still overgrown.

    Mum moved her nest about six feet away from her original nest, I couldn’t see it but I could hear her when it got dark so I had some idea of where she was, I was leaving food for her and I watched her come out and eat it. A few days later she moved her nest again to the other end of the garden, I still didn’t know where the nest was but I could still hear her in the evenings. I didn’t see her any more because she was going out the other way and through my neighbours garden, my neighbour caught her on his security cameras, and she stopped eating the food that I was leaving for her.

    Shortly after that I got my trail-cam and I started filming my garden every night and a few days later two hoglets appeared, they were coming out of the brambles and venturing just a few feet into the cleared area and then going back into the brambles and back under cover. They were amusing to watch because they kept falling over and getting stuck behind twigs and leaves, they were tiny, smaller than a tennis ball, it was their first adventures outside of their family nest. Every day they would venture a little further and after a few days they were doing laps of the garden and mapping out their environment, after a week or two they were going through the hole in the fence and exploring outside, sometimes they’d come back through the hole in the fence and sometimes they’d go right round the houses and come back through my neighbours garden.

    I have filmed and photographed those hoglets every day since the first day that they left the nest, nobody has been into my garden and painted them and they didn’t leave my garden for a couple of weeks, three or four week old hoglets that can barely walk don’t travel up to 2 miles a night; the mother and both of the hoglets have markings on their bodies that glow white on the night vision images and they are natural markings not paint or any other kind of unnatural markings put there by human beings, one of the hoglets has three distinctive marks across its left flank that resemble stripes. These makings appear to be on the skin below the spines and shining through because of the infrared light, like a birthmark or a skin defect, they are not different coloured spines like different coloured feathers on a bird.

    I have videos and photos that clearly show these marks that have always been there for the several weeks that I have been filming them. There are also several posts on here from other people stating that they have filmed hedgehogs with white markings on them that glow in the night vision images, that is the reason I wrote my reply, each time someone mentions the fact you inform them that sombody must have painted them, perhaps you are mistaken about markings on hedgehogs and people marking them with paint rather than everybody else being mistaken about what they know they are looking at.

    I’ve seen pictures and videos on these posts but I don’t know how to do all that stuff, if I did I’d post some videos and pictures so that you could see for yourself that I have a hoglet running round my garden that has three glowing white stripes on its side, so unfortunately you’ll just have to take my word for it. And the word of all the other posters who have filmed hogs with markings on them. I attempted to put a picture of a marked hoglet in my profile picture but I can’t do that either because I can’t find an upload button, I input the name of the image but when I press ‘update profile’ it just goes back to the begining without loading the picture.

    It has been a week or so since the hoglet weighed in at 440g, it had gained 240g in two weeks and they are both eating plenty so they should both be fat enough when it is time for them to hibernate. They both disappear for long periods now but they come back a couple of times a night for a feed and a drink of water, then Gizmo goes into his house for a sleep and Snoop Hogg disappears into the brambles, I guess that he has built his own nest somewhere in the brambles or perhaps he is still returning to the family nest hoping for a feed from mum.

    I’ve put three hog-houses in the clearing, eventually they will be spaced round the garden but I can’t do that until next year when I can clear the rest of the garden without disturbing hedgehog nests, so for now they’re all together. I put a hand full of leaves and a hand full of straw in each house and lots of straw outside all of the houses. Gizmo collects all of the straw from all of the houses and crams it into his nest, it must be full to the rafters by now but he keeps cramming more in, must be nice and toasty in there. All of the hogs have been into at least one of the houses, Gizmo goes in and out of all of them, but only Gizmo has built a nest and moved in. My garden has a big pile of junk in it that is completely overgrown with brambles and hedgehog friendly stuff, I think they must be spoilt for choice for places to build a nest so I’m not too worried that only one hog-house is being used.

    There’s always food and water for them for as long as they continue to eat it, when they hibernate I’ll stop leaving the food but I’ll make sure there is always water there. Not sure if I will be monitoring my camera through the winter, its a lot of work to find out that there’s nothing to see, but if I notice anything up and about I’ll leave some food with the water for a couple of days to see what happens.

    Best regards.

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    Hi GreenJelly1

    Another possibility, of course, is that the hoglets (and potentially the Mother) could have got the markings from rubbing against some of the junk you say you have in your garden. Infra red light can have strange effects on some substances.

    Glad to hear the hogs have plenty of provision for them for winter housing. It doesn’t really matter if the hog houses are near each other. Sometimes more than one hog will nest underneath (say) a shed so they don’t seem to mind being fairly near to other hedgehogs for hibernation. It seems that a good site may be more important than the proximity of other hedgehogs.

    I usually keep my cameras running (during dark, only) just in case a hog turns up unexpectedly, then I can leave food out the next night. Usually, although not always, if a hog is on a video it’s there at the beginning of a clip, so it’s possible to get through them by only watching the beginning – although I usually skip through the clips as well. But It doesn’t take so long, once you get used to skimming through them.

    You can put pictures/videos onto Hedgehog Street via the home page and the gallery. and follow the instructions. Once an image is on the internet it’s possible to add it to the forum by adding the link.

    Good luck to the hogs there and all hogs for a safe and successful hibernation.


    The white markings that people are reporting in these posts are most probably the result of a common hedgehog behaviour called ‘self-anointing’. Hedgehogs spread a frothy saliva over their spines, and even after this dries it leaves irregular whitish smear marks that are conspicuous in trail camera images. Although it would help to see photos of the markings to be certain, I think it’s extremely unlikely that the marks described in these posts are due to somebody’s freelance marking experiment.
    Why do hedgehogs self-anoint? Since adult males do it more than females, it was thought to be something to do with sexual advertisement, but it may be more complicated than that. Self-anointing can be triggered by various substances (mostly smelly ones), and all ages and sexes sometimes do it. Here’s an interesting article.

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    Hi Sylfest

    I’m not sure even hedgehogs are clever enough to self annoint in geometric patterns – which is how the patterns sometimes are when hogs are artificially marked! Also, some of the marks appear as dark marks on night images on camera rather than pale ones.

    But yes, self annointing is an interesting behaviour. Interestingly I observed a slightly similar situation to one of those described in the Wildlife Online article, when a female hog who had been at a wildlife hospital due to an injury was released. Before exiting the box, she stopped just inside the doorway of the box and self annointed, almost as if she was trying to ‘cover up’ the smell of captivity before leaving.

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