The perils of trying to predict hedgehogs
18th June 2018 at 7:17 pm #9998
I’ve written a new post on my blog with three short videos from inside the hog-house.
Inevitably the word “contractions” came to mind …
If anyone has views on what the “spasms” could be and whether (if they are pregnancy related) they are indicative of imminent delivery, please leave a comment – either here or there.28th June 2018 at 6:28 pm #10175
So the hedgehog box as not been occupied for 11 days. However in the last couple of days, hedgehog food has been disappearing. So it may be that she was pregnant but gave birth elsewhere, and is now starting to revisit my area now that the hoglets are big enough to survive for a few hours on their own. Of course the current hot weather may be forcing mother hogs farther from the nest than they would like in search of water.
Of course there are other explanations – she may have been killed (roads or strimmer, for example, but probably not badgers given the urban setting) and the disappearing food may be another hedgehog (although I have never seen more than one hog at a time), or a cat (although my cat turns her nose up at the hedgehog food, thankfully). The food going was enough inducement for me to order a trail cam, in the meantime I have placed a twig over the entrance to the hog-house, although the view from my in-house camera suggests the nest hasn’t been disturbed at all.29th June 2018 at 1:11 am #10189
I had a look at your videos. It is difficult to tell what is going on in the ‘contraction’ one. I wasn’t completely sure which way the hog was facing, but if it was her rear end facing us, you could imagine that she might be giving birth. Not having ever seen it before I couldn’t really say one way or the other. If she was giving birth it seems a bit odd that she would leave so soon after, but I believe there is a high mortality rate amongst tiny babies.
Glad to hear you are getting a trail cam. Hopefully that will throw more light on things.29th June 2018 at 6:58 pm #10207
I wasn’t completely sure which way the hog was facing
Yes the hog was lying on her left side with her rear end toward the bottom of the frame; the “kicking“ leg was her rear right one.
After that “contractions” video she went out (presumably to feed) and she returned during the night, rested up during the day and did another set of spasms/contractions the following evening. She left again in the evening but really quite late and from this trip she didn’t return (unless briefly during the night).
I think that if there were babies born in my box, I would see them (or their remains); the camera looks down on the nest from over the entrance hole so when she leaves, there is a clear view into the nest space she has made. I suppose she might remove dead hoglets, but would she bother if all had died and she was about to abandon the nest?29th June 2018 at 7:51 pm #10211
I did see one of my hogs having ‘contractions’ but then it brought up something – which it then immediately re-ate! I assumed it had caught something in its throat which , having cleared it, it then chewed! No signs of babies here yet!29th June 2018 at 8:50 pm #10219
Afraid to say, I couldn’t work out where the kicking leg was! I think you really need someone who has seen hogs giving birth to know whether that is what it was. But, apparently hogs will sometimes eat their babies if they are disturbed when they are tiny, and I suppose it’s possible they might do the same if they thought something was amiss with them or they were born dead or something. I know it sounds horrid, but it’s nature’s way, I suppose, of making use of what she has just put in to producing them.
I have seen a hog having sort of spasms, too, DwarfHog and imagined she was coughing, but it looked a bit different from the video.
I cant remember Phil1. Do we know she is definitely a female?29th June 2018 at 9:56 pm #10225
Sorry, I wrote the above post from memory, when I rewatched the video now, I’d say the hog is lying more horizontally in the frame, with her rear end to the left and head to the right; she is lying on her left hand side though. As you watch you can see a single piece of straw in the centre of the frame, at about 19sec in her ear appears quite clearly just to the right of the piece of straw.
No, I don’t know for sure its a female – to me it looks like the one that nested and produced 3 hoglets in the box last year – but my experience of telling hedgehogs apart is not large :-).
Dwarfhog; no I don’t think this is a coughing fit, the rear leg is doing the most movement. Although I’ve only uploaded a short section of this, these esipodes came and went over a period of an hour and then were repeated (albeit less clearly) the following night. After the episodes on both nights, the hog seemed to recover from it, went out of the house, got a drink of water, had a normal flea-scratch and ambled off in the direction of the food bowl (but didn’t eat from it) …3rd July 2018 at 10:47 pm #10315
So my trail cam came yesterday, and I installed it that evening. So today I got a chance to see what was happening. Unfortunately I positioned the camera too upright and it cropped the bottom half of the subject – so none of the videos are worth posting, but it did reveal what’s going on.
I had 4 visits, 3 from a hedgehog and 1 from a cat. The hedgehog came at 10.50pm, midnight and about 4am. I think it is the same one each time and probably the same one as was using the nest box – it is obviously difficult to tell since I only caught the top half, and hedgehogs aren’t that easy to distinguish from each other. The food and water were both gone this morning.
So my best guess is this:
The hedgehog that I videoed in the nest box (see link above) was in later stages of pregnancy. After the second day of spasms, her evening foraging took her sufficiently far from my box and close to her other nest (my box had been occupied about 50% of the time prior to this, so its clear she had at least one other nest site) that she rested up there and gave birth there. This would explain the approx 14 day hiatus after she left my box and my food started to be eaten again, since she was feeding the hoglets and presumably far enough from my site that she couldn’t go very far from them until now.
If there are multiple hedgehogs, or if she wasn’t pregnant (or wasn’t a she) then how to explain the hiatus in feeding from my bowl and the continued vacancy at my hog house (2+ weeks) ?
If it’s correct, then I might expect hoglets on hunting trips with mum around the end of July and perhaps the box may be temporarily occupied by one of the hoglets (or mum again) once the family disperse.
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