The Return of the Hogs
10th May 2017 at 11:00 pm #6304
My first 2017 hog sighting was on 7th April which, spookily, was the exact same date as last year! I’m pretty sure it was one of last years visitors as it has quite distinctive dark eye patches and a small blaze on its forehead which I recognise from last year. As I assumed it was not that long out of hibernation what surprised me was how big it was as it was already a bit of a bruiser – do they put on weight/size very quickly after they wake up? The one I saw first last year was a much smaller hoggie and a lot more slight in appearance. I haven’t seen any other hogs so far, last year I had at least 5 different individuals visiting, which is a bit of a concern but plenty of time yet for more to visit. The one currently visiting also seems to arrive at varying times compared to last years visitors which were far more regular in their timed arrivals. Following advice on food on Hedgehog Street I have tried tinned chicken cat food but it is just ignored however it snuffles up the special meat hog biscuits I bought but I still give it a few meal worms on the side as a treat along with plenty of water. It also rummages nosily around in my small log pile and leaves it in quite a mess so hopefully it is also finding natural food as well.11th May 2017 at 12:00 am #6315
Very punctual hedgehog you have there! Datewise, at least. I always think last year’s hoglets look bigger when they come back. Am never sure whether it is just because I am remembering them when they were younger. I expect some more will come when they find the scent of the first one. At least one of my last year’s regular visitors has not returned and I see from my last year’s notes that she didn’t appear until later in May and then came almost every evening. A lot of them are a bit distracted at the moment, boys chasing girls and girls looking for boys! Sometimes a hedgehog arrives here and dashes off again without having time to eat anything!
I think a few mealworms is ok, as long as it isn’t too many. I think the main problems arise when people feed loads of mealworms/sunflower hearts/, etc. to the exclusion of anything else. I usually give them a few, but tend to cut them out when the hoglets are around, as apparently they are most at risk of becoming addicted to them.
I wouldn’t worry too much about trying out different hog foods, if you have found something they like. I don’t think they really like change too much and as long as it is a good hedgehog food, it should be fine for them.11th May 2017 at 10:09 pm #6326
Thank you for your reply. Although I did have 2 hogs visiting during April/May last year looking at my own notes it wasn’t really until the start of June that i had a profusion of hogs turn up so here’s hoping!
I think the one i have visiting is a male and, picking up on your point about dashing off, i was watching it and suddenly the snout went in the air, had a good sniff and it shot off like a bullet (it never ceases to amaze me how fast they can move when they want too). I didn’t see any threat turn up so I hoped it was a lady hog that got its attention but I didn’t see it after that until the next night and it wasn’t letting on about what happened!
As for food I have bought Wild Things hedgehog food (apparently made for happier hogs to give them a balanced diet) which is a poultry based nugget with dried fruit and nuts as well as vitamin additives which the hog munches on quite happily and seems to love them.
I see some people put out fresh banana for their hogs. i have never tried this but do you know if is this is a good food for hogs and is it worth giving it a go?
If I (hopefully) see hoglets later in the year I will stop the mealworm supplement. I do see the hog snuffling under my bird feeders (as well as a wood mouse which gets surprisingly close to the hog) which contain sunflower hearts, as the birds often drop them on the floor, but I doubt there are enough to get to worried about and it would be hard to try and pick them up before each dusk anyway.12th May 2017 at 9:19 am #6328
It never ceases to amaze me, the things people feed poor unsuspecting hedgehogs. They will eat all sorts of things if they are offered them. I wonder where, in their day to day wild lives, european hedgehogs would come across anything remotely resembling a banana. Bananas are quite sweet and sticky, so I presume have sugars in them, which is not good for hedgehogs tiny little teeth. They need their teeth. They can’t get false ones like humans!
I think part of the problem is that some people, nowadays, keep a different type of hedgehog, as pets and people often seem to feed their pets all sorts of unsuitable things – hence the problems with obesity in pets, which is now becoming more common. Some of the ‘advice’ on the internet, I suspect, springs from this.
To state the obvious, the hedgehogs which visit our gardens are wild animals, not pets. We don’t need to feed them what we would consider to be snacks or ‘treats’. I know people want to help hedgehogs, but, the best thing for them is good quality hedgehog food which has been scientifically tested to make sure it has suitable ingredients, nutritional value, etc., or cat/dog food.
I wish that people would use their inventiveness, instead, to think of better ways to improve the habitat for hedgehogs in their gardens, so that hedgehogs can find their own natural food.
If I were you, I would stick to the hedgehog food which you have found the hedgehogs like. No need for any extras and hopefully you will have healthier ‘happier hogs’ (!) visiting.
I agree, there is probably not enough to worry about spilt under the bird table. (That is how I first knew there were hogs here, many years ago, when I saw one under the bird table). Re. woodmice. One here went almost right up to the hog’s bowl (the boss hog, no less). He looked up in outrage (if a hog can do such a thing!) and the mouse made a hasty retreat.12th May 2017 at 11:10 am #6329
Hi both, can’t take the banana idea seriously either sorry, got images of cheese and onion on sticks and banana splits. A hedgehog apparently can smell a worm 2 inches below the soil surface so I read, I think he’d prefer a worm to be honest! Hedgehog food which is nutritionally balanced as Nic says is the best supplementary food.
I’ve seen a couple running recently and they look like hoggy versions of Usain Bolt, they can really move when they want to.
Happy viewing12th May 2017 at 8:32 pm #6336
Hi Nic and Wildlifehaven,
Thanks for your feedback on the banana theory which makes perfect sense to me as I”m not aware of any notable banana plantations in Britain where the hogs roam happy and free munching on various banana based recipes!
However it can get confusing what you should give them when you see posts saying hogs are being fed this and fed that = it seems to me they will eat almost anything that’s edible but its down to us to make sure we give them the right thing.
For my part I’m only looking to supplement the hogs diets as i want them to feast on their natural food. I have a large wood pile (where i know the wood mouse resides but don’t tell the neighbours!) as well as 2 smaller ones one of which is visited and nosily rummaged in each night by the hog no doubt looking for nice crunchy insects (interestingly the hog always ignores the other one?).
I also have plenty of messy areas of leaf litter etc and last night i saw something quite interesting (for me anyway) where the hog suddenly headed for and quickly displaced a pile of leafs throwing them everywhere then rooted around the exposed ground and i could see it had found something nice to eat but not sure what but insects of some type i guess.
Last night also saw a second, slightly smaller, hog turn up in my garden. I find it interesting to watch their different behaviours and personalities. This smaller one came across as more timid and moved slower around the garden and didn’t really eat much and was more interested in sniffing around – maybe it could smell the other hog but it didn’t stay long probably 15 minutes tops so maybe it didn’t like what it smelt.
However the big bruiser (the leaf thrower above) that I saw first this year is always up on his toes constantly moving around and doing short sprints for no apparent reason as well as sniffing the air quite often. It also hangs around for as long as 2 hours in the garden – once its eaten my food supplement it goes rummaging in the leaf litter and log pile as well as enjoying a good scratching session from time to time. It also likes to go through the flower pots on my patio where i guess it also find some nice crunchy insects.
Anyway dusk draws near and hopefully i will get to see some more of these endearing creatures habits and foibles and wish you both happy hog viewing too.12th May 2017 at 10:01 pm #6337
My orchard this year has suddenly become alive with hedgehogs but that may be that I am becoming more observant of their habits. I have a patch of land that I have allowed to become quite wild,long grass, brambles woodpiles and nettles and a few pine trees. Monday night I saw 5 hedgehogs in various parts of the garden and orchard,Wednesday and Thursday I only saw one but was intrigued by some prolonged sniffing under one of the low conifers. Tonight i found the answer to the sniff. Two hedghogs were easy to observe under some conifers with no low branches. The two were circling each other and neither looked like they wanted to leave. Was this a courtship ritual? I observed them for about twenty minutes and tried to record them but unfortunately it was too dark for my camera to pick up. Whilst I was watching these two another hog came ambling past behind me but showed no interest in the sniffing pair. Has anyone else observed this behaviour ?12th May 2017 at 11:50 pm #6338
Sounds a lovely place for hedgehogs.
And, yes, that sounds like what I and many other people call the courtship ‘dance’. They can sometimes go on circling for hours. The male circles around the female. She sort of goes backwards and turns around at the same time, if that makes sense! So that he doesn’t reach the back of her. It is usually her that does the huffing. Sometimes this comes to nothing and one or other of them will just walk off. If the passing hog was a less dominant hog, he would probably not want to be noticed, for fear that the other hog might leave the ‘dance’ and come and biff him, which is not uncommon, here.
Hogmeister. I had to laugh at the thought of mythical hogs roaming in imaginary banana plantations munching on banana based recipes!
Your garden sounds a much more friendly place for a hog to be. Sounds like just what they would like. Ideal recipe for ‘happy hogs’!
I like to watch their different behaviours too. There is a timid one here as well – one of last year’s hoglets. He creeps along very low to the ground and makes himself ve-ery long. The other night he was eating contentedly when a very large male turned up and started eating – a minute later another hog turned up closely followed by the boss hog, who promptly biffed the large male, but the other hog was behind him so basically, boss hog was pushing two hogs along at once. Then he managed to get his nose under the large male and flipped him right over the top of the other hog! The large male is actually bigger than boss hog. The little timid chap was a bit bemused by all this, but just stood there, luckily for him out of the way. I was watching at the time, but it wasn’t until I saw the video that I realised what had actually happened – it was all so quick. Boss hog must be one strong hog!13th May 2017 at 12:36 pm #6341
Glad I put a smile on your face about hogs roaming in their surreal banana utopia.
Well my hog count is now up to 3 so you were right others must be being drawn in by the first ones scent so thanks for that top tip.
I also saw my first hog fight of the year last night. i was watching a hog having a drink of water when it stopped suddenly, looked up quite intensely and I knew what was probably coming next as I have seen this behaviour before. Out of the gloom the large bruiser male, the one I saw first this year and who has previous from last year, came running forth like something possessed and literally knock this smaller male flying causing it to roll in to a ball. The large male then proceeded to play football on my patio with the smaller male until it got it pinned up against the back of the house and a shrub and continued to head butt it for quite a while. It then went off and ate and drunk coming back every so often to give the rolled up hog more head butts. I also noticed it backed in to the rolled up hog and kept nudging it – I saw this last year and wondered if it was doing some sort of scent marking on the other hog? Eventually the large male wandered off and the smaller male unrolled and seemed perfectly fine so I threw out some more hog biscuits which were gratefully snuffled up (I also realised it was now way past midnight and this whole thing had been going on for an hour – time flies when your having fun!).
When I saw this hog fighting for the first time last year, and at the risk of sounding a bit melodramatic but I didn’t know it was so violent, I found it very distressing as the 2 hogs were both going at it hammer and tong before one eventually gave in and rolled up in a ball. They were literally bashing in to the patio tables and chairs and at one point one hog flipped the other as you mention above who totally lost its footing and got a right bashing as a result. I was very concerned about them both getting badly injured but I saw this happen quite a few more times over the coming days and weeks and all hogs seem relatively unscathed.
I guess it looks more dramatic than it is and they must be pretty tough cookies as a whole but I also guess they sometimes do get injured but its probably mostly their pride thankfully!13th May 2017 at 5:07 pm #6345
I have been feeding my lot (5 city hogs) with spike insect crumble at least once a week as a treat usually give them cat food mixed with moist spike and a few crushed peanuts, they always drink a full dish of water too every night – the crumble contains loads of insects and goes down a treat – last night I had 653 pics on my camera with comings and goings they are really active at the moment all the way through the night – one of the best pictures had the fox standing next to a hog both eating from the plate – I have come to the conclusion I am running a shelter for all the creatures around here now and hoping my hog numbers will increase shortly as the “dancing” has already been displayed on several occasions – happy days!! I think the main reason they visit every night and multiple times is I’m the only one who feeds them so the only suplimentary food on the close! My neighbours couldn’t believe it when I told them all.13th May 2017 at 7:59 pm #6346
It’s funny Bernie how people don’t realise what goes on in their gardens. They do gardening have lovely flower beds, love the birds flying by but don’t realise what goes on right under their noses.
We moved here 3 years ago and since moving in we’ve put a lot of work into making our garden beautiful and wildlife friendly. We didn’t bring the wildlife with us when we moved it was here already! Once the neighbours saw what was coming they were amazed and now really enjoy watching them with us. We have feeders near their windows so they can watch the birds and squirrels and have regular updates on the hogs, frog, newts etc… It pays to talk to your neighbours about what you see, they will then hopefully do things to encourage wildlife themselves. It doesn’t have to be anything big – a bird feeder, a bowl of water, a log pile or leaf pile better still both, a mini pond, bird box. We can all link together to make a wildlife super highway network.
Love the fox and hoggy dining together, your place sounds amazing. Unfortunately we have the neighbours cats and hoggy feeding together (but only if the hoggys let them).13th May 2017 at 8:17 pm #6348
The first time I saw hog biffing I was worried too. In those days I used to watch the hogs from upstairs and didn’t know who the individuals were. It was a bit like watching a play – enter stage right, exit stage left, etc. But there was one or possibly more very aggressive male/s. I called him/them Bruiser and I sometimes thought he looked as if he was trying to kill the other hog. But, as you say, they are very resilient and the hog always walked away apparently unharmed. I thought this biffing was aggressive enough, but this year I have seen one or two full blown fights, when the second hog refused to roll up and decided to fight back. These looked really scarey with the hogs shaking each other like terriers with rats. At that time it was all males around, the females hadn’t reappeared, so I can only assume, they were making a bid to move up the ‘pecking order’.
I noticed under the feeding topic you were thinking of trying suet grains. I’m not at all sure whether they are good for hedgehogs or not. They are not designed for them, but for birds and I have not seen them recommended, officially, for hedgehogs anywhere and would not want to risk it. At the risk of repeating myself, again, I would stick to hedgehog food, which should have been scientifically designed to provide hedgehogs with the correct nutritional balance. That way we shouldn’t go wrong.
Bernie – sounds like you are doing a good job there. Just be aware, that, although it is probably not common, foxes have been known to kill hedgehogs, so I would not encourage them to eat together.
Good to hear you have had some ‘dancing’ going on there. Hopefully good for the hedgehog population, but maybe not so good for all the plants they flatten in the process! Still it’s worth it if hoglets are the eventual outcome.14th May 2017 at 2:58 pm #6360
Interestingly three hogs and two foxes last night all eating at the plate in sittings but hogs with fox and then hogs with other fox – I am putting a spare plate out for the foxes on advice above further down the garden now just outside the night light area as they are a bits kitty but we all know the garden brood have no table manners or understanding of seating plans so it won’t work out perfectly. We will see – they all seem to behave one of my cats was out late last night I was waiting for him to come in – I like my boys in bed at night to give the night brood time to eat – and I saw him sitting with one of the foxes as nice as you like – I think as the garden is very calm and a bit overgrown but with plenty of resources they all try and get along so they can access it – got the cat in and left two hogs “dancing” and doing there thing – switched the back light off to give them some privacy – roll on baby hogs!14th May 2017 at 3:00 pm #6361
Your garden sounds beautiful 👍15th May 2017 at 1:53 pm #6370
The foxes may be alright. But you can never totally trust a wild predator. I can see that it might not always be possible to keep them apart. I usually feed the hogs here in small individual bowls and they still sometimes try to share! And sometimes more than two even when there is another bowl full of food not far away!
Good to hear there has been ‘dancing’ going on there too. Looking good for a bumper lot of hoglets again this year.
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