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The X Files Cont'd…

Home Forums Hedgehog tales The X Files Cont'd…

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)
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    A few of us have long suspected that the humble hedgehog has advanced powers beyond our comprehension. I am sure that most of you have witnessed their uncanny ability to vanish into thin air, or the mobile food bowl that transports its way half way across the patio (in our case also up a step and steep hill with biscuits still in situ!) but, the camera mysteriously malfunctions recording nothing of the strange goings on. Harry Potter style invisibility cloaks, transporter beams, teleportation, warp drives and now cyber warfare are just some of the theories in circulation…oh yes and telepathy. Why is it, whenever you decide to sit and wait for them to show up, camera at the ready, they almost never do. You know that they have been turning up at the same time for the last few evenings whilst there’s still a bit of daylight, but the minute you have a camera to hand, they don’t put in an appearance until long after you’ve gone to bed!

    Well, one of the cameras has at last captured a short clip of their clandestine activities and I have to say that it’s very disturbing indeed, more paranormal than technological. The cameras often record all sorts of flying insects, but I have never seen anything like this before…any ideas?

    Meanwhile, our rescue hog from last year, Nagini and only female it seems, has gone AWOL. She is normally captured on camera every night, but she hasn’t been seen now since the 18th June. I just hope to goodness that she is busy raising hoglets and that she hasn’t come to any misfortune.

    Then there’s the rat! For the first time in three years one of the cameras recorded a damn rat. I suppose it was inevitable that one would eventually show up and I have to say that I have never been more relieved to see one of the neighbour’s cats patrolling the patio, hot on its trail. Wouldn’t want to be in my neighbour’s shoes though, if that’s what he drags through the cat flap…Urghhhh!

    And here’s a snippet of the boys activity from last night…surprisingly the Royal Albert is still intact!

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    Hi Penny

    I’ve had mysterious blobs here as well. Sometimes they lurk behind bushes and go up and down but very slowly as if they are working out the lay of the land – mini aliens? Or perhaps the hogs have developed their own mini drones to spy on us!

    You’ve got a noisy lot of hogs there! I hope Nagini is off having hoglets. I was hoping Digger was, but the last few nights she has been having long huffing sessions so don’t think she can have been. Unless, of course, she has already had one lot – I keep seeing signs of what looks like hoglets but no actual hoglets. Why should I be surprised!


    Hi Penny,

    I do enjoy your clips – your hogs are quite characters. Its obvious these little fellas don’t realise how precious they are – the way they go about pushing each other around is quite ferocious – its that mixture of concern and humour as you watch their determination. It only takes one bossy hog and the antics become very entertaining!
    I very much hope (and suspect) that Nagini has disappeared to have a brood and raise them. How lovely if she brings them for food and a visit giving you a chance to see them, or even know they are around.


    Hi Nic, Jan-Marie,

    I like the idea (I think) of ‘mini aliens’, we always assume that if they are out there, that they would be a similar size to ourselves, but why not miniature.
    Whilst we are on the subject of miniature, I see that you have spotted miniature parcels lying around Jan-Marie, hopefully you will get a glimpse of the hoglets very soon. Nagini’s mother kept them well hidden last year and it was only because Nagini was poorly that a neighbour found her out in the heat of the day. The cameras didn’t pick up her siblings until they were quite large, even though there was plenty of evidence that they were around.

    Many years ago, we were on a canal walk miles from anywhere, when we spotted a mother and her three hoglets tagging along behind. It was a hot summer’s day and we had no idea at the time that they shouldn’t have been out during the hours of daylight or that they might have been thirsty and trying to get to the water in the canal…Eeek! If only I knew then what I know now and what a rare privilege it was to see them.

    Any signs of any more females yet Nic or is the next generation of hoglets still all down to Digger?

    The bossy hog, who is indeed the ‘boss’ for now, is quite manic and is primed to attack anything that moves, even Nagini has been singled out for a biffing on occasion, before he realised the error of his ways that is.

    We might not have any hoglets yet, but we certainly have young squirrels. Five of the young hooligans have managed to completely destroy three bird feeders in just over a week…so much for their own feeder! Very cute though.


    ah – so Nagini is a youngster herself then. I have read that the females don’t breed until their second year? If that is the case then it could be a significant factor to consider for number decline. I wonder whether also – the hoglet sex is influenced by environmental / external factors, such as food types and weather or viruses, mothers health etc? If we have a declining number of females and they arent ready to breed successfully until year two, it wouldnt look like a healthy prospect. there could be things we could target to change if we understood it more. they are quite complex creatures and we need to understand it more quickly so we can help change the dynamics for them.
    Your bird feeders look like ours – on the ground with a squirrel breaking the base or top off, even though they have their own feeding station, albeit with the odd pigeon stuck in it upside down trying to get the last nut from the bottom!

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    Those squirrels are so cute, Penny. I have had a couple of females visit. One the returner after about 9 months absence. She was very thin when she turned up but is now looking a more normal shape again, despite being covered in who knows what. Also a couple of times another female who I think was one of the overwintered hoglets from 2016. She was very timid. Despite the appearance of mini-poos I can’t really work out who of these could have had hoglets. It may be that the other female from 2016 has been visiting late at night and using her invisibility cloak to good effect and she has hoglets.

    I’m not sure there is much to we could do, Jan Marie, to intervene with hogs breeding or even if we should. I think the main problem for hog populations is lack of suitable habitat, so their population is probably, to some extent, self regulating to that. There is still so much work that needs to be done in that respect. I think it is known that they are not terribly good at breeding though. They certainly waste a great deal of time and energy during their courtships! Also, I have often wondered whether over-wintering late hoglets could become a self perpetuating thing. With the late hoglets not maturing till later and so having later hogs themselves, etc. Although there is some thought that some hogs kept in captivity may mature earlier, so maybe it balances out. I haven’t ever seen the results of the survey they were doing last year around that sort of thing.


    I would love to see our pigeons try something similar Jan-Marie, but they are more like couch potatoes, they just wobble around under the bird feeders waiting for the food to come to them.

    That’s good news Nic, but it’s still very worrying that there seems to be so few females around. Hoglet numbers were well down last year and this year I only know of two females at the most, compared to around eight to ten males. They are such secretive animals and there is still so much that we just don’t know. Nagini’s mother was herself an autumn juvenile from the previous year, who managed to survive the winter despite having roundworm and lungworm. She was taken to our local rescue for treatment, where she rapidly gained weight, so fearing the imminent arrival of hoglets, was returned home A.S.A.P. Sure enough, soon after, around this time last year she disappeared for a week and then started turning up during daylight, something which she never ever did, she was an expert at avoiding me and the cameras. All the evidence pointed to her being the mother and the hoglets were indeed her spitting image, she had unusually long legs and a long narrow body with a very dark nose and dark ears. That being the case, she would only have been around ten months old when she gave birth. The only other female around at that time was a totally different colour and shape. She didn’t hibernate for very long, so maybe that made a difference. Sadly she hasn’t been spotted since last August, but I like to think that she could just be avoiding the cameras or wearing one of those invisibility cloaks.


    Good grief, Penny, your lot are violent! It’s always peace and tranquility in my garden, no biffing, no stand-offs, they just all get along fine! Mine just don’t do violence but it’s obviously not because they’re too ‘sweet’, they are definitely intent on destroying western civilisation.

    Just like yourself, after 4 years of HogCam in my garden it finally picked up it’s first rat. Not impressed at all.

    Oh, and we have a hoglet! It has already developed camera avoidance skills and is being thoroughly annoying in that respect. I shall get it.

    Meanwhile, herewith Loretta on her traditional early evening scoffing session- always the first to arrive is Loretta. She doesn’t like blackbirds, at all, they seem to scare the pants off her!


    Hi William,

    The boys round here are constantly brawling, I can’t work out whether it’s just frustration at the lack of females in the vicinity or whether they are in training for some kind of military assault. I am certainly keeping a watchful eye on the garden implements, goodness only knows what would happen if they got their hands on the lawn aerator…ouch!

    Having said that, I am very worried about the spiky little devils. They have either been deployed on a mission or there is something even more sinister going on. There has still been no sign of Nagini for nearly a month now and only a couple of days after she went missing, a large, very well fed badger was spotted dead at the side of the road on the way into the village. This is the first badger in over twenty years that I have seen near the village and a very worrying development indeed. I don’t know if it is just coincidence, but numbers visiting have fallen significantly since, down from around ten to just two or three. 🙁 I suppose it could have something to do with the uncharacteristically hot weather or it could be that our next door neighbour is also feeding them now; I know that others on the forum have also reported reduced numbers, so I am trying to stay optimistic.

    Thankfully there have been no more sightings of the rat, but that could be down to our new resident raptor, which I believe to be a female tawny owl. Every night for the last week its call has been recorded on the trail cameras, although I can’t imagine any potential meal hanging around for long with all that squawking overhead – I thought they were supposed to be silent hunters! I have read that they do occasionally take hedgehogs, so that could be another reason why they are making themselves scarce.

    Glad to hear that you’ve got some hoglets, I have found the odd miniature parcel here and there, so maybe ours too have learned to evade the cameras and hopefully some sharp talons!

    I have put together a few clips with the mystery noises in the background. Like I say, I think it is a female tawny owl and another can sometimes be heard answering its calls. Whatever it is, it definitely hangs out high up in the sycamore tree…


    Well, the mystery of the strange noises in the videos has been solved. An expert has confirmed that it is indeed a young tawny owl begging for food and could help to explain why the hogs have been keeping out of the way.

    After a rapid decline in hedgehog numbers over recent weeks, which coincided with the sighting of a dead badger close by – when I didn’t believe there were any – I started to suspect the worst and that we had a psychopathic badger stalking the streets of the village, picking them off one by one. All week I have been playing amateur detective frantically trying to solve the mystery, looking for hedgehog husks whilst out walking and getting up at 5.00am to check the cameras for any activity. Three cameras have been out covering all the entrances/exits points and I can now reveal what the little blighters have been up to. Long before they started to go missing I had noticed a change in their behaviour; despite diligently keeping the garden watered during this dry spell to keep them in the luxury that they’ve become accustomed to, they no longer roamed the borders. Thankfully this dry weather has kept the slugs in check, which is just as well because the hogs just haven’t been doing their job. Oh no, the cameras have revealed that they enter the garden, head straight for the cat biscuits and leave again after only 10 minutes. The three hogs that do still visit look very well fed, but they just don’t seem that hungry. Another thing I had noticed just before most of them went AWOL, is that their deposits had a shiny black, iridescent appearance, no doubt the remains of their favourite insects, shiny black beetles.

    So, here are the conclusions that I have reached so far:

    • Despite the prolonged dry spell, I believe that there is plenty of their natural food around so they are really not that hungry.

    • Many females will be busy looking after hoglets and so the males may be roaming further afield.

    • If they are only spending 10 minutes in the garden, it is unlikely that just one camera would pick them up and like Nic says, most of them are not that reliable.

    • The new out of town shopping centre masquerading as a garden centre, which has recently opened very close by, sells an array of hoggy related accommodation and gourmet delights to tempt them elsewhere.

    • They are keeping a low profile due to a young family of young tawny owls overhead.

    • We may have a psychopathic badger roaming the streets, but so far some of them have managed to escape!

    There are no such mysteries as far as the squirrels are concerned. Several bird feeders later and after much frustration and tinkering we have finally put a stop to their mindless vandalism (for now), they have finally decided that it is much easier to access the nuts in their own feeder.

    The entrance to wood mouse HQ is now so large – thanks to all the felines trying to dig their way in! – that one of the young squirrels nearly vanished down it yesterday trying to steal their stash of seeds.

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    Hi Penny

    Glad to hear you have solved the mystery. I think you are right and that although there aren’t many earthworms around, there are still beetles, especially in gardens that have provided good homes for them. There are certainly an abundance of flying insects! They seem to be relishing this weather and hogs do apparently eat caterpillars as well. The water is the really important thing, being so hard to find.

    I only seem to have two hogs at the moment who I can rely on to any extent. A small one, who has me a bit puzzled. He seems big for this year’s hoglets but too small for last years. I am leaning towards thinking he is a really early this year’s hoglet. The poor little chap has fairly recently been excessively marked and is now spending a lot of time here. He doesn’t seem to have an invisibility cloak and I am getting more than 100 videos of him some nights! The other night he approached Digger from the rear and gave her a biff! Only a fairly gentle one – he isn’t very big – but even so! She turned round with her best Queen Victoria ‘we are not amused’ expression, but no more. Very tolerant!


    I think my hogs are getting fussy! They were starting to leave about half of their ark wildlife hedgehog biscuits so, for a change, I bought some I love hedgehogs ‘muesli’ it seems to have lots of nuts and dried insects in it and they are scoffing the lot! Maybe I should put out a menu rota so they can decide which days to visit, depending on the food on offer! Still nothing in my hog house and no hoglets either but I do have at least 2 regular visitors – different sizes so I can tell them apart – and I am happy with these!


    Hi Nic, DwarfHog,

    I had wondered whether our lot had suddenly gone off their favourite biscuits, so last night I put out some wet Spikes. The ants, slugs and blue bottles thought that all their birthdays had come at once, but unsurprisingly the hogs turned their noses up. The ‘I love Hedgehogs’ muesli sounds like a winner; I think I may have seen it in the shopping, err garden centre, so I might just give it a go. I had started warming to the new enterprise, despite it being laid out like Ikea, forcing you to walk past the houseplants, the home wares, the clothes, the food hall and the restaurants etc, etc, before you come across anything remotely to do with gardening, It does cater for all manner of wildlife. It has an entire row dedicated to hedgehogs, several for birds and even homes for frogs. I was even more impressed by a whole row of natural, organic slug repellents. Feeling a bit happier about the whole operation, I started making my way over to the tills, only to be confronted with a huge display of discounted toxic slug pellets!!! What a great idea, encourage people to attract wildlife into their gardens and then provide them with the means with which to poison them all at a discounted price…Arghhhh! 🙁

    Sorry to hear about your small graffitied hog Nic, I have stopped trying to identify ours anymore, that way I don’t worry too much if they go AWOL. Unless it’s done as part of a proper scientific study, or to keep an eye on newly released rescue hogs, I really don’t see the point. I was horrified the other day when I came across a wildlife website that was suggesting shaving their spines in places as well as marking them with paint…what on earth are they thinking!!!

    Glad that Digger is still around, I do wish Nagini would put in an appearance, but it’s been over a month now so I am starting to fear the worst. 🙁

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    Hi Penny

    What on earth wildlife website has suggested that? That’s a disgrace! Why does anyone need to mark them at all, unless, as you say, it’s part of a scientific study. I believe any interaction with hedgehogs at all should only be if it is for the benefit of that particular hog or for the benefit of hedgehogs’ as a whole. Also, marking of any kind should only be done if a licence has been obtained.

    The female hog who returned after an 8 months absence has been missing again for about a month. Like you with Nagini, I keep hoping she comes back. I think maybe if she had hoglets, she may not come back until they are independent, otherwise they may follow her. The thing is, with new people beginning to feed hogs all the time, it maybe that there is someone nearer feeding. I just hope they are all feeding something decent.

    I think there is a lot to be said for not recognising individual hogs. I have often thought of it myself, but at the moment don’t seem to be able to stop myself from recognising certain hogs. It does just make it very sad, though, when one you know well suddenly turns up defaced.

    Fingers crossed that both females, from there and here, return soon.

    P.S. I discovered, earlier, a hog asleep in the feed box – suspect it’s the little one as he was on video a bit later than usual this morning.


    Hi Nic,

    What a lovely surprise finding the little one in the feed box, I hope you got a photo. We had a bit of rain last night and the gastropods were out in force, including the small black slugs which the hogs love, but they completely ignored them, they just don’t seem hungry.

    I’m not quite sure how I came across the website and it took me a while to find it again, but it was a piece by Twycross zoo on marking hedgehogs and makes for some grim reading. It even suggests anaesthetising the hedgehogs in order to clip their spines and putting tags in their ears! I would put the link on here, but I don’t want anyone to get any ideas, I wonder what the BHPS would make of it? Also, whilst I was trying to find it again, I came across an interesting video on Youtube. A pygmy hedgehog had had hoglets and the owner had marked them all with paint in order to identify them including the mother. The mother started licking at it frantically and self anointing. Some of it would have been ingested, so it just goes to show what harm marking them with toxic substances can potentially do!

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