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What are the marks?

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings What are the marks?

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    Have several hedgehogs visiting my garden and last night one arrived with white marks on it like paint? I’m hoping it’s just got it off freshly painted fences although in the immediate vicinity none of my neighbours have painted. Hoping it’s not disease, or someone has deliberately marked it?? Why??


    Some people do mark hedgehogs so that they can recognise them. It’s really not a good idea and such people should receive 30 lashes.


    Yar I agree, such imbeciles deserve to be hung drawn and quartered. Maybe.. However I really need to find out if there is such a condition hedgehogs have that looks like white paint or if it is indeed the workmanship of these silly individuals.
    Just taken a pic ( don’t know how to attach sorry) and this hedgehog too has these marks on but its a different pattern?? Fuddly confused. Opinions glady welcomed.

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    Hi Spikeytrotter

    It sounds very likely that the hedgehogs have been artificially marked, especially if the patterns are different.

    You can link images or video to here, if they are already somewhere else on the internet. Otherwise, the fastest way I can think of to get an image on here, is to temporarily change your profile pic.

    Unfortunately there seem to be quite a lot of marked hogs around these days. Personally I think it is unnecessary and unkind to the hogs and with some of the more excessive markings, even cruelty. Depending on how these people are catching the hedgehogs, they may be breaking the law. If someone is catching a hedgehog for it’s own benefit – for instance if it is unwell – they could be forgiven, but if it is for someone’s own convenience, that is another matter. My feeling is that we should not interfere with the hedehogs unless it is for the benefit of that hedgehog or hedgehogs in general (i.e. properly organised scientific study which requires a licence).

    If anyone wants to identify individual hedgehogs it is easily possible by their own natural markings. (I can give you a link to some tips, if you’re interested). In my opinion, if anyone can’t devote the time to identify hedgehogs naturally, then they will not be devoting sufficient time to justify marking hedgehogs.


    Could it be self anointing? I had a large hedgehog appear with a white stripe which the next night was slightly different mark. Seems a common question on a gardening forum I am on also. People reporting of hedgehogs with whiteish patches or marks. I did a bit of googling and that seemed a plausible suggestion 🙂

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    Hi Speedy123

    I would suggest that it was either a different hedgehog or the person marking had used water based substance (the only potentially good thing about it) and it had rained or partially washed off somehow.

    Whilst it is possible on a very few occasions, that someone could be seeing marks that were caused by self annointing, the marks would not persist in the same way as when someone has artificially marked the hedgehogs. Self annointing in just frothy saliva. Also, I don’t think, even hedgehogs, are clever enough to do x’s and other symbols (which some people are finding), whilst self annointing.

    However much most of us probably don’t like the thought of it being done to a hedgehog, which of course does not belong to any of us, sadly, there are people out there who are purposely excessively marking hedgehogs.

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    Hi Spikeytrotter

    I’ve just noticed your profile pic and it does look to me as if someone has artificially marked the hog. Whilst an unnecessarily large amount of substance has been used, it is not as bad as many I’ve seen. Hopefully, it will have been water based substance and will eventually wear/wash off. Then, hopefully, whoever did it won’t do it again. I have seen poor hogs who have been re-marked in different places, which leads me to wonder whether the people doing it actually realise it is the same hedgehog or whether they are adding it to their tally as another one.

    Hedgehogs can travel 1-2 miles in a night, so that it may not be anyone very near who is doing the marking.

    Good luck with the hedgehogs. I hope you continue to get visitors until hibernation.


    I’ve accepted hedgehogs from a local hedgehog rescue group for release into my garden.

    These have been discreetly marked whilst in care (and micro-chipped before release). I assume to keep track of who is who, and therefore which medicine they are on etc., and post-release if they present with further problems what their treatment history has been (also revealing that they do seem to hang around the release site).

    (Recently my daughter came across a hedgehog near to her which was in a bad way and which I took straight to the rescue group. Instantly they knew her as ‘one of theirs’ thanks to the marking. (Unfortunately she had to be PTS, probably involved in a RTA)).

    So, if you spot marked hogs, these may very well be ones released back into the ‘wild’ following a spell of treatment.


    Many thanks for your reply and information on this. My new profile pic shows the other hedgey with different white on it. the marks are fading with each evening so il keep checking if they get remarked in the future. Thanks!

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    Hi Leon

    I have heard that some, but not all, rescue groups discreetly mark hedgehogs to allow releasers to initially check on the releasees. This is very different from the excessive marking which has become a problem. I think it is highly unlikely that rescue places would be so irresponsible as to use excessively large amounts of substance. Hopefully, also they would only use water based substance, which I fear is not always the case elsewhere.

    Whilst there is, perhaps, more justification in that instance to mark the hedgehogs, I question the necessity. Who is the marking ultimately for, the hedgehog or the people who want to satisfy their curiosity by following it. What can anyone do if the hedgehog disappears into someone else’s garden anyway? If, as you say, the hedgehogs you refer to have been micro-chipped, I don’t see the need for them to be marked as well. Bearing in mind that other members of the public mark hogs as well, just because it is marked, wouldn’t necessarily mean it was a former rescue hog. The useful information is not from any marking there may be, but from the micro-chip.

    I would hope that any hedgehog lovers would help any hedgehog that they found to be in trouble and not just because one had a mark on it. If it then had a micro-chip and was taken to the place it came from, they would immediately know it came from there, because of that. It could then be checked what medication, etc. it had received. But it is the micro-chip which would provide the information, not any artificial marking.

    Having said all that, I repeat again that it is the excessive marking which is the real problem. Most people wouldn’t mind quite so much if the hedgehogs were only marked carefully on a few spines with water-based paint.

    Personally, I would only think it acceptable to mark a hedgehog if it was as part of a properly thought out and organised scientific study, for which a licence has been obtained. In that instance the marking would, I would hope, be for the benefit of either a particular hedgehog or for hedgehogs as a whole. That is always my criteria for interacting with a hedgehog at all.

    BHPS make the following comments with regard to marking:

    {“We’re pretty sure a hedgehog would rather not be marked, but if you are going to do it, please do ensure that you use a non-toxic water-based marker and mark just a few spines of the hedgehog. Keep the mark away from the hedgehog’s face and mark it in the garden on the ground rather than picking it up/bringing it indoors. Please don’t use red as people may mistake it for blood and ‘rescue’ it.  Do not make hedgehog conspicuous to predators.  We have seen some very sad images of poor hedgehogs practically covered in paint!  If you are watching the hedgehogs on a wildlife camera you will often be able to tell them apart over time without the need for marking.”}

    I was sorry to hear that the hedgehog your daughter found did not have a good outcome. I hope your other visitors have better luck.


    Interesting call to my nearest wildlife rescue last week. I rang to discuss a new very small hedgehog visitor to my garden of whom I have called Gary of which I was concerned about his size. The nearest rescue to me is 30 miles away. Anyway….we were chatting and my address details came up. The lady I spoke to proceeded to ask me if I was near a railway station of which I am in 10 minutes walk of. She then said the rescue centre released 6 pairs of hedgehogs in early June tgat they had over wintered. I started getting visitors end of June. She said their rescues are identifiable by a white line mark they put on. Line down the side for males and acoss the bum for females. Two of our five seem to have these marks. 🙂

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    If rescues are marking hoglets with that amount of substance, then I think that is irresponsible. Not only does it serve little purpose when other people are marking as well, anyway (so it doesn’t provide any proof) but it doesn’t follow BHPS’s advice, which is:
    {“We’re pretty sure a hedgehog would rather not be marked, but if you are going to do it, please do ensure that you use a non-toxic water-based marker and mark just a few spines of the hedgehog. …”}
    Marking a few spines would serve the purpose just as well. In one place for males and another for females, although I would think it would be better if it was a few spines on top of the hog so that it was less likely in ingest any substance.
    If the marks are still persisting, since June, it seems unlikely that water based substance was used (which, if marking is done at all, it should be).

    Again, the question arises – whose benefit is it for, humans or hogs?

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