How do hedgehogs mate? Carefully, as the old joke goes. Last night I didn’t quite get to witness mating, but did get to watch hedgehog courtship at close quarters.
Just before I went to bed last night, I went down to the patio door to see if there were any hedgehogs about. It was still quite light, so I wasn’t expecting one, but there, snuffling round just the other side of the door, was a small hedgehog (trying to hoover up any mealworms Reproachful Robin had dropped from the feeder attached to the door).
Please to see one so close (separated only by the doubleglazing), I glanced round the garden and saw another, larger hedgehog approaching. He clearly was not after the mealworms.
What ensued was a protracted courtship. He circled her, trying to get her, occasionally rubbing the side of his snout against the ground (do they have scent glands there?). She, equally determined, snorted regularly and turned round on the spot to make sure he never got behind her.
Occasionally he would change direction, and try another angle of approach. When she moved away from the door, so her back was no longer protected by it, I thought she might be softening towards him. But the circuits continued. From time to time she would seem to get annoyed with him, and charge him. But then the dance continued.
It was fantastic seeing such an intimate moment at such close quarters. But after 45 minutes of this, tiredness won and I headed up to bed. So I’ve no idea how it ended. Let’s hope we have little hoglets visiting the garden soon!
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a hedgehog in my garden. I know they’re there – they eat the food we put out for them each night. But with the long days and lots of travelling recently, I just haven’t seen them. So I was delighted last night when, just before going to bed I had one last look into the garden. Not only was there a hedgehog; there were two!
One was quite big, and the other one much smaller. At first Dr C thought they were both interested in the food, which would be unusual as they don’t tend to like sharing food bowls – they’re not the most sociable of animals. But it soon became clear at least one of the hedgehogs had other things on his mind. The old joke sprang to mind: How do hedgehogs mate? Carefully!
The bigger one (the male) circled the smaller, female, hedgehog for quite a while. She was careful not to let him get behind her – I’m not sure she fancied him, even though he looked very handsome to me. This continued for a while, until a helicopter flew over head and the female decided she’d had enough, and scurried off. The male soon followed, so I don’t know if he did eventually manage to seduce her, or whether she gave him the slip.
Anyway, it was lovely to see hedgehogs again. I did try to capture some footage on my phone, but it was too dark. So you’ll just have to imagine it instead. Hopefully we’ll see some hoglets in due course (although whether this particular couple will have young, I don’t know…) My one consolation for the nights getting longer is it becomes easier to watch the hedgehogs.