Hedgehog Noises and What They Mean

For such little animals, hedgehogs can make one heck of a racket! And like the very worst noisy neighbours, they generally get started in the garden at night. When you are tucked up in bed, trying to get some sleep.

A Quick Guide to Hedgehog Noises:

  1. Grunting and snuffling, like a pig = hedgehog out and about, looking for food.
  2. Chuffing like a steam train = mating season.
  3. Chirping like a baby bird = hungry hoglets in the nest.
  4. Screaming Hedgehog = in pain and distress.
  5. Hissing Hedgehog = warning sign – keep away!
  6. Clicking and “popping” Hedgehog = challenge, often to other males in mating season.

Do You Speak Hedgehog?

If you’ve set up a hedgehog nesting house or feeding station in your garden and you’re lucky enough to get visitors then you’re more than likely to start hearing some hedgehog noises.

Your local hedgehog can make a whole range of different noises.  Anything from a sound like a baby bird to a steam train, depending on what mood she’s in. Some of the noises they make can be quite alarming until you know what they are.

Once you understand what hedgehog noises mean you will know when they need help, when they are perfectly happy, and when they are furious.

So let’s learn some Hedgehog language. Here’s our rundown of the top 12 hedgehog noises you may hear in your garden and what they all mean.

12 Hedgehog Noises and What They Mean.

1. Grunting Like a Pig

This is the basic hedgehog noise which gets them the “hog” part of their name.

It’s the noise that hedgehogs make when they’re out and about, busy searching for food at night.

Though the noise can be surprisingly loud, a grunting, snuffling hog is perfectly happy and should be left to go about her business.

2. Chuffing Like a Steam Train

You will hear this chuffing noise in your garden in May and June during the hedgehog mating season.

Your local hedgehog can make a whole range of different noises.  Anything from a sound like a baby bird to a steam train, Click To Tweet

The call is mainly made by the female as the male circles her.  It sounds very much as though she’s trying to put him off!

The noise really does sound just like a miniature chuffing steam train. It’s quite distinctive and you will easily recognise it.

3. Chirping Like a Baby Bird

It would be very easy to mistake this noise for the call of baby birds, especially as It happens at around the same time of year as garden bird chicks are hatching.

It’s actually the sound of happy baby hoglets in the nest calling for food.

4. Coughing Hedgehog

Coughing is not a good sign for a hedgehog.

A dry, sharp “barking” cough probably just means the hedgehog’s nest is dirty and dusty, the hog has something stuck in its throat.

A continuous wet “chesty” cough, like a smokers cough, on the other hand, is more serious.  This could be a sign that your hog has lungworm and you should contact your local hedgehog rescue.

5. Screaming Like a Baby

If you hear a hedgehog scream you may well think the sound is coming from a very upset human baby.

This noise is only made by hogs in severe distress and pain.  The hog will be injured or maybe trapped somewhere.

If you hear this noise you should definitely investigate as the hedgehog will need your help.

6. Sneezing Hedgehog

Hedgehogs do sneeze and it’s really cute if you catch them doing it.

A hedgehog sneeze is usually just down to a tickle in the nose and nothing to worry about.  But if the sneezing is continuous, or accompanied by coughing and wheezing, then it’s something more serious, and a call to hedgehog rescue is in order.

7. Quacking Like a Duck

This is a seriously weird noise to hear coming from a hedgehog. Like screaming, it’s also a distress call. But whereas screaming indicates the hedgehog is in pain, the quacking noise is made when the problem isn’t quite so serious.

Hedgehogs might make the quacking noise if they are stuck in something. Young hedgehogs also tend to make this noise if they are hungry.

8. Hissing like a Snake

Keep your distance from a hissing hedgehog, just like you would from a hissing snake.  When a hedgehog hisses, it means he is really annoyed and wants you, other hogs or other animals to clear off.

Hedgehogs will often make the hissing noise if their nest is disturbed or if they are cornered or approached by a predator.

9. Barking or Clicking

When hedgehogs make this short sharp noise, which some people describe as a bark or a click they will also duck their heads and bob up.

The noise is a challenge, and the movement is the hedgehog attempting to head-butt its opponent and stab them with its spines.

The noise is most often heard when one male challenges another during the mating season.

But if you get on your local hogs nerves, you could find them barking/clicking at you too.  Best to withdraw to a safe distance as you certainly won’t want to be head-butted and stabbed by an angry hedgehog.

10. Gentle Snoring

Yes, hedgehogs snore! A snoring hedgehog makes quite a cute little noise, and it’s sure to make you smile if you are ever lucky enough to hear it.

The snoring sound usually means the hedgehog is peacefully asleep. But if you should hear the snoring noise whilst the hedgehog has its eyes open, it may indicate that the hog is having trouble breathing.

This could be caused by lungworm or some other respiratory problem.  So if you come across this noise in a hedgehog that’s awake, it’s best to contact your local hedgehog rescue for advice.

11. Hedgehogs Talking in Their Sleep

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to watch a hedgehog sleeping, you will see that they twitch and move their legs just like dogs do.

It seems that hedgehogs do dream.

During their dreams, hedgehogs will make the same range of noises they do whilst awake, depending on what they’re dreaming of

Noises made whilst the hedgehog is asleep are nothing to worry about and don’t need your attention.

Even a distress call whilst asleep only indicates a bad dream and the hedgehog isn’t in any danger.

12. And From the Other End!

Yes, hedgehogs do fart! And hedgehog farts sound just like you would expect a fart to sound.

Hedgehog farts can also smell really bad, especially if you have fed the hedgehog fishy cat food, This could be the reason so many hedgehog experts advise against doing this!

hedgehog noises

Know Your Hedgehog Noises and Help Your Local Hogs

If you would like to listen to some more amazing hedgehog noises check out this great blog post from Hedgehog Bottom Rescue.

British hedgehogs are in trouble and need our help.

Intensive farming, the destruction of hedgerows and the use of pesticides have led to a considerable drop in hedgehog numbers.

Understanding the sounds that hedgehogs in your garden are a great way of getting a better understanding of how you can help them, and when you should leave them alone.

For more information on how you can help hedgehogs visit:

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Hedgehog Street.

And if you spot a hedgehog in trouble, you can find your local hedgehog rescue project by clicking here.

And if you have more questions on hedgehog noises we would love to hear from you, leave us a comment below.

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51 Responses

    1. I have been feeding 5 hogs but numbers have dropped off a bit lately down to 4 the larger one
      ( I call her the mother)) has disappeared leaving 4 smaller but still a very healthy size but even those have dwindled to 2 and the food has been touched less. Last night, well now 4 o’clock in the morning I could hear noises in next door’s garden and the food I left out has not been touched should I be worried 😯. My neighbour has been doing extensive clearing of the garden having not been touched for a couple of years (looks better I suppose) is it likely the hogs are going to be hibernating now 1st October.

      1. Hi Baz,

        This sounds perfectly normal. Hedgehogs are naturally solitary creatures. They spend just a few weeks in the nest and with the mother and their siblings. Then they will gradually wander off each on their own. And as you say, it will be time to hibernate soon.
        Do you have nesting boxes in your garden?
        Clare

      2. I’ve had two hedgehogs resident in my celler since last October. I put them out in April but they came back. I finally put them out again two days ago. Tonight I found one of them making a curling noise like a bird in distress. Do adults sometimes make this noise, there are no signs of any hoglets

  1. Clare,

    This has been fantastically useful. I have a couple of hogs in my garden and have heard some odd noises. Now I understand a little more of what’s going on… and it’s all good I’m pleased to say. Thank you so much. A great article.

    Kind regards
    V. Dorset

  2. I found your very informative website this morning by Googling: snuffling like a steam engine.
    Just last night in Gloucestershire we saw and heard this behaviour by two hedgehogs in our garden. It has a messy corner to give them refuge.
    …and I put out a shallow tray of water before I left them to their mating in peace.
    Thanks.

  3. Hi I just had two hedgehogs in my garden . Larger one was circling smaller one and pushing its nose to the other one which was backing up . One of them was making a periodic short braying noise lasting a second, It sounded like a “meh” . None of the noises above match the noise I heard. Any ideas what this is?
    Larger one left. Smaller one stayed, then after a couple of minutes, left in the opposite direction

    1. Hi Fred,

      This sounds like aggressive/territorial behaviour to me. Very unusual, but not unknown.
      Have you seen either of them since?

  4. Early this morning I saw a hedgehog being attacked by a skunk – really!! The skunk soon disappeared and the hedgehog was screaming like a baby in pain. I couldn’t see any blood or damage as he was curled up tightly.
    I’ve put him in a large pet box with a dish of water – he’s quiet now. Just to say thank you for your website to help me help him otherwise I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do. I’m keeping an eye on him until he starts moving and plan to release him into my garden to get fat on the snails for a while. When he finds the gap in the fence he’ll be on his own again. Many thanks.

  5. Thanks for the useful info. I were just listening to a rather noisy hedgehog making a different noise to when they are enjoying the food I put out for them so wanting to check it wasn’t a noise that meant the hedgehog felt it was in danger. From listening to the videos it seemed to be a mating call although seems a tad late in the year for that. I didn’t know I had a hedgehog visiting until 1 of my dogs tried to pick something up to bring inside & when I put a torch on I saw it was a hedgehog! Since then the dogs are let out for the last time before it gets dark. I have been putting food out for the hedgehog & then a few nights ago were watching my hedgehog when another turned up. I can sit right in the doorway & they are quite happy to eat with the bowl just down off the step so close I could touch them…I don’t though as don’t want to scare them off

    1. Hi Emma,
      This sounds amazing. We had one almost wander in though the patio doors a couple of nights ago. I think we are quite lucky. Our dog is ferocious with any cats who venture into the garden, but he doesn’t bother the hogs.
      Most hogs will have had one litter earlier in the year, but many will have another in September, so they could be mating now.
      Keep a watch out for autumn hoglets. They struggle to put on the weight they need for hibernation and may need some extra help.
      Keep us posted.
      Clare

  6. I’ve been encouraging a really cute hedgehog for a month and he now is a regular dusk visitor for his food.
    But last night he was not at his regular spot, so I waited until pit was dark before checking again.
    This time, about a yard from his feeding place, were 2 hedgehogs, who I thought was my original with a new friend, about to share supper……however there was much hissing going on… and it was hard to know what it was all about. After a couple more minutes, one scuttled off and I thought it best to leave the other alone.
    So thank you for my first lesson in hedgehog, and I now know that ‘my’ hog was telling the other to push off…. which he did.
    I suppose the only welcome jog will be a sow (?), hopefully followed by babies.
    And will they be raised on the house I’ve provided, or do they prefer their own place ? And At what time of year does mating occur?
    Nick

    1. Hi Nick,
      Sounds like its all going on in your garden! Even when your hog finds a sow, ti will only be. A one night stand. Makes don’t take much part in hoglet care!
      We have hedgehogs in our garden and a lovely hedgehog house which they totally ignore in favour of the back of our shed! so long as they are happy its fine.
      There will have been a litter earlier in the year. but many hogs will be mating again shortly and will produce a second litter in September. Keep the food going if/when these hoglets arrive and keep a close eye on them As Autumn juveniles they have very little time to put on the weight they need for hibernation and may need rescuing.
      Watch with space, we are owing to do an article on this in the next couple of week.
      Keep us posted on how yours are getting on.

      Clare

  7. I have 3 or 4 hobs visit for scattered food ever night, occasionally 5 or 6. Utterly wonderful
    Recently a large hog has been turning up making the most exraordinary purring noise. She arrives purring loudly (I can hear from indoors) & she makes the continuous noise for ages while wandering around garden/back of house.. She sounds very content, but it is nothing like the other hogs noises. She makes the noise all alone, & when other hogs are present.
    Every night theres a lot of ‘huffing’. Always when more than 1 hog is present. One hog will be feeding or moving forward, the second hog backs away in a jerky movement. The huffing noise is always made by the reversing hog.
    I’ve never seen any of the other hogs make the continuous purring noise.just lots of huffing ! Which I always thought was arguing over the food/sorting hierarchy.
    Would love to know if anyone else has come across a purring hog !
    Thanks for interesting article

    1. Hi there.

      Thanks for sharing this – sounds amazing!
      There is quite a bit about purring hedgehogs from the US, where they keep African Pygmy hogs as pets. The consensus seems to be that the noise is all about being relaxed and contented – so it sound like you have a very happy guest there!

  8. Hi we have at least three hogs in our garden. We have fairy lights all over our patio so it’s really easy to sit out and watch them.
    Tonight two of them weee making a sort of cracklings ir bubbling noise ether side of the garden Then one ran towards the other and they rolled into the flower bed and scuffled for a minute then one ran back again. All the while there was a chuffing train in another part of the garden.
    So exciting to sit and watch them so close up.

  9. Looked up Hedgehog noises as I have 2 in my garden chuffing like a steam train, looking at the description they are mating but not the right time of year, incidentally there is another about 7 feet away gobbling the food I left out for them.

    1. Hi Pete,

      They could well be mating, lots of hogs have a second litter late in the summer. the resulting hoglets, autumn juveniles, often need some help to make it through hibernation as they don’t have long to fatten up before winter.
      I’ve just written an article, will be publishing today.
      Best
      Clare

  10. A few years ago, my husband ‘watered’ the cabbage patch with fermented beer. We had been away for 3 weeks and his home brew was past its brewing time. It had been a hot summers day and that evening our dog would not settle. Letting him out into the back garden he went straight over into the cabbage patch, wagging his tail and barking. Thats when we discovered a family of inebriated hedgehogs. The noises eminating were like snores and I swear the hogs were smiling in their sleep. The cabbage leaves had acted as perfect saucers for the beer. An hour or so later they awoke from their happy slumber and crashed about bumping into each other trying to find their way to wherever.

  11. Iv got 2boxes out ,but I have put food in with them they are eating ,I’d feel bad if they were hungry ,if I didn’t feed them Ann

  12. This is a great article. Any ideas what the random short high pitched squeak would be? And would 2 Hog Houses be suitable in the same but small garden, or do Hogs make bad neighbours for each other? I ask because there are 2 Hogs in my garden, 1 slightly smaller than the other. The larger one circles the smaller one, and then the smaller one faces the larger as it circles the larger one makes a steam train sound as it circles the smaller one.

    1. Hi Jamie,

      I don’t have an answer for you on the squeaking I’m afraid, but from your description, it doesn’t sound like any sort of distress call. They are pretty vocal creatures. 2 boxes in your garden will be fine. I have 2, some people have 4 or more. They don’t like to share a house, but seem to have no problem being neighbours.

      And the circling and chuffing sound very like mating behaviour to me, though it’s usually the female/smaller hog making the noise.
      https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/hedgehog-babies/

      Best of Luck!

      Clare

  13. Thanks for posting this, most helpful. I’ve just encountered a couple of hogs in the midst of the mating ritual in my garden but didn’t know that until I checked on here! I thought it might have been aggressive lol.

  14. Hi Clare
    Do you have an email where people can bug you with random hedgehog questions or do we just use the replies on posts 😂

    Got a family of hedgehogs that used to live in my garden, mum and 4 babies…. However everyone left the nest and moved into my neighbors…. Still pop round every night for their tea….. Babies/or juveniles as I’ve now got to start calling them lol… Still very friendly with mum and hang around with her, even at approx age of 3 months (I’ve gotten over the whole they leave mother thing at a certain age, coz that has just not happened yet lol)

    My question is, at what age can juveniles become pregnant and what sounds do hedgehogs make when giving birth?

    I’m pretty sure that my local hedgehog rescue has gotten sick of my questions, and my reports of weird behaviour….and while I might be placing human characteristics on hogs, I’ve actually bonded with mine and have trained them with conditioning techniques to come and eat every night…. Which means they put up with some pretty weird stuff…. Like me crouching next to a house asking if they are ok while they grunt and sniff at me

    Yes my neighbors think I’m weird too, can you see why I asked about a direct email address 🤣

    1. Hi Amanda,

      I’m reading your comment at 7.15 on a very miserable morning and laughing out loud – thanks for waking me up and putting a smile on my face. Have to stick with the comments though I’m afraid!

      Young hedgehogs don’t have babies until they have survived their first winter. Which is just one of the reasons why it’s so important we do all we can to support them through hibernation.

      On the labour noises – I don’t know! Never had this question before but, knowing hedgehogs, I can’t imagine it’s a quiet process!

      Keep up the good work!

      Best

      Clare

      1. Is this legitimate fact? Is there scientific research somewhere that has done studies on hedgehog maturity? I’ve googled and googled for the life of me and cannot find a straight answer anywhere (for instance my local hedgehog rescue insists they can’t have babies until they are 2 years old)

        I work better with cats… Im a cat person 😂
        But also knowing cats and their biology (which to be honest has helped me a lot with hedgehogs, like not touching the babies) has me worried as female cats can get pregnant from 4 months of age……

        Which is why I’m concerned about my juveniles hoglets, especially as one of them is exhibiting the same behaviours I watched in her mother when I found out she’d had babies…..
        And while she has taken up root in my hedgehog house, I don’t want to go poking about in case she does have babies in there…..

        In any case she certainly gets a lot of visitors, wish you had an option to add pics on here, as last week both mum, suspected new mum and two of her siblings all squeezed into the box 😂😂 and this isn’t a large box lol
        Do they do midwife training for hedgehogs? Or can I start a new trend?

        Glad I made you smile anyway 😉

  15. Hi Amanda,

    Thank you for all your information.

    I have 2 to three hogs visiting. Last night one of them was making a noise I had not heard before, more of a gurgling, bubbling noise but not a cough.

    Could this indicate illness?

    Many thanks

    Liz

  16. I heard a sound that I thought was a little owl, but as I was looking for an owl out of the window, a hedgehog walked by and the sound seems to be coming from the hedgehog! It was around 11.00pm or so. I recorded it – happy to share it if you are able to shed any light on the matter!

  17. Hi.
    Thanks for the great information about hedgehogs. We had a hedgehog appear in our garden just over a year ago which surprised us as our garden is completely fenced in. He seemed happy to live amongst some discarded childrens toys that made a nice little shelter but soon moved into our garden storage box. My husband sits next to the open patio door and saw him regularly. He started feeding him and a few times, when my husband wasn’t quick enough with the food, the hog came into the house (stays away if I’m in sight). We thought he’d left the garden when there was no sightings after the hibernation period.
    The hog reappeared on 16th July and, again, entered the house asking to be fed. Almost 2 weeks later my husband noticed our resident was accompanied by a mate. She is slightly smaller and lighter in colour. She has been making mating sounds and they are both living together in the storage box.
    Your information says that they are solitary and have ‘one night stands’ so are our hogs unusual? It’s it also unusual for hedgehogs to come out of hibernation/mate late July early August?

    1. That sounds like great entertainment. We’re getting lots of reports of hogs wandering into peoples houses this year.

      It is quite unusual for the two of them to be living together, but mating in July and August is fairly common. Look out for hoglets in a few weeks!

      Best

      Clare

  18. Hi
    We have 2 or 3 hogs visit us and one sounds like it either farts or sneezes or coughs as it eats the dry kitten food we put out. Should we intervene? It’s active, and visits to feed by the back door most nights

    1. Hi Karen,

      If it looks healthy and the coughing/farting/sneezing isn’t persistent I would leave it be. hedgehogs can be noisy, especially when eating!

      Best

      Clare

  19. Hi
    We have 2 or 3 hogs visit us and one sounds like it either farts or sneezes or coughs as it eats the dry kitten food we put out. Should we intervene? It’s active, and visits to feed by the back door most nights

  20. Hi Clare

    My hog makes the same grunting noise as in your video, but it does it randomly during the day when it’s resting in it’s nestbox. Is this usual behaviour ?

    Regards

    John

    1. Hi John,

      That sounds just fine, I’m told I sometimes make random grunting noises when I’m resting too 🙂

      Best

      Clare

  21. Hi Clare, what a fascinating read for me, thank you for sharing your hedgehogs with strangers!

    I have no idea how many we have, one guest saw 3 in one night. I think they make their home under the bike shed. In general they have not made themselves heard, and other than freezing when my dog investigates them at close distance they are timid and stay hidden. However last night at 01h00 there was squealing and loud slapping noises that went on for 4 or 5 minutes. I could only watch from an upstairs window and of course could not see much in the dark, but I did make out two creatures slinking off together, predators, most likely foxes. I’ve just had a look at 09h15 but saw no bodies.

    First question, Beside their quills and rolling into a ball and hiding, do they have any defenses? With all the little creatures here, ( there are rodents, squirrels, zillions of birds) cats shop here. Foxes are new though, so I’m worried for my hog family. Fallen birds laid under trees disappear, and one was an adolescent magpie, so something large carried him off. I suppose we may have polecats in the vicinity as well.

    What do I need to set up for nocturnal video recording, anyway?

  22. We currently have 3 hedgehogs that come and feed every night, sometimes together and sometimes alone. 2 are big and one slightly smaller. We just heard a really loud noise, when I say loud I could hear it as if it were inside! Like a barking noise. Mum convinced it was coughing… I went to investigate, there was a slight shuffling and one hedgehog ran off… fast! We feed them hedgehog food, the dry biscuit but always leave fresh water too. Could it have had a piece stuck in its throat? All quiet now.
    They not eating quite as much in the last few days (phew! They’re eating us out of house and home!!! 🤣).

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