Hedgehog Anointing: Why does your Hedgehog spit on itself?

If you have a hedgehog as a pet, you may have seen this scenario prior as well. You may have noticed your hedgehog suddenly stop from any activity it is doing, then contorting into an awkward position and it starts to foam from its mouth. After this, your hedgehog continues to lick as well as spread this foam on to its body.

If you are worried with regards to this behavior of your pet Hedgehog, we can assure you that there is nothing for you to worry about. This behaviour exhibited by your hedgehog is completely normal and is called Hedgehog anointing or Hedgehog self anointing.

Causes of Hedgehog self anointing

Now that you know that there is nothing wrong with your Hedgehog and that it is your Hedgehog’s behaviour of self anointing. Let us look at a few reasons as to why your Hedgehog may be doing so.

Foaming at the mouth of a Hedgehog for self anointing is still a mystery to science.  The reasons provided below are educated guesses by scientists studying Hedgehog behaviour and we could not agree more to it.

  • Covering its own smell

You will mostly see your Hedgehog exhibit such behaviour especially near new smells. It could be anything from your new perfume to your kitchen soap, and you may see your Hedgehog having foam at the mouth and starting to self anoint. This is believed to be a self defense mechanism and very similar to other animals in the wild who cover themselves in the odor of other animal carcasses so as to mask their own smell and not give up their hiding position. Here, it is assumed that your hedgehog may be feeling threatened and wants to hide itself from any potential danger.

  • A poisonous Defense Mechanism

Hedgehogs are famous for having a very high resistance against any toxic material and this also the reason that Hedgehogs are able to survive out in the wild feeding on giant toads even though they are full of toxic material inside. This kind of defense mechanism showcases that your hedgehog maybe spitting on or licking itself because it believes its covering its body with toxic material so as to ensure that he can keep any sort of hungry predators away.

Should you be worried?

If your Hedgehog has this kind of behaviour it is perfectly normal but this does not mean that if your Hedgehog is not showcasing such behaviour that something is wrong with him. It is proof that your Hedgehog feels completely safe in the environment that you have provided for him.

You may especially see this behaviour if your hedgehog is a baby or you have just adopted it. Hedgehogs, as mentioned above, tend to even feel a bit threatened if you yourself end up smelling different than usual as it is not a smell your hedgehog is aware off. Hedgehogs may even exhibit such behaviour while they are being cleaned or being handled as they are pretty much helpless in such a situation and will definitely feel threatened.

ConclusionDon’t worry now. Your Hedgehog is perfectly safe and as you can see from above it also has its own way of protecting itself. This behaviour is for animals who feel they need protecting from predators by way of masking their smell and even when they feel that licking or spitting on themselves will help applying a poisonous layer on their back as a way to dissuade any other animal from making them their dinner.    

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