As a new hedgehog owner, you may need some time to adjust to your hedgehog’s habit. Selfanointing is one such habit that owners find peculiar when they first see it. In addition, many new owners are unaware of why do hedgehogs self anoint?
Hedgehogs self anoint as a defence mechanism to protect themselves from predators.
When hedgehogs self anoint, many pet parents become scared because it does not look normal. However, if you have a hedgehog that self anoints, it means that it is healthy. Since hedgehogs are by nature prey animals, they have innate self defense mechanisms.
Hedgehogs self anoint by foaming at the mouth and covering themselves in saliva. By doing so, hedgehogs attempt to mask their scent, so they blend with the surroundings. The saliva also contains toxins to keep predators away.
Do All Hedgehogs Self Anoint?
While there have been no proper studies conducted on the behavior of hedgehogs, it is an uncommon behavior. Not all hedgehogs will self anoint. According to one study, hedgehogs self anoint the most in July. In addition, male hedgehogs are more likely to display self anointing behavior than female hedgehogs.
If you have an adult hedgehog, it may not self anoint much or not at all. However, younger hedgehogs are more likely to self anoint as everything is new around them, and they are introduced to new scents.
Is Hedgehog Anointing Bad?
Hedgehogs anointing can look bad when you experience it for the first time. This is because when hedgehog’s self anoint, they cover themselves with their saliva. Hence, hedgehogs have to be in positions where they can reach all parts of their body.
Many hedgehog owners have reported self anointing incidents and were terrified because of it.
However, hedgehog anointing is not bad, but on the other hand, it means your hedgehog is healthy. In the wild, hedgehogs self anoint to cover themselves in an attempt to mask their scent. Hedgehogs are born with mechanisms that give them protection against predators.
Therefore, even if a hedgehog is domesticated, it will still self anoint.
If you do not like to see your hedgehog self anoint, it is best not to wear new scents around it. Self anointment is a defense mechanism; however, hedgehogs also self anoint if they get excited about new scents and objects.
Why Do Hedgehogs Foam at the Mouth?
We admit that looking at your hedgehog foaming at the mouth is not a great sight. However, it is natural for hedgehogs to foam at the mouth and cover themselves to hide their scent from predators.
In addition, many people speculate that since hedgehogs consume toxic toads, their saliva may also contain toxins – in the wild, at least!
While foaming at the mouth is normal, it may not be if your hedgehog is not licking and spreading it. If you find your hedgehog foaming at the mouth without doing anything to spread it, it is an alarming situation, and you should consult the vet immediately.
Since hedgehogs hide their diseases, any such symptom means that the situation is bad. Your hedgehog may be suffering from mouth disease or some dental problem if it foams at the mouth unnecessarily.
Sometimes hedgehogs also foam consistently if they have food or kibble stuck in their mouth, so you should check for it.
Keeping a hedgehog as your pet means learning new things about it every day. Hence, it is best to observe your hedgehog and track its routine and behavior. Consult with your vet if you see anything out of the ordinary, such as foaming consistently at the mouth.
What Does Self Anointing Look Like?
Hedgehogs will self anoint if they come across a new scent. The theory is that hedgehogs get excited, or they begin to mask their scent to camouflage and blend with the surroundings. However, another theory is that hedgehogs will self anoint to attract potential mating partners.
When a hedgehog begins to self anoint, it will grind its teeth and produce foam at the mouth. Next, the hedgehog will spread its body and distribute the saliva all over its body. Finally, the hedgehog turns and twists itself in different positions, reaching every part of its body.
This behavior may seem odd at first, but hedgehog owners get used to it.
A hedgehog that is self anointing becomes absorbed in the process to the point that it is unaware of its surroundings.
How To Clean After Self Anointment
Self anointment is a messy process, and therefore, it requires a bit of work from your side. While self anointment comprises saliva, it does not leave any marks behind and dries up. If there is some saliva residue on the hedgehog’s quills, you can wipe it off with a piece of cloth.
It is best for the hedgehog if you avoid using cleaning liquid or soap. Hedgehogs are highly sensitive to new smells, and hence, they will start to self anoint. However, if you notice visible heavy saliva deposits on your hedgehog, you may have to bathe it.
If your hedgehog is of a darker color, the self anointment spots may not be visible. However, if your hedgehog is light-colored, the anointment spots will be visible.
Hedgehogs self anoint because it is a self-defense mechanism they were born with. When a hedgehog self anoints, it foams at the mouth and covers itself with its spit. There are many theories as to why hedgehogs self anoint.
Hedgehogs cover themselves in spit to mask their scent and blend with the surroundings. Moreover, hedgehogs also consume toxic animals like toads, which means their spit may contain toxins to keep them safe from predators.
When hedgehogs foam at the mouth, it is normal if they are spreading it. However, if a hedgehog is foaming consistently without spreading it, it means there is something wrong. The hedgehog may be suffering from mouth diseases or a dental problem.
Hence, it is best to get your hedgehog checked by the vet immediately if it displays odd behavior. Young hedgehogs are more likely to self anoint than adult hedgehogs.