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Hedgehogs After Dark: Grooming and self-anointing

29th June 2020

It’s the eighth week into the Hedgehogs After Dark and we’re looking at grooming and the mysterious behaviour that is self-anointing…

Hedgehogs are renowned for having fleas. However, the fleas found on hedgehogs are actually host specific, meaning they will not survive for long on any other species, be it pets or people. Occasionally hedgehogs can become infested with fleas but usually they will only have a few resident fleas which will cause them no harm.

Ticks are another common external parasite on hedgehogs. Ticks are also generally harmless to hedgehogs. However, a high parasite load can be indicative of sickness. So if you seeing you hedgehog scratching, this it’s way of grooming itself and knocking off the worst of the offenders.

Video by Chris Powles, Kirtlington Wildlife and Conservation Society (KWACS)

Have you seen a local hedgehog licking itself? This is a more unusual behaviour called ‘self-anointing’. It’s where a ‘hog will foam at the mouth, and start spreading the foam onto its spines with it’s tongue. This is completely normal, and thought to be a way for hedgehogs to cover themselves in a new smell, although researchers are still not 100% sure of the reason for self-anointing.

**Hedgehogs After Dark has now finished, but you can check out the highlights on our YouTube channel, and log hedgehog sightings on the BIG Hedgehog Map!**