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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 get up to all sorts in our gardens. You can find out more, and see video examples of lots of different behaviours here.

There’s still time to take part in Hedgehogs After Dark. If you want to tell us what your hedgehogs have been up to, take part today!

Please note: You’ll need to be a registered Hedgehog Champion to take part, so you may be redirected to register or log in via the button above. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll also get access to lots of free downloadable resources.