Hedgehog vomiting can be scary if you own a pet hedgehog. While hedgehogs are hardy creatures when it comes to surviving in the wild, they are not unbreakable, and they have rather fragile stomachs. They cannot eat certain things, and they are prone to quite a few illnesses.
Hedgehogs are also lactose intolerant, they will eat most dairy products, however they will experience stomach problems afterwards. Milk and cheese are the worst culprits of this, issues are one of the primary reasons a hedgehog will be sick, usually from eating something they shouldn’t.
It should be understood that a natural, wild hedgehog diet will consist mostly of earthworms, beetles, caterpillars, slugs, snails, millipedes, earwigs, and larvae.
They also like vegetation as well. It is very possible that when they have consumed man-made food they may be sick, and some foods simply will not agree with their gentle stomachs.
However, for some people, hedgehogs vomiting and self anointing can be mistaken for one another.
Anointing is a totally different and natural thing that hedgehogs do. So, while we inform you about hedgehog vomit, we want to also tell you about self-anointing, so you never get the two mixed up.
Hedgehog vomit vs self anointing.
Hedgehogs do not often vomit, oftentimes vomiting can be a sign of stress, or eating something they should not have. With captive hedgehogs, if something falls in their food or water bowls, and they eat it, this can easily cause a stomach upset and vomiting.
The color of the vomit depends on what has their stomach upset, it also depends on their diet, if they have a more natural diet then it is likely that the vomit will follow this color, sometimes gray.
The color of their vomit will look like their food, much like when we are sick.
Stress in many animals can make them sick, it can happen in humans too.
The difference between vomiting and self anointing is in the purpose as well as the color. Vomit will look like whatever your hedgehog eats, if they eat a normal insect based diet then their vomit is more likely to be a dark color.
However, self anointing will appear white and foamy. This is quite frightening for people to see. The hedgehog will writhe and foam at the mouth and twist their head backward, then deposit this foam over their body.
You might assume that this poor creature is sick, or has rabies, but it is totally normal. Anointing is done due to them picking up a strong or new smell, as a form of sexual behavior, or just because they are feeling protective.
Self anointing is not dangerous, and it certainly is not vomiting, so if you see a hedgehog foaming at the mouth, don’t worry they are not sick, they are just feeling hormonal, or protective, or perhaps smelt something new.
Hedgehog vomit is usually a dark color, and will look similar to their diet. If a hedgehog has a diet that is made up largely of insects, the vomit will be dark in color and perhaps have bits of insect in it.
If they have eaten vegetation then their vomit may be lighter in color with bits of leaves or such in it.
The primary cause of vomiting in hedgehogs is eating something they shouldn’t have.
However, it can be more serious and if the hedgehog is being very sick, continuously, and they are starting to get dehydrated then they will need to see a veterinarian, or be taken to an animal sanctuary for medical attention.
The biggest danger with vomiting is dehydration in hedgehogs, especially before and after they hibernate, if wild.
Vomiting is also possible as the result of a gastrointestinal disease, although this is not likely, as hedgehogs who are suffering from gastrointestinal diseases are more likely to get diarrhea.
Hedgehog self anointing
Hedgehog anointing is weird, and has confused hedgehog specialists for a very long time. It is a mystery.
It can be a bit disturbing to see this tiny, spiny, creature twist their head back toward their body, foaming at the mouth, and using their obscenely long tongue to deposit this foam over their quills.
They do this to anoint their quills, and it is totally normal and non-fatal.
If you own a hedgehog then you may worry that you did something wrong that is now causing them to self anoint, however, you have not, and it is possible that you are just wearing something, such as a new perfume that has made them decide to do this.
Self anointing can be triggered by strong fragrant smells, smells or taste that are new to them, sexual instincts, and protective instincts.
Why do hedgehogs self anoint?
A hedgehog may self anoint because their vision is terrible and their sense of smell is more powerful to compensate. This means they are sensitive to smells, and therefore they may smell something around them that has triggered them to self anoint.
Hedgehogs may also self anoint every time they encounter a new smell or taste, as to why this happens is a mystery, but it is very possible. So, for hedgehog owners, do not worry if your hedgehog starts anointing after you give them a new food.
It is also possible that they may do this as part of sexual behavior, there is not a huge amount of evidence to back this up. However, it is possible that the quills of a hedgehog retain scents that may aid in sexual attraction. So, anointing may be the hedgehog equivalent of putting on a nice cologne before going on a hot date.
There is another theory that states hedgehogs do this to be protective. In the wild, they may anoint their quills with toxins that their predators would get pricked with if coming too close.
The frothy substance on top just adds to this defensive measure. We don’t know about you, but we wouldn’t want to eat something covered in a smelly white froth.