Why Do Hedgehogs Lick?: What You Should Know

Hedgehogs have gained plenty of popularity in recent years as pets and, just like other types of animals, hedgehogs have their own unique quirks and personalities.

If you’ve already the owner of an African pygmy hedgehog, then you might have noticed that it likes to lick plenty of things that it comes into contact with.

Below, we’re going to be talking you through some of the main reasons why hedgehogs like to lick their owners, themselves, as well as what the meaning behind it is. So, without further ado, let’s take a look:

Why do hedgehogs lick you?

Whether you’re considering adding a cute hedgehog to your family, or you’re already the proud owner of an African pygmy, then you might have noticed that it likes to lick your hand whenever you handle it. 

The first thing to note is that hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, but a very keen sense of taste and smell.

Therefore, seeing as they have very bad eyesight, hedgehogs explore the world mainly through their other senses – including their taste buds. So, as your hedgehog climbs on your lap or is cradled in your palm, he might lick and sniff you simply because it’s his way of exploring.

Besides that, some people even believe that hedgehogs lick their owners as a way to show affection.

Hedgehogs are very gentle, kind-natured animals and they are almost never aggressive towards their owners, especially if they have been hand-reared as babies.

They also have the tendency to form lifelong bonds with their owners, which is why many people feel that hedgehogs can sometimes lick their owners as a way to show affection or to help clean. 

What does it mean if a hedgehog licks you?

As we discussed above, licking is a natural behavior for hedgehogs to display and is almost always never a cause for concern. More often than not, your hedgehog is most likely licking you because it likes the taste of the salt on your skin.

However, he may also be licking and sniffing as a way to explore his surroundings and to suss out whether or not he is in danger, 

In addition to all of that, a hedgehog may also be licking you as a way to begin self anointing, which is when a hedgehog becomes fixated on covering itself in a frothy saliva mixture.

Lots of different things can trigger this strange phenomenon, and some people find that their hedgehogs proceed to begin the self anointing process immediately after it has finished licking their hands.

Why do hedgehogs lick their quills?

More often than not, if your hedgehog is licking its quills, it means that it is self-anointing itself, or is about to begin self-anointing. If you own a pet hedgehog, then we’re sure that you’ve already witnessed your prickly pet spending hours on end self-anointing itself.

If you weren’t already aware, hedgehogs are known for self-anointing (which is also known as self-licking) and is a behavior that many animal experts are unsure of what the reason is. 

When a hedgehog encounters a stimulating substance, it can cause the hedgehog to begin self anointing itself, and this is a process that can take up to several hours.

Usually, the taste of the substance will instantly trigger the hedgehog to begin self anointing itself, and this usually starts by licking the quills.

After licking the quills, hedgehogs will usually then proceed to begin creating a frothy, saliva mixture that they then lick across their spines.

Many owners note that during this period of self-anointing, hedgehogs almost enter a trance, in which they are completely oblivious to anything around them – including danger! 

If self-anointing isn’t the reason, then your little hedgehog may be simply licking themselves as a way to get rid of any dirt they can feel on their quills, or as a way to prune themselves. 

Why does my hedgehog lick his lips?

Lip and nose licking are perfectly normal behaviors for a little hedgehog to display, and usually nothing to perry about. Usually, a hedgehog will lick his lips to moisturize them or to clean off any dirt that may be on them.

In addition to that, just like the way that we lick our lips when we’re hungry, hedgehogs can do the same, and will often lick their lips when they smell delicious foods, or when they know that their food is going to be given to them soon.

In addition to this, another reason why hedgehogs lick their lips may be due to self-anointing. While a hedgehog self anoints itself, it will frequently lick its lips as it creates the frothy, salvia mixture that then gets spread across its spine.