We recently received this question from a new hedgehog owner:
“My little new 1 and 1/2 year old hedgie licks on my hands every time we are socializing with him. Is it the salt on my skin? Does he need a salt and mineral block?
When a hedgehog encounters a new smell, he will often lick to taste test. Lotions, soaps and perfumes can be new and interesting for a hedgehog and they may like the taste of certain products. Licking is also common the first month in a new home as your hedgehog becomes accustomed to new smells.
Some hedgehogs like to taste test more than others, but when it comes to fingers, it should definitely be discouraged. Licking is often followed by biting and/or self-anointing. Self-anointing is when a hedgehog encounters an unusual smell and then begins to lick and bite the object, produce foamy saliva, and spread the foam onto his quills with his tongue.
Some hedgehogs may like the taste of sweaty palms and some owners have mistaken that as a need for salt in their diet. However, salt should not be added to a hedgehog’s diet as it can cause health problems.
Washing your hands prior to handling your hedgie should help prevent licking and biting. Some owners use hand sanitizer to prevent this behavior.
Have a question about your hedgehog? Contact us today and we will be happy to answer it!