Hedgehogs have a unique and fascinating ability to smear frothy saliva on various parts of their body referred to as self anointing. This talent is demonstrated even before they open their eyes.
Anointing is often induced by unusual or new scents to hedgehogs. Often younger hedgehogs anoint more than well socialized older hedgehogs. Upon finding an item of interest the hedgehog becomes curious, sniffing and licking the object rapidly, producing froth and often biting to gain more of the object’s flavour. After working the saliva to a lather the hedgehog will contort their body to spread and deposit the new smell.
Reasons behind anointing are unknown but speculation is to camouflage with new smells, remember the new experience. Another theory is because they are resistant to toxins in their environment the anointing process helps spread toxins as defence mechanism and enhancing their resistance to new toxins. A final idea is hedgehogs adorn the scent by anointing like we wear Cologne or perfume.
It is interesting to speculate the drive behind this instinct and behaviour, but even better to watch your pet exhibit anointing and finding new experiences for you and your pet.