The Need To Chew

  • Hedgehogs are not rodents, so their teeth do not continue to grow throughout their life.
  • They do not need to wear down their teeth by chewing or gnawing.
  • Hedgehogs are not destructive and do not destroy their surroundings like rodents.
  • Even though hedgehogs aren’t likely to chew wires, it is still safe to use caution with electric cords and other potentially dangerous items.
  • “If you buy your hedgehog something to chew on, like a wood block or a ball, it will most likely just ignore it or push it around with its snout. If you buy something flavored and textured, the hedgehog may attempt to lick it to get the taste. It has also been noted that hedgehogs can cut their tongues on rough textured surfaces causing more harm than good.”
  • Some hedgehogs will attempt to tug on carpet and attempt to chew it.  These fibers are indigestible and dangerous to your hedgehog.
  • Chewing is typically done in preparation to swallow.  This breaking apart is preparing the object (food) to eat.

Chewing and Mashing of Objects Other Than Food or Treats

  • If a hedgehog likes the taste or smell, it will lick it first before attempting to chew or mash the object.
  • When a hedgehog mashing something it’s mouth moves up and down.  It is simply trying to break apart or mix the taste of the object with it’s own saliva. Typically this is in preparation to self anoint.
  • When a hedgehog mashes it is not trying to bite off a piece of the object, it is simply trying to get more of the flavor in its mouth.
  • Hedgehogs can put small objects in their mouth in order to investigate the object.  The danger lies when non-food items go into the mouth, it is often difficult for the hedgehog to get the object out.  Small, swallowed

Leather and Clothing

  • Hedgehogs do tend to have an affinity for leather items such as leather shoes.  A stinky shoe has entertained many hedgehogs!
  • Some hedgehogs will nip and tug on clothing. Reasons for tugging on clothing include:
    • Fascination with the smell
    • Oral investigation
    • Trying to create a burrow or pull something over them
  • When hedgehogs use their mouth to explore their environment (other than skin) it isn’t harmful, but instead may be a very good sign of comfort and affection.
  • When given a small piece of fleece (approximately 2 inches square) some of these hedgehogs will carry around their fleece squares like a security blanket.

Primary Author: Gail Dick, Millermeade Farm’s Critter Connection

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