A recent spate of salmonella cases have been linked to hedgehogs. So if you were considering kissing one, probably don’t.
In the last four months, 11 people in 8 states have contracted a specific strain of salmonella, The New York Times reports. And in all but one of those cases, the infected person had recent contact with a hedgehog.
Apparently, hedgehogs have been linked to this particular strain of salmonella before:
From December 2011 to April 2013, 26 people were infected with the same bacterial strain, Salmonella typhimurium; a majority of them reported contact with hedgehogs. One person died and eight people were hospitalized in that outbreak.
There have been no deaths in the recent cases. But, though experts aren’t really sure why hedgehogs are more likely to spread the infection than other animals, the Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands after touching a hedgehog and not touching it with your mouth at all. Also, don’t bathe hedgehogs in the kitchen sink and keep their cages clean. Sounds like excellent advice!
What’s more, hedgehogs just plain don’t want to be kissed because they’re solitary creatures who like to be left the eff alone, according to breeder Kim Tipton:
“It’s not a puppy. It’s not a kitten. It’s not a hamster. It’s not something you’re going to pet or cuddle.”
One more hedgehog tip from the Times: don’t let your spiky little buddy, which the internet tells me is not a rodent, sleep in your bed. Good to know!