Do Hedgehogs Need Baths? And, How to Do It?
Hedgehogs should be bathed from time to time, as they do not clean themselves like some animals.
The good news is that hedgehogs are great swimmers and typical enjoy bath time, so it can be a fun experience for them and you.
One thing to know is that this little mammals are sensitive critters, so below we’ve answered the most common questions as a guide for proper bathing.
Lastly, towards the bottom of the page, I’ll discuss how to cut your hedgehog’s nails. It’s important to trim them so that they don’t catch on materials and break.
How often should I bathe my hedgehog?
The frequency of baths depends on how prone to getting dirty your hedgehog is.
Based on the African Pygmy Hedgehog breeders at Northern Plains Hedgehogs, suggest no more than one bath per month.
The main reason behind is to avoid drying out their skin.
Most hedgehogs will need a bath even less than once per month.
Hedgehogs become most dirty by stepping in their droppings, so to avoid extra baths, make sure to clean their cage regularly, around once a week or less if required.
If you do notice that your hedgehog gets very dirty and needs a wash more than once per month, most breeders suggest using an oatmeal bath (discussed further below).
As mentioned, they are prone to dry skin and frequent bathing can dry them out even more.
Oatmeal is often used because it is very nourishing to dry skin.
What supplies do I need for a hedgehog bath?
There are several alternatives you can use to keep them happy and healthy during the process.
The most important aspect is to ensure their skin gets no irritate as a result of products containing parabens.
Parabens are preservatives that mainly for cosmetic purposes. Some skins can react to these products.
Only warm water
Some vets and breeders recommend using only water to wash your hedgehog, however if you want a deep process, there are several safe soap options.
Tear-free baby shampoo
Hedgehog skin is prone to dryness and is sensitive like a baby’s skin. Tear-free baby shampoo makes a great choice for hedgehogs since it’s made with sensitivity in mind.
Normal pet shampoo
Since pet shampoos are made specifically to be gentle on animal skin and eyes, this makes a decent choice for hedgehogs.
As discussed, these products will be free of fragrances, colorants and sulfates that could be skin irritants.
Oatmeal bath shampoo
It seems to be the consensus of many reputable hedgehog breeders that Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo is an excellent, safe option for washing your hedgehog.
Their main advantage is that it is gentle with the skin and contains oat extract.
The oatmeal provides moisture and is very soothing for the skin.
There are even pet specific oatmeal shampoo options you can take a look at, such as John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo.
Where should I bathe my pet hedgehog?
You can prepare your hedgehog bath in a clean sink or tub.
Keep in mind that hedgehogs do tend to relieve themselves during a bath, so you may want to avoid a sink where food is prepared.
You can also disinfect the tub or sink after the process, and it will be perfectly safe for normal use again.
How do I prepare the bath?
The most common way to bathe your hedgehog is in shallow water.
However, you can also use a towel without having to rub their quills with bare hands.
– Method 1: Water bath. Fill the sink, tub or wash basin with 2-4 inches of water.
– Method 2: Towel bath. Fill the sink with about an inch of water. Four in a dime-size amount of soap, mix, and place a towel in to soak up the water. Drape towel over the bottom of the sink.
What should the temperature of the water be?
The water should be warm, but not hot.
It would be similar as bathing a baby or a cat – you want the water comfortably warm, but not so warm as to make them uncomfortable.
The trick is to run the water over your hands until it feels comfortable for you.
How do I wash my hedgehog?
Don’t feel worried. It is very easy to do and only by following these steps.
Step 1: doing a water or towel bath
– Pour a dime-size amount of shampoo onto your hands – a little goes a long way – lather, and rub gently over your hedgehog’s back, belly and feet.
– Make sure to avoid their face, eyes and ears – no need to soap these areas.
– You can take a toothbrush and gently brush his quills and feet to remove any tough dirt.
If doing a towel bath
– Place it on top of the towel, and gently rub the towel over their belly, legs, and back.
– As mentioned, it is important to avoid the face and ears, and rub the towel in the direction of the quills.
– Take a cup and pour the warm water over your hedgehog’s back.
– Continue to pour over the hedgehog until the soap is completely washed off, avoiding pouring water over his face.
– If your hedgehog has very dry skin, mix in a teaspoon of olive oil or flax seed oil into the water, and pour a few cup-fulls over your hedgehog.
– The oil does not need to be further rinsed off.
– If you notice there is still excess dirt in your hedgehog’s quills, take a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently scrub the quills.
– Make sure to go in the direction of the quills, and not “against the grain” so to speak, to avoid hurting the hedgehog and yourself.
– Gently wrap up your hedgehog in a clean towel, and pat dry.
– They are difficult to dry since it’s hard to pat the water between the quills dry, and are very temperature sensitive, so make sure to keep them inside the house as they are drying.
Hamor Hallow Hedgehogs (licensed breeder and family owned) suggests putting a nice snuggle sack after their bath (basically a tiny fleece sleeping bag) or small towel into the hedgehog’s cage so that they can stay warm while drying out.
They also warn to take the snuggle sack or towel out after the hedgehog is dry, about ten (10) minutes, so that they do not become bothered by the damp fabric.
Trimming Your Hedgehog’s Nails
After bathing your hedgehog is a great time to trim your hedgehog’s nails to ensure that they’re getting groomed on a regular basis.
However, you may have to trim the nails in between baths if you notice that their nails have become long or find them getting caught on fabrics.
Trimming once every two weeks is typically a good baseline.
To trim your hedgie’s nails, take a pair of nail clippers and take their little foot in your hand firmly but gently.
Clip each nail. You can use any pet nail trimmers if you like, however it is recommended to get ones for small pets, like cats).
Alternatively, you can use small human nail trimmers instead.
Make sure not to cut into the quick (the dark part inside the nail). You should be able to see it, as hedgehog’s nails are opaque.
The nail should not bleed – if it does, it means that you cut into the quick.
It is basic to supervise your hedgehog until the bleeding stops, and be sure to leave more distance between the quick on the rest of the nails.
I recommend to contact a vet online as soon as possible if things do not improve.
If your hedgehog is rambunctious or aggressive during nail trimming time, you may want to ask someone to hold it so that you can concentrate on carefully clipping his nails.
Another technique is to cover their face with a small blanket.
After clipping its nails or giving a bath, make sure you reward it with a treat for a job well done.
You will see how easier will be next time as they know a reward will come.