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 pet and owner!
Hedgehogs are sensitive little critters, so below we’ve answered the common hedgehog bath and grooming questions as a guide for proper cleaning for your hedgehog.
Towards the bottom of the page, we’ll discuss how to cut your hedgehog’s nails. It’s important to trim them from time to time 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.
The African Pygmy Hedgehog breeders at Northern Plains Hedgehogs suggest no more than one bath per month to avoid drying out your hedgehog’s 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 his cage regularly and spot clean when you notice spots needing to be cleaned.
If you do notice that your hedgehog gets very dirty and needs a bath more than once per month, most breeders suggest using an oatmeal bath (discussed below). Hedgehogs are prone to dry skin, and frequent baths 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 options of ingredients you can use to clean your hedgehog:
- Only warm water. Some vets and breeders recommend using only water to clean your hedgehog, however if you want a really clean hedgehog, 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.
- Pet shampoo. Since pet shampoos are made specifically to be gentle on animal skin and eyes, this makes a decent choice for hedgehogs.
- Oatmeal shampoo. It seems to be the consensus of many reputable hedgehog breeders that Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo is an excellent, safe option for cleaning your hedgehog, especially if he is prone to dry skin or needs a bath more than once per month, as it is gentle 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 you bathe your hedgehog, 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 a shallow water bath. However, you can also use a towel to more carefully bathe your hedgehog 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’s similar to bathing a baby or a dog – you want the water comfortably warm, but not so warm as to make the hedgehog uncomfortable. Run the water over your hands until the water feels comfortable, and then fill the bath.
How do I wash my hedgehog?
Step 1: If doing a water 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 hedgehog on top of the towel, and gently rub the towel over your hedgehogs belly, legs, and back, again, avoiding the face and ears, and rub the towel in the direction of the quills.
Step 2: 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.
Step 3: 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.
Step 4: 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 suggests putting a nice snuggle sack (basically a tiny fleece sleeping bag) or small towel into the hedgehog’s cage after their bath so that they can stay warm while they dry. They also warn to take the snuggle sack or towel out after the hedgehog is dry, about ten 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 his nails have become long or find him 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 your hedgehog’s foot in your hand firmly but gently. Clip each nail. You can use pet nail trimmers, (make sure to get ones for small pets, like these), or 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 this, as hedgehog’s nails are opaque). The nail should not bleed – if it does this means that you cut into the quick. If this happens, supervise your hedgehog until the bleeding stops, and be sure to leave more distance between the quick on the rest of the nails.
If your hedgehog is rambunctious or aggressive during nail trimming time, you may want to ask someone to hold the hedgehog so that you can concentrate on carefully clipping his nails.
After clipping his nails or giving a bath, you can reward your hedgehog with a treat for a job well done.
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