Care and Acclimation | Handling Tips and Instructions | Litter Training | Bathing & Nail Trimming
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Bathing And Nail Trimming


  • Many hedgehogs love to play in warm water and will enjoy themselves during bath time.
  • We prefer to give hedgehogs a bath in a sink or a bathtub.  Hedgehogs are prone to relieve themselves in the warm water so we prefer to use our laundry sink.  The laundry sink it is easier to change water than in the bathtub and it is away from where we prepare food. 
  • Hedgehogs that like to swim may enjoy the bathtub and a kitchen sink can be disinfected after use if other options are not available.
  • Even though hedgehogs are good swimmers one should never leave a hedgehog unattended.
  • Frequency
    • You will know your hedgehog is ready for a bath when it looks dirty, has dry skin, “poopy boots” (dirty feet from, well, you know!), or anointed spots of dried “stuff”.
    • Hedgehogs do not groom or clean themselves like some animals. 
    • Some hedgehogs need baths frequently and others seldom need one.
    • Bathing generally helps to relieve dry skin but hedgehogs bathed too frequently may contribute to dry skin
  • What You Will Need
    • Make sure to gather all your needed supplies before you start. You will need soap or shampoo, a soft toothbrush, and a towel.
    • The temperature of the water should be warm, similar to what is comfortable for a human baby.  Many water safety devices are on the market for checking water temperature.
    • A piece of indoor-outdoor carpet in the bottom of the sink makes the sink less slippery for your hedgehog and it helps clean the hedgehog’s feet and nails.
    • A non-slip bathtub mat may also be helpful.
  • Bath products
    • Some veterinarians recommend only water but most hedgehog owners use some type of bath products to help clean and soften the skin.
    • Always watch the skin for signs of irritation to bath products.
    • You can make a homemade oatmeal soak by placing a handful of oatmeal in cheesecloth or panty hose and hold it under the warm, running water. Squeeze the oatmeal to release the milky colored emollients in the water.  Oatmeal soaks are great for dry skin.
    • Most tear-free baby shampoos are safe to use on your hedgehog.  Our favorite is Aveeno oatmeal baby shampoo but other breeders prefer Johnson’s and Johnson’s lavender baby wash.  Trial or sample sizes work well because a little bit will go a long way.
    • Pet shampoos are generally safe for hedgehogs. 
    • Bathing is a popular topic on hedgehog Internet lists and some suggestions I have read on the lists are very mild tea-tree bar soap, chamomile and oatmeal or lavender soaps found at the health food store.
  • Preparing the Water
    • The temperature of the water should be warm, similar to what is comfortable for a human baby. 
    • Many water safety devices are on the market for checking water temperature.  This type of product can be found in the infant or bathing section of stores
    • We recommend using one to three inches of water in the sink or bathtub.  Some hedgehogs like to swim in a little deeper water and others are more comfortable walking around in more shallow water.
  • Technique
    • It is fairly normal for hedgies to poop, pee, and fidget in a bath until they get used to the idea.
    • It is easiest to wash a relaxed hedgie so you may want to give your hedgehog a little time to get used to the water and relax its spines.
    • Lathering a little soap in your hands then rubbing it on your hedgehog tends to be easier than applying the soap directly to your pet.
    • Use a soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush on the hedgies spines and feet.
    • Avoid getting water in the hedgehog’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
    • Rinse all the soap from your hedgie because soap residue can cause dry skin as well.
    • Wrap your hedgie in a dryer warmed towel or warm up a towel with a hair dryer on a low setting.  Keep one hand in the towel with your hedgehog so you can make sure your hedgehog is not getting too warm.  It isn’t a good idea to use the hair dryer directly on your pet.
    • Make sure the hedgehog is completely dry after its bath to prevent chilling.

Nail Trimming

    • Hedgehogs have nails similar to humans.  Their nail is relatively clear and they have a quick at the end.
    • Some hedgehogs will require their nails trimmed more frequently than others (every couple weeks) but some hedgehogs wear their nails down during their play.
    • Nails that are too long on the front feet can curl under and damage and deform the foot, inhibit normal walking, or increase the risk of infection.
    • The nails on the back feet seldom curl under but if they are too long they can make walking difficult.
  • Techniques
    • We use baby nail clippers to trim hedgie nails.
    • After a bath is usually the easiest time to trim nails because the nails are softer and the hedgehog is more relaxed.
    • One method is to hold the hedgehog in your hands, grab a paw and let someone else trim the nail.  This can be done in the water or while being held immediately after the bath.
    • Be careful not to twist the leg or over extend it.  A firm grasp is good but pulling and tugging could be dangerous. 
    • Another method is to put your hedgehog on a screen or aquarium lid.  Hold the screen at an angle and the hedgehog will grip the screen to hang on.  This will make it easier for you to pick-up a foot.
  • Cutting the Quick
    • Cutting the nail too far into the quick or nail bed it will cause it to bleed but it will not cause permanent damage.
    • You can use Styptic powder (this may burn), a blood-stop product such as Stop Quik, or finally cornstarch or flour to help stop the bleeding.
    • It is a good idea to have blood-stopping products available or on hand before you actually need them.

Observing Feet and Legs

  • While daily observations of your pet are important bath time may provide an occasion when you may have better lighting and a more cooperative pet.
  • It is important to carefully observe your hedgehog’s feet and legs.  Loose threads from a variety of sources, human hair, and carpet fibers can all wrap around hedgie feet.  The extent of the resulting damage can range from mild discomfort to loss of blood supply to the foot and subsequent need for amputation.
  • Refer to our Signs of Good Health guide for more detailed information on what else to look for when observing your pet.