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Are Hedgehogs Dirty? (And Do They Carry Diseases?)

Are Hedgehogs Dirty? (And Do They Carry Diseases?)

The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.

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Hedgehogs are quirky and adorable-looking creatures that remain cute their entire lives! These little guys are low-maintenance and can be a joy to have around if you know what you’re getting into.

Hedgehogs are not dirty animals. Hedgehogs do regularly clean themselves making them quite hygienic. However, hedgehogs can make their enclosures dirty with feces and urine, so this needs regular cleaning. Furthermore, hedgehogs can carry zoonotic diseases that can spread to humans.

Although these prickly cuties are considered low-maintenance, it is vital to learn what it is like to own a hedgehog – especially when it comes to hygiene! Read on and find out if hedgehogs are dirty, diseases to look out for as well as how to keep your little hedgy as clean as possible!

Are Hedgehogs Dirty?

Hedgehogs are not dirty animals. A hedgehog will naturally clean themselves regularly and are pretty good at it!

The issue with hedgehogs being considered dirty is often because they are in an enclosure that becomes dirty relatively quickly. A dirty cage can then, in turn, dirty your hedgehog, which often gives the impression that hedgehogs can be messy.

A hedgehog, by itself, is not considered a dirty animal as it does perform regular cleaning. However, the overall cleanliness of pet hedgehogs does depend largely on the cleanliness of their owner.

The idea that hedgehogs are dirty largely comes from the fact they are known to excrete fecal matter and urine while they run. The feces and urine can lead to a filthy dirty cage, especially on their wheel.

Overall, the urine and feces can spread around the enclosure and onto the hedgehog, making them seem very dirty. It is therefore vital, as a hedgehog owner, to keep the cage clean.

Keeping Hedgehogs Clean: Keep the Cage Clean

If you own a hedgehog, it is essential to clean the cage as regularly as possible. Cleaning the hedgehog cage is a chore that pet owners should prioritize to keep their hedgehog clean and pest-free.

Fecal matter and urine should be removed from the cage daily as this is what will cause the most mess. Furthermore, the feces and urine can also irritate the hedgehog’s skin if it’s not removed soon enough.

The entire cage should get a full and deep clean at least once a week. It is not a good idea to leave the cleaning for a more extended time as it can affect your hedgehog’s health.

When doing the weekly deep clean, it is advised that you use water and soap to give the entire enclosure a thorough clean.

To help your hedgehog and its enclosure stay as hygienic as possible, cleaning as soon as it becomes dirty is an even better strategy than waiting for the once-a-week opportunity.

Are Hedgehogs Dirty? Diseases

While hedgehogs are not naturally unclean animals, they are known to carry diseases that can give the impression of them being dirty animals.

Hedgehogs can carry a few types of zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic means the disease has the potential to spread to humans and make us ill.

While these diseases are not highly common, there have been cases of these diseases passing onto humans as hedgehogs are more susceptible to contracting certain diseases.

Below are some of the zoonotic diseases that Hedgehogs can carry:

  • Salmonella (the most common)
  • Ringworm
  • Foot-and-mouth disease

These diseases can be prevented by giving your hedgehog the right food, ensuring their cage is clean, and giving them a regular bath.

It is also advised not to kiss your hedgehog or bring it too close to your face. Most of these diseases will spread from your hands onto your face and then into your body, so make sure to wash your hands regularly after touching a hedgehog!

Preventing a Dirty Hedgehog: Bathing

Keeping a hedgehog clean is essential, especially if it is in a cage. A hedgehog should be bathed at least every two months.

Hedgehogs have different personalities, just like humans, so some hedgehogs will clean more regularly, and some will be lazier. If your hedgehog is relatively clean, you can get away with only bathing it once every three months, but it is up to you to determine how often your hedgehog needs a clean.

While hedgehogs may clean themselves and try their best to self-clean, they often miss certain spots or can’t get to some dirt under their quills. As pets, hedgehogs need a bath to clean away any of the dirt that they cannot reach.

Preventing a Dirty Hedgehog: Bathing Steps

As you’ve learned, bathing is essential to do every once in a while if you have a hedgehog. It’s important to know these five steps to give your hedgehog a proper clean to make sure it never gets dirty!

The first step to clean your hedgehog is to make a shallow bath, around 1cm to 2cm deep, of lukewarm water, not hot! Lower your hedgehog face up into the tub and give him a few minutes to soak before you start the cleaning.

The next step is to take some baby shampoo and rub it very gently over your hedgehog’s back, legs, and quills. Keep the shampoo far away from your hedgehog’s face as it can irritate their eyes, nose, ears and mouth.

After the shampoo is on, take a soft bristle toothbrush and gently scrub your hedgehogs’ quills in the direction of the quill growth. Be gentle but thorough as dirt can often be trapped under the hedgehogs’ quills.

Now that your hedgehog is all clean, you can rinse it off thoroughly so that no soap remains. Make sure to use new, clean, warm water when rinsing.

Lastly, it is crucial to dry your hedgehog thoroughly by starting with a towel to remove most of the water. Afterward, you may use a hairdryer to make sure it is completely dry, but it is vital that the hairdryer is held at a distance and used on low heat.

Now your hedgehog should be sparkly clean!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, hedgehogs are not dirty animals; however, pet hedgehogs need weekly cage cleaning and a bath at least every two months to help them stay as clean as possible! Feces and urine should be removed from the cage daily as these are significant contributors to a dirty hedgehog.

Furthermore, hedgehogs can carry zoonotic diseases, but the appropriate diet and regular washing should help prevent the spread of these diseases!

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