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How to Bathe Pet Hedgehogs (Step by Step)

How to Bathe Pet Hedgehogs (Step by Step)

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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. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Getting a pet hedgehog can be exciting. They’re tiny, adorable, and quite spiky, but don’t let the spikes scare you. While they can be sharp, the hedgie is very friendly and playful.

Hedgehogs can be messy, especially when they’re self-anointing. They can get dirty and stinky from time to time, and a key part of caring for your hedgie is to bathe it on a regular basis.

This begs the question, how to bathe hedgehogs?

Let’s take a look at how to bathe a hedgehog and how you can minimize the frequency of baths.

Do Hedgehogs Need Baths?

Pet owners consider hedgehogs as one of the lowest maintenance pets out there. Although infrequently, they still need baths from time to time.

Depending on how old your pet is and how active it is, its bathing routine will vary. A hoglet will usually be more playful and messier than an adult hedgehog.

Most of the time, a hedgehog can bathe itself. But if your spikey friend’s getting too muddy for the house, it’s advised that you bathe your hedgehog once a month.

If your pet’s messy, you can bathe a hoglet up to two times a month. Limit bathing to when it’s absolutely necessary.

Bathing your hedgehog too often can be bad for your pet. They have sensitive skin that can dry out easily. Too many baths can cause rashes and flaky skin.

When you decide to bathe your pet, it might not be the relaxing evening you hoped for. Besides the bathing not being good for their skin, hedgehogs also hate water. They can struggle and try to escape.

How to Bathe Your Pet Hedgehog

Time to bathe your pet hedgehog? Here are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Shopping for Supplies

Hedgehog baths can be pretty messy and chaotic. So, before you start one, you’ll need a few supplies:

  • Plastic container
  • Soft Toothbrush
  • Soap
  • Washcloth
  • Towel
  • Baby nail clippers

The plastic container doesn’t have to be anything special. It could be old Tupperware that you don’t use anymore.

Just make sure that it’s big enough to fit your hedgehog comfortably. Your spikey friend will move and splash a lot, so take that into account and use a deep container.

You can do it in the sink or in the bathtub. The biggest issue with that is that you have a lot less control. The sound of running water can also be scary to the little fellow.

Buy a new toothbrush specifically for the job. Don’t use an old one. Even if you haven’t used it in a while, an old toothbrush can contain bacteria that can cause a rash.

You’ll want a soft toothbrush with long bristles.

It’s a good idea to press the bristles on a hard surface before you use them on the pet. This can help soften the edges of the bristles to stop them from scratching the animal.

Soap choice is also important. The easiest way to make sure your soap is safe is to buy it from the pet store.

Hedgehogs have very sensitive eyes and skin. So, as an alternative to pet shampoo, you can use a scent-free, tear-free shampoo.

Some baby shampoos are safe to use, but make sure you read the ingredient list well. Oatmeal shampoo is the go-to answer for many hedgehog owners.

Spread out all your supplies in a way so that you can reach all of them without having to leave the area.

Although hedgehogs are good swimmers, you should never leave them alone in a body of water. They could tire out and drown if you leave them for too long.

Step 2: Choosing the Time to Bathe Your Hedgehog

Hedgehogs can be temperamental. Since they hate water, picking the right time for a bath is crucial.

Bathing them when they’re in a bad mood will end badly for everyone involved. Avoid bathing them when they’ve just woken up.

Instead, try right after a big meal. They’re going to be more relaxed and willing to cooperate. It’s also always a good idea to have treats handy throughout the process.

Step 3: Setting Up the Bath

To start off the bath, make sure your container’s clean. Don’t use heavy-duty cleaners, they can be harsh and irritating to the hedgehog’s skin. Use hand soap instead.

Place your washcloth at the bottom of the container. Even it out and make a flat surface.

This will give the hedgehog something for its nails to grip to. Without it, the bath will be a slippery event.

The cloth should be soft and free of holes. The hedgehog’s tiny feet and spikes can get stuck in the cloth if it’s full of holes.

Fill the container with two to three inches of warm water, don’t use a lot of water. You don’t want your hedgehog to have to swim or struggle to catch its breath.

The water shouldn’t be warmer than room temperature. Use your fingertips to test the water.

Tap water should be fine here. You can use distilled water, but it’s unnecessary.

Add a few drops of your soap. Don’t let it bubble too much.

Excessive bubbles can make it harder for you and your pet to see what’s going on. The hedgehog can also try to eat it, which is never a good idea.

Step 4: Cleaning the Skin

Gently place the hedgehog in the container, back first.

After you let them go, give it a minute or two to adjust. Allow the hedgehog to walk around and get used to its new environment.

This can take a couple of minutes, but a calm hedgehog is much easier to bathe than a scared one.

Start by pouring a small amount of water on them. Do this slowly, pouring from the back, and work your way to the head.

If your hedgehog gets alarmed, give them a minute to get comfortable again. Don’t keep going if the furball doesn’t calm down.

The water should wash away most of the dirt, and other things stuck on the skin. That should get the skin nice and ready for soap.

Squeeze a pea-sized amount of soap onto your hands. Applying the soap directly to the pet might cause it to panic. It’ll also get between the spikes and make it harder to reach.

Lather up the soap between your hands. This will help warm it up.

Rub the soap on the soft furry areas, like the underbelly. Try to avoid their eyes, nose, and ears as best you can. Then take out your toothbrush and gently go over the entire surface.

Step 5: Cleaning the Spines

Use the toothbrush for this part. Lather more soap onto the toothbrush. Going with the grain, scrub the spines.

The area where the spines meet the skin is extra sensitive. Scrubbing too hard or in the wrong direction could give your pet a rash.

Step 6: Cleaning the Feet

When you get to their feet, give them a little extra attention. Hedgehogs’ feet are special. The skin covering the feet is tougher than the skin on the rest of the body.

Since they spend most of the time on their feet in their exercise wheel, it’s going to have layers of dirt covering it.

Use your toothbrush to scrub the feet. You can be a little more vigorous with the scrubbing here, but be careful not to hurt your pet.

This is an excellent opportunity for you to check your hedgehog’s legs. Hedgies can get hairs and loose threads caught in their feet. If not removed, they can cause your furball to stumble and fall.

It’s also a great way for you to bond with your pet. Playing gently with its feet can be fun for both of you.

With the feet being tougher, you can wash them more often. If you have an extra messy hedgehog, you can safely wash their feet daily. But only wash the feet. Make sure not to get any water on the surrounding skin.

You’ll find that as your spikey friend gets older, they tend to need fewer foot baths. They get better at cleaning them on their own.

Step 7: Rinsing and Drying Your Hedgehog

After you’ve made sure your spikey friend’s spotless, you can rinse them off.

Empty out the container and get fresh water. Use water sparingly, only use it to get rid of any visible suds.

Dry your hedgehog off using the towel. Try to do this as fast and as gently as possible. Too much rubbing can lead to skin irritation.

If you want to avoid this step, you can use a hairdryer with a cool air setting.

When toweling off your hedgehog, make sure they’re completely dry. Any moisture left on the skin can cause chafing.

If you want to treat and pamper your pet, this is the time to do it!

Massage a little vitamin E oil onto their skin. This will soften it and add a little moisture back into the skin.

Other than vitamin E oil, you can use coconut oil or even olive oil.

This is especially helpful if your pet has really dry skin. You can also use humilac topical spray to help with this issue.

Hedgehogs are particularly sensitive to temperature, so it’s a good idea to have a snuggle sack ready. You can even warm it in the microwave for a few seconds to make a warm pocket for your hedgie.

Step 8: Trimming Your Hedgehog’s Nails

It’s usually best to let a professional animal groomer or a vet handle the nail trimming. But if you don’t have the time and the hedgehog keeps scratching you, it’s possible to do it at home.

Right after a bath is the best time to trim your hedgehog’s nails. The warm water will soften the nails and make them much easier to trim.

Push the fur back off the nails as far as you can. You want to make sure you can see the whole nail before you start trimming. Using the baby nail clippers clip off the sharp end of the tip.

Clipping too much off can hurt the nail. If you do and it starts bleeding, use a blood-stopping powder and call your vet.

Do Hedgehogs Take Dust Baths?

A great alternative to bathing your hedgehog with water is a dust bath. A dust or sand bath is a box filled with sand.

Hedgehogs love the sand and will want to play with it. While playing, they’ll scrub themselves, cleaning off any mud or poop.

The biggest advantage of this is that your hedgie can use it as often as they like without drying out their skin. You also don’t have to do much. Set up the box and they use them independently.

However, some hedgehog owners have suggested that it might be dangerous. Because dust particles are so small, your pet can breathe them in.

This could lead to lung damage or organ failure. But this only happens if you use really fine sand.

There are a couple of options when it comes to the type of sand you can use for the bath. The most commonly used for hedgehogs are reptile and chinchilla sand.

They’re made of organic materials and are less likely to irritate your pet. They’re also made of thick sand particles. Make sure to buy dust-free sand from the pet store.

Don’t use sand from your backyard. Often, bacteria from animal droppings will contaminate it.

This is a simple and easy way for your pet to play and clean itself while you sit back and relax.

Dry Skin in Hedgehogs

When you involve water, some of your hedgehog’s skin will probably dry out a little. Usually, this isn’t a big deal and you can fix it quickly.

Healthy hedgehog skin is smooth and dark. Dry skin will be flaky and pale.

Clean the dry area gently, then rub a few drops of olive oil into the skin. Do this as many times as needed to get the skin moisturized and back to its healthy state.

Check out this awesome YouTube video to learn more about dealing with dry hedgehog skin.

Minimizing Baths

Because they dry out the skin, water baths have to be short and limited, while dust baths can be dangerous if you don’t use the right type of sand.

So, if you want to minimize the number of baths your hedgehog takes, there are a few things you could try:

Keeping the Cage Clean

Hedgehogs are active creatures. They love to run around on their tiny feet all day, especially if you give them an exercise wheel.

If the cage and wheel are dirty, the hedgehog will get messy no matter how many baths you give them.

Cleaning out the cage regularly will ensure that you need as few baths as possible.

Giving Them Towel Baths

Another alternative to regular baths is a towel bath. The main difference is that you use much less water.

Soak a soft towel in some room temperature water. Then, wring it out to get rid of all the excess water.

Hold the tiny hedgie firmly in your hand, but not too hard. After that, it’s as simple as gently scrubbing the dirt off using the towel and your hands.

Identifying When They Need Baths

The best way to minimize baths is to know when your hedgehog needs one.

Most of the time, your hedgehog’s better left alone. All they really need is a quick walk through an inch of water to rinse off most of the dirt.

Signs that your pet needs a bath aren’t subtle. You’ll know because the hedgie stops being able to balance itself when running around.

Because of their curious nature, sometimes hedgehogs will get into something smelly. This is the only other time you should consider baths.

If your pet’s itchy, that doesn’t mean they need a bath. Itching can be a sign of mites, even if you keep the pet clean.

Pay a visit to your vet if you suspect mites. It’s usually not dangerous, but they can prescribe medication to get rid of them.

Final Thoughts

Hedgehogs are great pets to have. They can be messy, but if you know how to take care of them, it should be no problem.

However, when your hedgie’s dragging dirt around your house, you’ll ask how to bathe hedgehogs.

There are a few ways you can clean off your pet. You can use water, dust, or towel baths.

A water bath should get your pet clean, but there’s always the risk of drying out the skin. They can also take a while to set up.

Dust baths are great if you don’t have the time to bathe the hedgehog. Just give them a sandbox and they’ll do all the work.

It’s advised that you keep baths to a minimum. To do that, you have to be able to identify when your hedgehog needs a bath.

Hedgies will only need baths in two cases. Either they’re stinky, or they’re covered in so much dirt they can’t walk straight.

Other than that, it’s probably best to let your pet clean itself.

Since they spend most of their time in the cage, it’s always a good idea to keep it clean.

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