How To Bathe A Hedgehog + Nail Trimming

There comes a time in every hedgehog’s life, that s/he is just too dirty, s/he can’t live with him/herself. S/he’s been wearing poopy boots for long enough. Not only are those stinky, they’re also not very fashionable. S/he really needs a bath.

Bath Time:

Hedgehogs, unlike many animals, do not clean themselves. Keeping your hedgehog clean is your responsibility.

The problem is hedgehogs don’t like water that much; some might even panic when given a bath. Placing a non-slip mat in the sink can help make them feel more secure. You’ll know it’s time to give your hedgehog a bath when:

1. Its skin is dry.

2. It’s wearing the not-so-fashionable poopy boots, i.e., it’s got poop stuck on its feet.

3. When it looks dirty.

But be careful, though. Too many baths cause dry skin. I wouldn’t recommend more than one bath a month.

If your hedgehog has poopy boots, try cleaning the cage more often to avoid having to give more baths.

If your hedgehog is dirty and needs more than one bath a month, try giving it an ‘oatmeal bath’. Oatmeal is great for dry skin.

Types Of Baths:

  1. Shampoo or Soap: You can use any pet shampoo or tear-free baby shampoo. People have different preferences when it comes to shampoo. Some breeders prefer Johnson’s and Johnson’s lavender baby wash and Aveeno oatmeal baby shampoo.
  2. Oatmeal washes: Instead of shampoo, you can make an oatmeal wash for your hedgehog. Oatmeal works wonders on dry skin. To prepare an oatmeal bath, put a handful of regular, non-instant oatmeal in a (clean) sock and place it under the warm water as you fill the sink. The water will be cloudy.
  3. Water-only Bath: Many breeders recommend against any shampoos or other products being used on hedgehogs. They recommend water-only baths.
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*Be sure to look for any irritations from the shampoo/soap you are using if you start using a new brand.

Supplies needed to bathe a hedgehog:

Bathing your hedgehog is so much easier if you gather your supplies before you start.

  1. Soft toothbrush
  2. shampoo/soap/regular, non-instant oatmeal
  3. Towel

Bathing a Hedgehog:

1. Gather the supplies.

2. Fill a sink with warm water. You shouldn’t use the kitchen sink because hedgehogs sometimes go to the bathroom while taking a bath.

The water should be up to your hedgehog’s armpits. Put your hand and wrist in the water to make sure it’s not too hot. Hands can stand more heat, so if it’s too hot on your wrist, wait for it to cool down. You can also use a baby bath thermometer.

3. Once the water is the right temperature, put your hedgehog in. Butt first. NEVER fill the sink while your hedgehog is in it. The risk of the water changing temperatures is high.

4. (Skip this step for oatmeal and water baths) Place a small amount of shampoo on your hands, lather, and rub gently over the hedgehog’s back, belly, and feet. Avoid the face, eyes, and nose. Don’t get shampoo in the face area.

5. Gently brush your hedgehog’s quills in the direction of the quills with the toothbrush to remove any tough dirt.

6. Take a cup and pour the warm water over your hedgehog until the all the soap is gone. Don’t pour the water over the face. If your hedgehog has very dry skin, you can add a teaspoon of olive oil to the water and pour it over the hedgehog. The oil doesn’t need to be rinsed off.

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7. Wrap your hedgehog in the towel and pat dry. Be sure not to let your hedgehog get cold. It’s difficult to completely dry hedgehogs under their quills. Keep your hedgehog indoors until completely dry.


Nail trimming:

The best time to trim your hedgehog’s nails is after a bath. The nails are softer and easier to trim.

Use baby nail clippers when trimming a hedgehog’s nails. If possible, have someone help you. One person should hold the paw (careful not to pull the paw or twist it) while the other person trims. If you don’t have anyone who can help you, keep the hedgehog against your body as you cut.

Only trim a little of the nail at a time. The reason for this is that the blood supply (kwik) to the nail grows as the nail grows. Cut off a little and the kwik will recede. If you accidentally cut too deep into the nail it will bleed, but not cause permanent damage.

If you neglect to cut your hedgehog’s nails, it leads to overgrown nails that curl into the hedgehog’s foot causing damage to the foot, abnormal walking, and infection.

And one more thing, just in case you were wondering, no you can not put nail polish on your hedgehog. 🙂

Now your hedgehog should be squeaky clean and ready to play. How do you bathe your hedgehog? Does s/he like taking baths? Let us know in the comments.


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  • Nicole says:

    I am hoping to get a hedgehog soon and I’m nervous that he/she won’t like bathing. If that’s true, will he/she bite or nip? And what could make he/she feel safer other than a bath mat?

    • adminlayla says:

      Hi, Nicole.
      There’s no need to be nervous. Hedgehogs may be uncomfortable at first in water, but after a while they get used to the water and feel safern making bath time go a lot smoother.
      Hedgehogs may bite sometimes if they’re scared, but it’s not very common; you can wear protective gloves if you wish.