The Complete Guide to Bathing for Hedgehogs

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Several questions keep coming regarding hedgehog bathing on forums. I always got intrigued by them as I thought it was quite simple. However, there were issues that I wasn’t aware of. Hence, I decided to research a bit and write this article to help myself and my audience out.

Do hedgehogs need baths?

Hedgehogs don’t need baths. They groom themselves quite regularly. In case you do, don’t do it often[1] as they do not bath in the wild. In the wild, they walk a lot, and rub themselves to get clean.

As hedgehogs love to play with their poop, they become messy all the time. People get freaked out and bathe them quite often, which is not suitable for hedgehogs at all. In the next few paragraphs, we’ll tell why.

How often do hedgehogs need baths?

Hedgehogs should only be bathed when necessary. Some hedgehogs are quite messy, and they need baths often while others clean them up well.[2] Hence, they do not need to be put into water that often.

Common advice from many is to bathe your hedgehog once a month. That should be the maximum as bathing often can lead to dry, flaky skin.

Young hedgehogs are messier than adult ones and hence can be bathed more often say twice a month. But, not more than that.

Hedgehogs do not like bathing or water. Hence, do that only when it is essential.

What about hedgehogs with dry skin?

Hedgehogs with dry skin should not be frequently bathed as it can take away the remaining moisture and make the skin even drier.

You can also include vitamin E oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, or coconut oil drops in their baths to increase the moisture of their skin. Oatmeal baths are also an excellent option for dry-skin hedgehogs.[3]

Humilac topical spray is also recommended as a treatment of the dry, flaky skin.

Are there other options besides bathing?

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There are other options besides bathing the hedgehog. A common one is to provide them with a dust bath or sand baths. This is quite a controversial topic in the community.

Sand bathing is quite common in European countries for hedgehogs, but it is not acceptable to many in the United States. There are assumptions that sand could damage their lungs and people cases in Canada as their evidence.[4]

To sand bath your hedgehog, you don’t need to do anything besides putting a sandbox and some sand in it. The hedgehog will automatically play with it and, by doing so, will rub off all the poop and other stuff with the sand.

Often chinchilla sand is recommended as the best for this purpose, but many are against it since it is quite fine with tiny particles that could get into and damage the hedgehog’s organs.

You can use reptile sand or play sand as an option. Both of these have thicker particles.

However, most of the users prefer bathing their hedgehogs than experimenting with sand bathing.

How do you bathe a hedgehog?

To bathe the hedgehog, make sure they have not just woken up. Give them time to relax and do their stuff (at least an hour) before taking them for the bath.

You can bathe your hedgehog in your sink or a Tupperware box with ample space.

Let’s start the steps one by one.

1. Warm the water to a slightly warm temperature.

It should be close to room temperature. Use your finger to test the water before putting the hedgehog in.

2. Create a good walking ground for the hedgehog using a cloth or some sort of pavement to stand on.

Doing this will definitely lessen the anxiety of the hedgehog while you are bathing him.

3. Fill up the water to a height of 1 inch or two.

4. Put some drops of oatmeal baby shampoo.

Do not put more than two drops as it would be harder to rinse in the future steps.

5. Slowly put in the hedgehog through their backside.

This will help them anticipate what is coming.

6. Let them walk a bit and then start pouring water on them.

This will allow the shampoo to take their dirt and feces away from the body.

7. Use a soft brush (preferably old, of no use) to clean their quills.

They may get frightened as they do not like the sensation of this new object on their quills. Hence, do it as quickly as you can and then clean using normal non-soapy water.

8. Keep pouring the water on them to completely remove the shampoo from their body.

9. After a few rinses, change the water with a fresh one and do a few more normal water rinses.

This will help in completely removing the shampoo from their body.

10. Use a no-loops towel to clean them thoroughly.

Make sure they are completely dry before you put them back in the cage. Do not rub them hard with the towel, or it may take away the moisture. Just cover them with the towel,

Note: Hedgehogs can freak out if you turn the tap on in front of them. Hence, some people recommend removing the hedgie while the tap is on.

Besides the regular bath, a foot bath is also necessary and should be done quite often. In fact, a lot of people clean the feet of their hedgehogs daily.

Do hedgehogs need a foot bath?

Hedgehogs play on wheels a lot, and they poop a lot as well. Hence, regular foot baths are essential to keep them clean and healthy. Young hedgies need foot baths more often than adult ones.

You can bathe their feet almost every day. There are no restrictions on foot bathing.

How to do a hedgehog foot bath

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Compared to the full bath, foot bath doesn’t require that much water. Make sure the water only covers their feet else; they may dunk and get water in their ears and nose. This is especially important for young hedgies as they are more prone to pneumonia than older ones.

The water should be lukewarm and should be slightly above room temperature.

You do not have to add in any shampoos or soaps to clean their feet. Just let them walk for some time in the water and once the water becomes dirty, change it until you are comfortable with the situation of their feet.

It is also an excellent time for bonding.

Once the muck is completely out of their feet, dry them using a no loop towel. You should cover them with a towel and not rub them with it.

At what age can you bathe a hedgehog?

Hedgehogs as young as 5 to 6 weeks are capable of taking a bath. Once they are weaned, bathing is completely fine as that would not bother their mothers.

You should start with a foot bath, so they become comfortable with water. Hedgehogs generally do not like to be in the water.

Also, make sure their face stays out of the water. They are new to this and can dunk their faces down due to fear. Keep a finger under their chin to save any such accidents.

What soap to use for bathing a hedgehog?

Shampoos or soaps used to wash hedgehogs should be tear-free, so they don’t hurt their eyes when they dunk in the water. They should also be soft for the skin and should not contain any scents.

Recommended products:

Products like Johnson’s baby shampoo should be avoided. Anything scented can disturb hedgehogs.

Related Questions

Q: How to identify dry skin in hedgehogs?

A: Dry skin in hedgehogs is easily identifiable if there are dry skin remnants near the area where the hedgehog sleeps. Also, dry skin is fairer than normal skin. Normal skin is close to the black color.

Q: What to use to wash hedgehog laundry?

A: Normal brands like tide would be fine but make sure the detergent and the softener do not contain any dye and are scent-free.

Q: After the bath, my hedgehog has flakes on the skin. What happened?

A: When shampoo is not thoroughly cleaned out of the hedgehog’s skin, flakes can happen. Rinse thoroughly to save yourself and the hedgy from such situations.

Q: My hedgehog is itchy! Does he need a bath?

A: Itchiness is a sign of mites in hedgehogs. You should clean your hedgehog to avoid mites. Also, visit your vet if you are too concerned.

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