Bathing Your Hedgehog

James BrennanBlog

May 12, 2019 / HEALTH

BATHING YOUR HEDGEHOG

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Many hedgehogs love to play in warm water and will enjoy themselves during bath time.

Other hedgehogs may not like the water at all, but bathing a dirty hedgehog is a necessary part of overall wellbeing of the animal.

Often times, starting bathing at an early age can make it less stressful when your hedgehog gets older. 

Even though hedgehogs are good swimmers, one should never leave a hedgehog unattended while in the water.

Frequency

Hedgehogs are not self grooming like other mammals. You will know your hedgehog is ready for a bath when it looks dirty, has dry skin, "poop boots", or anointed spots of dried matter. Once a month bathing is adequate for the average hedgehog. Some hedgehogs need baths frequently and others seldom need one. Bathing generally helps to relieve dry skin; however, bathing too frequently may contribute to dry skin.

Suitable Bath Tubs

Common places to give hedgehogs a bath are in a sink, dishpan, infant bathtub, laundry sink, or a bathtub. Hedgehogs are prone to relieve themselves in the warm water so it is a good idea to select a place that is easy to disinfect and that does not come in contact with food. Some owners prefer to have a dishpan or tub that is used only for hedgehog bathing. Infant bathtubs usually have drains that are handy for draining dirty water.

What You Will Need
Make sure to gather all your needed supplies before you start. You will need soap or shampoo, a soft toothbrush, nail clippers, and a towel. Bath time is generally an ideal time to trim hedgehog’s nails, especially if you are dealing with a hedgehog that does not cooperate during nail trims. 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.

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. Some people like to make sudsy water to wash their hedgehogs, but we prefer plain water since there is a chance the hedgehog could take a drink of the water or get water in its nose or mouth, even with the most careful bathing practices.

Bath Products

Some veterinarians recommend only water, but most hedgehog owners use some type of bath product to help clean and soften the skin. Always watch the skin for signs of irritation to bath products. You can make homemade oatmeal soaks by placing a handful of oatmeal in a cheesecloth, baby wash cloth, Bounty paper towel, or panty hose and hold it under the warm, running water. Squeeze the oatmeal to release the milky-colored emollients into the water. Oatmeal soaks are great for dry, itchy, or irritated skin for both hedgehogs and humans! Even though many shampoos might be considered “safe” for hedgehogs, keep in mind most shampoos can actually be very drying to the skin. Bathing is a popular topic on hedgehog internet lists. Some suggestions I have read on the lists are very mild tea-tree bar soap, chamomile, oatmeal, or lavender soaps found at the health food store.

Technique

Some veterinarians recommend only water, but most hedgehog owners use some type of bath product to help clean and soften the skin. Always watch the skin for signs of irritation to bath products. You can make homemade oatmeal soaks by placing a handful of oatmeal in a cheesecloth, baby wash cloth, Bounty paper towel, or panty hose and hold it under the warm, running water. Squeeze the oatmeal to release the milky-colored emollients into the water. Oatmeal soaks are great for dry, itchy, or irritated skin for both hedgehogs and humans! Even though many shampoos might be considered “safe” for hedgehogs, keep in mind most shampoos can actually be very drying to the skin. Bathing is a popular topic on hedgehog internet lists. Some suggestions I have read on the lists are very mild tea-tree bar soap, chamomile, oatmeal, or lavender soaps found at the health food store.

Safety

Avoid getting water in the hedgehog’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth. No human or animal likes soap in his or her eyes, but in the event of an accident, tear-free baby shampoo is unlikely to cause harm. Hedgehogs that are not familiar with bathing or a swim could unintentionally aspirate water up their nose, which can certainly cause larger problems down the road. It is also important to keep ears as dry as possible and to dry them as good as possible after the bath. A warm, moist environment such as ears is a perfect place for fungus to grow.

Drying Your Hedgehog

Wrap your hedgehog up in a hand towel to soak up most of the wetness. Switch to another dry hand towel to help dry your hedgehog a little faster. Micro-fiber and micro-fleece towels work well to absorb moisture as well. Be sure too watch toenails so that they don’t get caught in the looped threads of most towels. For special hedgehog luxury, you can use machine or hair dryer warmed towels. Some people prefer to heat the towel with a hair dryer while the hedgehog is wrapped up inside. This is only safe if you are holding your hedgehog in your hand in the towel. It is very easy to burn your hedgehog with a hair dryer. Never use the dryer directly on your hedgehog even on a low setting. It is important to make sure the hedgehog is completely dry after its bath to prevent chilling.