With so many new people becoming interested in owning a pet hedgehog, there are naturally a lot of questions floating around.
Understandably, “Do hedgehogs smell bad?” is one of the most common ones we get. We’ve all heard warning stories of other types of pets that look adorable, but smell awful!
As cute as hedgehogs are, you don’t want a little critter in your house that’s going to stink up the place.
The weird thing is that there’s a lot of misinformation out there in response to a relatively simple question. Some people will say they do smell bad, others will say they don’t.
So which is it?
This quick guide will answer your question once and for all, and give you tips for keeping your hedgie smelling nice and fresh!
The Short Answer
So let’s address the question first: do hedgehogs smell bad?
Nope! They smell rather pleasant actually (thank goodness).
Hedgehogs are naturally pretty odorless animals. This means if you remove any environmental factors, they’ll never make much of a stink.
This isn’t to say you won’t smell anything if you get close to them, but we would never consider it a “bad” smell. Instead, it’s more of a comforting organic scent.
The main reason for this is they don’t possess scent glands. A lot of the super smelly pets and animals we all know of (like skunks or ferrets) have these glands. This means no matter how clean their habitat might be, these animals will always smell a little ripe.
Hedgehogs don’t have these glands which means they really couldn’t smell bad even if they wanted to!
Here’s The Catch…
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that. While hedgehogs don’t emit a stinky odor naturally, they’re very capable of smelling bad in the right (or wrong) circumstances.
Fortunately, the factors that influence this are all things that you control as the owner. That means, for the most part, if your hedgehog smells bad it’s on you!
What Makes Them Stink?
The most common cause for a stinky hedgehog is a dirty habitat.
Over time your hedgehog will go to the bathroom in their cage. Eventually, feces and urine will build up and create an unpleasant smell (as you can imagine).
So even though your hedgehog doesn’t smell bad on its own, their waste does. Their waste doesn’t smell exceptionally bad compared to any other animal (humans included), but it doesn’t smell like roses either.
If you neglect to clean their habitat regularly this means your hedgehog will be spending time in more and more waste. Since they’re animals they won’t think twice about marching through spots of urine or feces.
If this goes on long enough the smell of their waste will transfer over to your hedgehog, and they will begin to smell.
Quick Note: Male hedgehog urine typically smells worse than female urine. This means you might find yourself needing to clean more often if you own a boy hedgie.
Other Common Causes
There are a couple of other reasons why hedgehogs might smell bad.
Sickness or infection can cause your hedgehog to have an unpleasant odor or unusually stinky waste. This is due to a number of biological interactions that we don’t need to analyze in detail (nor want to).
If you’re on top of cleaning their cage and bathing them, and they still smell bad, your hedgehog might be sick. It’s likely nothing to panic about, but it’s usually smart to bring them to the vet just to be sure.
The other common cause of a stinky hedgehog is a bad diet. Nutritional deficiencies and overly fatty foods can both make a big impact on how bad their feces smells. Check out our food and diet guide to make sure they’re eating the right foods.
How To Stop Them From Smelling Bad
As you’ve probably guessed from the section above, there are a number of easy things you can do to make sure your hedgehog smells great. These are things that anyone can do, and should be done by everyone who owns a hedgehog (regardless of how worried you are about their smell).
Clean Their Cage
Performing regular cage cleanings is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your hedgehog never smells bad.
A quick spot clean each day will go a long way in making sure your hedgehog smells great and stays healthy too. Simply go through their cage and look for urine or feces spots to get rid of. It only takes a couple of minutes!
You should do a more thorough cleaning each week where you address their entire cage as well as the bedding and liner. Once you get a system down, this shouldn’t take a tone of time either.
**Important** Only use trusted wipes for cleaning to ensure that you’re not coating their cage with harmful chemicals. Here’s the brand we recommend to all owners.
Give Them A Bath
It’s always a good idea to give your hedgie a bath every couple of weeks. This will not only help them stay healthy and comfortable, but it will keep off any lingering smells they might pick up from their cage.
Some owners like doing a quick daily foot bath as well. The advantage of this is that it addresses the area on their bodies where they’re most likely to come into contact with their waste. This goes a long way in making sure your hedgehog never stinks, and they love it too!
Quick Note: Make sure you don’t skip the quills when cleaning them. They can carry an odor a lot more effectively than you realize!
Try Litter Training
If you want to go all the way, litter training is a great way to make sure your hedgehog doesn’t smell bad. This can be a challenging process and it doesn’t work 100% of the time, but if you can pull it off it will definitely make a big difference.
Simply by isolating the area where they go to the bathroom will cut down on the potential stink significantly. It also makes their cage even easier to clean!
Give Them The Right Foods
The foods your hedgehog eats will make a big impact on their smell. Fatty foods, a lack of nutrients, and snacks that are hard to digest can all make your hedgie a little bit stinky.
This is a relatively easy thing to fix. It’s all about finding a good resource (like our guide we linked to earlier) and sticking to it. Not only will this make your hedgehog smell better, but it will also improve their health and lifespan as well.
So there you have it. You now know the answer to the question, “Do hedgehogs smell bad?” and have the information you need to keep them smelling great.
Like we said, if your hedgehog stinks that means you’re likely doing something wrong. But if you follow our instructions both you and your hedgie will be a lot happier!
If you have any stories or tips on other ways to prevent hedgehogs from smelling, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always looking for more info we can use to improve our guides!