Giving your hedgehog a bath is an important part of being a responsible owner. While it’s not something you have to do frequently (hedgies are naturally pretty clean animals), neglecting it can lead to issues later on.
But how do you do it the right way? Due to their spines, these critters don’t look very bath-friendly.
Here’s the good news:
Hedgehog baths don’t have to be a struggle. By following some simple steps you’ll make the process a whole lot easier for both of you.
In fact, some hedgehogs love getting cleaned! If you’re one of the lucky owners with a hedgie who enjoys it, bathtime can be quite a fun experience.
This guide will show you how to bathe a hedgehog in a way that’s effective and easy. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be a pro!
Table of Contents
- What You’ll Need
- The Bath Process
- Don’t Go Overboard
- Foot Baths
- Final Thoughts
What You’ll Need
It’s important to have the right supplies before you give your hedgehog a bath. Getting everything together before you start will make the experience a whole lot easier and ensure that you get the job done right.
Sink Or Bathtub
This is where the bathing process will take place. We prefer to do this in the sink because it’s a little easier to manage everything and control the temperature of the water your hedgehog is standing in.
We’ve heard from owners that their hedgehog was spooked by the loud noise of the bathtub filling up. This meant whenever they needed to add more water or adjust the temperature they had to remove their pet (seems like a pain).
A nice soft washcloth is necessary too. This will be used as a comfortable place for them to stand in the sink. You can also use it to wipe off dirt that you find on the soft parts of their body.
It’s important to make sure the washcloth you use is well-made and not full of holes. Your hedgehog can get their feet or spines caught in a holey cloth which isn’t pleasant.
This will be your weapon of choice when it comes to giving your hedgehog a bath. You’ll be using it to clean their spines which are notoriously difficult to scrub with anything else.
Make sure it’s soft so you don’t cause any irritation or discomfort. Even though the spines are sturdy, the skin underneath is not!
Gentle baby shampoo is the way to go. It cleans effectively and won’t cause any irritation on their skin. We recommend the Aveeno oatmeal gentle wash below.
- 33-fluid ounce bottle of gentle cleansing Aveeno baby wash and shampoo with natural oat extract
- The rich lathering wash & shampoo formula rinses clean & leaves behind a light, fresh fragrance
- Formula is tear-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and phthalate-free
- Rinses clean without drying
Not much needs to be said here. A nice soft towel to dry them off is necessary.
It’s important to do a good job drying off your hedgehog after a bath because moisture can stick around in their spines and cause skin dryness. That’s why it’s a good idea for your towel to be soft.
The Bath Process
Now that you have all your supplies ready, it’s time to get the bathing process started. Once you’ve done it a few times it will become second nature.
1. Fill The Sink
Fill up your sink with warm water to start. Test the temperature with your hand to make sure it’s comfortable, but not too hot.
You’ll only need to fill up your sink 2-3 inches in order to give your hedgehog a bath. These creatures aren’t very tall so anything more than that will require them to swim to keep their head above water for a long period of time (not good).
Some owners like to check the temperature with a water thermometer so get maximum consistency. In our opinion, this is a little unnecessary since it doesn’t need to be perfect and you can easily tell if the water is too hot by hand. Feel free to do this if you want though!
2. Place The Washcloth On The Bottom Of The Sink
Take the washcloth and put it on the bottom of the sink. If it’s an average-sized cloth then you’ll probably want to fold it.
Pat it down so it forms a relatively smooth surface and isn’t going to float around. This will be where your hedgehog stands during the bathing process to help them have traction and feel a little more comfortable.
3. Put Your Hedgehog In The Sink And Give Them A Moment
Once you’ve put your hedgehog in the sink it’s a good idea to wait a minute or two before starting to clean them. This will allow them to adjust and become more comfortable before the bath begins.
A nervous hedgehog is WAY harder to bathe then a comfortable one. Trust us, this step matters.
4. Start Bathing!
Take some of the shampoo and lather it up in your hands a bit. Once you’ve done this you can start gently rubbing it on your hedgehog. This works a lot better than trying to apply the shampoo onto them directly and rubbing it afterword.
You’ll be spending a lot more of your time on the soft non-spine parts of their body during this step. Try to get as much on their spines as you can of course, but the soft furry areas will be what you focus on here.
Make sure you don’t get any shampoo in their eyes, mouth, nose or ears.
5. Brush Their Spines
Now it’s time for the spines. Take the soft toothbrush and lather a little shampoo onto that as well. You should already have some shampoo on their spines from the previous step, but this will make sure you didn’t miss a spot.
Gently brush their spines (going with the grain) from different angles. Remember that any unnecessary tugging can irritate the area where their skin and spines meet.
6. Rinse Them Off
This part is of the bathing process is very important. Lingering shampoo can lead to dry skin and irritation, so you want to be thorough.
We like to drain the sink and wash them with fresh warm water (make sure it’s not too hot) to make sure they’re totally clean. Having them stand in soapy water while you rinse them doesn’t make much sense.
7. Dry Them Off
Bathtime is over! Take a nice soft towel and gently dry them off. If you want to really give them the spa treatment throw it in the dryer for a few minutes before using it!
Try to get them as dry as possible without irritating or rubbing them too much. Remaining moisture can lead to dry skin.
Don’t Go Overboard
Hedgehog baths should only be done when needed. This isn’t something you should do once a week just for the sake of consistency.
The reason for this is it’s simply not necessary and can actually cause issues with their skin. Overbathing a hedgehog will lead to dry skin and potential issues with their natural oil production. These are not only uncomfortable but can affect their spines as well.
The best way to approach bathing frequency is to keep an eye on them. When they look dirty (this is an easy thing to notice) it’s time to give them a scrub.
It won’t take long to realize that their feet will get dirty faster than the rest of them. Hedgehogs are very active and will spend a lot of time moving around their cage or running on their exercise wheels.
This means there will be a lot of situations where their feet need to be cleaned, but the rest of their body is completely fine. Instead of subjecting them to the full process, a quick foot bath is all you need to do!
To do this, fill your sink with warm water and include a washcloth like normal and let them walk around! This should do the trick for most of the dirt, but their feet are particularly filthy use some shampoo and your brush to clean them.
The foot bath process only takes a second and will keep them comfortable and healthy!
Now you know how to bathe a hedgehog! Unlike a lot of other animals, cleaning a hedgie doesn’t have to be a big ordeal.
A lot of these critters actually enjoy getting a bath which makes the whole experience a lot of fun for everyone! And even if you have a hedgehog that’s not a fan, the whole thing will be over in a few minutes.
If you have any questions about hedgehog baths or tips we should include in this guide we’d be more than happy to hear from you.