Unlike most animals, hedgehogs are some of the worst self groomers. In fact, they don't groom themselves at all! They're also just messy animals in general, meaning you'll have to step up and take on the role as hedgehog groomer.
To make the bathing process as simple as possible, be sure to follow all the steps we talk about below. You'll want to take special care with the frequency of baths and the type of shampoo you use to avoid dry skin or irritation.
But don't worry, this isn't something you'll have to do incredibly often.
How Often Do Hedgehogs Need Baths?
Bathing your hedgehog will be necessary from time to time, but it's not something you'll be doing frequently.
At the most, you'll want to limit yourself to only bathing your hedgehog once per month. You'll bathe as necessary if they become noticeably dirty or if advised by your veterinarian for medical reasons.
In general, we bathe our hedgehog about every 1-2 months. This isn't a hard schedule, rather when we notice excess dirt/grime and can tell when they need it. There's no hard and fast rule, but you'll know when they need it.
Overbathing them can cause skin dryness, irritation, and disrupt their natural oil protection. Short little foot baths are more frequent and far less harsh on their skin, but we'll talk about the a little bit later.
What You'll Need Pre-Bath
You'll need to get a few things ready before you can even begin. If you have kids, you might be able to find most of this already sitting it one of your bathroom cabinets. The list includes:
- Tear Free Baby Shampoo
- Soft Brush
- Warm Water
What Shampoo Is Safe For Hedgehogs?
Hedgehog Safe Brush
To get in between their quills (or spines) you'll need a soft haired brush. There are plenty of different options for this whether is be a soft baby brush or a soft tooth brush.
We personally use a baby brush with soft goat hair bristles and it has worked incredibly well for us over the years.
Start by simply filling your sink with nice warm water. Testing the temperature with your hand is perfectly fine, it doesn't need to be exact. You'll just want it to be comfortably warm.
The water will be roughly 3 inches high, enough to cover the lower half of your hedgehogs body. Just make sure they can comfortably walk around without having to struggle to keep their head above water.
Place a simple wash cloth on the bottom of your sink. This will give them a bit of transaction to walk on once we put them in the bath. Also avoid putting any cleaners or soap into the sink for the time being.
Slowly Acclimate Hedgehog to Water
Place your hedgehog into the warm water and let them roam around for a bit. Most of our hedgehogs actually enjoy playing in the water and we like to give them a couple minutes to enjoy themselves.
Even our more temperamental hedgehogs open up a bit more and seem to really enjoy playing in the water.
After a few minutes of letting them acclimate we start to get ready for the actual bath.
First you'll want to get a couple squirts of the shampoo and lather it on your hands. You'll then start to gently rub the soap around your hedgehogs body.
You can gently rub their quills with the shampoo, but to begin you'll mainly want to focus on their soft furry belly, sides, and feet.
Try and avoid getting any soap on their face. The shampoo is tear free, but we don't want to get any soap in their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Gently Brush Quills
After getting their soft fur lathered in shampoo, we'll next move onto their quills. For this you'll need to grab the soft baby brush or soft tooth brush.
You can then begin by gently brushing going with the direction of their quills. Their quills should be laid back so this should be a fairly simple process.
The most important point is to just be gentle. The brush you use should be incredibly soft but you'll want to avoid irritating their skin as much as possible.
Rinse Off Any Soap
Now that were done cleaning their fur and quills, we can now rinse off any soap still on their body. Be thorough. We don't want any soap left behind which cause skin irritation and dryness later on.
We generally empty the sink of all the soapy water and rinse with running warm water. Just be careful to test the water with your hand first before to make sure its warm to the touch but not hot.
Dry Them Off
Now that your hedgies nice and clean we can take them out and get them nice and dry. You'll just want to grab a simple bath towel and wrap them up nice and cozy within the towel.
We usually sit their for a minute or while their wrapped up in the towel. After a minute we then begin by gently rubbing their fur to dry as much as possible.
Once you get them as dry as possible you're done!
Avoid Giving Baths to Frequently
I mentioned earlier, but you'll want to avoid bathing your hedgehog too frequently. Many hedgehogs already have issues with dry skin and bathing too frequently can make even worse.
Only bathe them as necessary...and you'll know when. At the most, limit bathing them to only once per month.
Unfortunately, your hedgehog isn't going to adhere to this monthly schedule. They love to run and burrow and may actually run several miles each night on their exercise wheel.
They also happen to poop, a lot! If they have a wheel (and they should) they'll be running through their own poop as the run. This will make cleaning their cage easier since all their poop is on the wheel. But it also gives them some pretty gross poop boots.
Instead of giving them a full bath, you'll want to provide a simple foot bath as an alternative. You'll simple fill your sink with a very shallow amount of warm water, just high enough for water to cover their feet.
Let them walkaround for about a minute or so and most of the poop should wash away. After a minute gently wipe off any remaining grime and dry them off.
There's no limit to how many foot baths you can give them, just try to keep it limited it to only when necessary.
Bathing your hedgehog shouldn't be some extravagant ordeal and can be done fairly easy. You'll simple need some simple baby shampoo, a soft brush, and a towel.
This can actually be a fun time for both you and your hedgehog. All of ours tend to enjoy their baths quite a bit and can make a great bonding experience for the both of you.
However, please limit these baths to only when necessary. If done too frequently it can be damaging to their skin. So use foot baths more regularly if you notice their feet getting gross but stick to full baths no more than once per month.
If you still have questions or are interested in learning more about getting a pet hedgehog, please contact us here.