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Hedgehog FAQ [4/7] - Hedgehogs as pets
Section - <6.5> Any suggestions on bathing, cleaning ears, and clipping nails?

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [4/7] - Hedgehogs as pets
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Some of the literature I've seen suggests that you should not bathe a
hedgehog unless it is absolutely necessary, because there is a chance of
drowning.  This is especially critical for babies and young animals.
However, I have been told by several hedgehog owners that not only is it not
a problem to bathe adults, but that they can often enjoy swimming in a pan or
tub of shallow water (preferably on a warm day).

If you do bathe your little friend (say, because your hedgehog got into
something he shouldn't have), you must make very sure he has a warm, dry
place with no draughts to dry off in (after you do your best to dry him off
with a towel first).  The bath water should be shallow enough for the
hedgehog to be able to stand and keep his nose safely above the surface, and
should be at room temperature, not warm or cool.  One good thing about
hedgehogs in water is that rather than quilling up, they generally put their
quills down smooth, and for the majority who dislike baths, concentrate on
trying to get out.  It's probably best to just gently lower the piggy hog
into the water and slip your hand out from underneath.  As far as shampoo
goes, if you really must use one, make sure it is formulated for pets,
preferably something like puppies or kittens, which will ensure it is very
mild and safe.  Make sure you don't get any shampoo into their ears or eyes.
I find using an old toothbrush works well to work the shampoo into the
quills.  Finally, make sure that you rinse him thoroughly, so that there is
no soap left on him, then as mentioned above, dry him completely and ensure
he stays warm enough.  One quick warning: do NOT use a hairdryer -- this is
almost guaranteed to leave your hedgie severely stressed (besides, if he was
that fashion conscious, he wouldn't have gotten into this mess in the first

It is occasionally necessary to clean their ears.  This is best done by a
Q-tip moistened with mineral oil.  It is also preferable to have a patient
(or is that tolerant) hedgehog.  If you do clean their ears, you must be very
careful.  Also, see section [8.3] on tattered or ragged ears.

Hedgehog nails can get quite long and if your hedgehog doesn't manage to wear
them down naturally, they may need to be clipped.  As with any health related
concern, the best cure of all is prevention.  It is likely a good idea to
provide your hedgehog with a rough surface like a flat rock that will work
like an emery board as he scurries around.  This may not guarantee you won't
have to clip his nails, but it can certainly help.

Okay, let's say your attempt at a natural manicure doesn't do the job -- how
do you go about doing it the hard way?

    Hedgehogs' nails do, indeed, need to be trimmed occasionally.  The 
    crescent-shaped nail clippers that are used for dogs [and cats] work 
    well.  The hard part, of course, is getting to the nails---you have to 
    seize the hog's foot and hold on for dear life, letting it struggle to 
    its heart's content.  It will put up a terrific fight, but it won't hurt 
    -- Nathan Tenny

Here's another great idea, especially if your hedgehog is open to bribes, and
not too nervous:

    I've found this idea for ferrets works well for hedgehogs: take their 
    favorite treat (hopefully in a semi-liquid form so they have to lick it) 
    and put it on their belly. They have to stick their little paws to the 
    side to lick the treat off of their belly and while they're distracted, 
    just quickly trim their nails! I usually trim their nails around bath 
    time (both ferrets and hedgehog) so having a messy belly isn't much of a 
    -- Zack Lessley

I'm not sure if that would work with my hedgies, but it sounds like it would 
be throughly entertaining at the very least.

It's a good idea to keep something nearby to stop potential bleeding when
clipping hedgehog nails, just in case you accidentally cut too close to the
quick and find your little friend bleeding.  Given how profusely hedgehogs
can bleed, it can become quite a scary situation.

There are a variety of things that work well for stopping the bleeding.  One
is an ``antiseptic first aid cream'' made by Hagan for just this purpose.  It
stops bleeding and coats the injury, and worked extremely well when we had to
use it.

There is also a powder called ``Quick-Stop'' designed exactly for this
purpose, that apparently works very well.  Many pet stores will carry it at
or near where nail clippers or grooming supplies are kept.

Steve Turpin has passed along the following tip, that you can also use
cornstarch to stop bleeding quickly and painlessly, and is often available
when other things might not be.

By the way, speaking of painless, or not.  I have it on good authority that
Quick-Stop hurts like #$%! if you're foolish enough to try it yourself
(fortunately, I wasn't -- I have much too low a pain threshold for that).

Now, what you do about doctoring your hands (which, no doubt, have been
severely prickled) is beyond me... :-) This is probably one of the few times
that sometimes justifies wearing gloves while handling your hedgehog, but
keep in mind that you should avoid gloves any other time unless absolutely
necessary [4.6].

Rather than always trimming nails, there are some things you can do to try
and help wear them down naturally.  There are some suggestions about using
fine sandpaper on the surface of wheels in section [5.6].  Another idea comes
from Kelly Hodge, along with tips on how to trim the nails:

    One suggestion:  get him a clay flowerpot.  I bought a clay flowerpot for 
    Jimmy for 36 cents and he LOVES it!  It is slightly bigger than he is, 
    and he sleeps in it all the time.  If I take him to visit friends, I MUST
    take his flowerpot in the travel cage.  He always scratches in the 
    flowerpot and this keeps his front claws quite short.  He doesn't scratch 
    nearly as much with the rear feet, so those claws are longer and I trim 
    them occasionally.  Hold him in your hand, fingers slightly spread.  
    When one of his legs falls through the fingers, clamp the fingers 
    together to trap the foot and have someone else clip the claws before he
    can snatch his foot back.  It helps to do this when he's sleepy, but be 
    warned, he may treat your hand as a porta-potty.
    -- Kelly A. Hodge

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
Hi, my hedgehog started running around her cage squealing so I took her out to see what was wrong. Her genital area was inflamed and she had open sores all around that area. I gave her a bath, but I'm really worried about her. Do you have any idea what this could be?
Thank you!

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [4/7] - Hedgehogs as pets
Previous Document: <6.4> What are good treats?
Next Document: <6.6> Biting and nipping

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