Are Hedgehogs Clean or Dirty? Discover the Truth About Hedgehog Hygiene

The spines on a hedgehog’s back are made of the same material as human hair and nails, called keratin. The spines are hollow and made up of several layers, which provide insulation and protection. Hedgehogs have poor eyesight but can smell and hear very well.

Behavioral Characteristics

Hedgehogs are solitary animals and prefer to live alone. They are active at night and sleep during the day. Hedgehogs are generally not very social and may not like being handled or cuddled. They are also known to roll into a ball when they feel threatened, which can make them difficult to handle.

Hedgehog Hygiene

Maintaining proper hygiene for hedgehogs is important for their health and well-being. Here are some hygiene practices that you should keep in mind when caring for your hedgehog:


Contrary to popular belief, hedgehogs do not need frequent baths. In fact, bathing them too often can strip their skin of natural oils and cause dryness and irritation. However, it’s important to give them a bath once in a while, especially if they get dirty or start to smell.

When bathing your hedgehog, use warm water and a mild, unscented soap. Avoid getting water in their eyes and ears. Gently lather their quills and rinse thoroughly. After the bath, wrap your hedgehog in a soft towel and let them dry off before returning them to their cage.

Feet and Nail Care

Hedgehogs’ feet and nails require regular maintenance. Their nails can grow long and sharp, which can cause discomfort and even injury. Trim their nails every few weeks using pet nail clippers. Be careful not to cut the quick, which is the pink part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves.

You should also check their feet regularly for any signs of injury or infection. Hedgehogs can develop calluses on their feet from walking on hard surfaces, so make sure to provide them with a soft, comfortable bedding material.

Ear Cleaning

Hedgehogs are prone to ear infections, so it’s important to clean their ears regularly. You can use a cotton swab or a soft cloth moistened with a gentle ear cleaning solution to clean their ears. Be gentle and avoid going too deep into the ear canal to avoid causing damage.

Oral Hygiene

Hedgehogs can develop dental problems if their teeth are not properly maintained. Provide them with hard toys and chews to help keep their teeth clean and healthy. You can also brush their teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pet toothpaste.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Hedgehog?

As mentioned earlier, hedgehogs do not need frequent baths. The frequency of baths will depend on several factors, including their age, activity level, and overall health.

Determining Factors

Baby hedgehogs may need more frequent baths as they are still learning how to groom themselves. Hedgehogs that are overweight or have mobility issues may also need more frequent baths to help keep them clean.

Bathing Tips

When bathing your hedgehog, always use warm water and a mild soap. Avoid using products that contain fragrances or harsh chemicals. Make sure to dry your hedgehog thoroughly after the bath to prevent them from getting chilled.

Do Hedgehogs Have Any Odor?

Hedgehogs do have a natural body odor, but it’s not usually unpleasant. However, if their cage is not cleaned regularly, their urine and fecal odors can become strong and overpowering.

Natural Body Odor

Hedgehogs have scent glands on their feet and sides that produce a musky odor. This scent is normal and helps them mark their territory and communicate with other hedgehogs.

Urine and Fecal Odors

Hedgehogs can be litter box trained, but accidents can happen. Their urine and fecal odors can become strong if their litter box is not cleaned regularly. Make sure to clean their litter box at least once a day and replace the bedding material every few days.

How to Minimize Odors

To minimize odors, make sure to clean your hedgehog’s cage regularly. Remove any uneaten food, soiled bedding, and clean their water dish daily. You can also use a pet-safe odor neutralizer to help eliminate any lingering odors.

Do Hedgehogs Shed?

Hedgehogs do shed, but it’s not as noticeable as in other animals. They shed their quills throughout the year, but they do experience seasonal shedding in the fall and spring.

Seasonal Shedding

During seasonal shedding, hedgehogs may lose more quills than usual. This is a natural process and should not cause any concern.

How to Manage Shedding

To manage shedding, provide your hedgehog with a soft brush or comb to help remove loose quills. You can also offer them a warm bath to help loosen the quills. Make sure to keep their cage clean to prevent any quills from accumulating and causing an injury.

Common Hygiene Problems in Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs can experience several hygiene problems, including mites, fleas, and skin conditions.

Mites and Fleas

Hedgehogs are prone to mites and fleas, which can cause itching and skin irritation. If you notice your hedgehog scratching excessively, check for signs of mites or fleas. You can treat them using a pet-safe anti-parasite medication.

Proper Treatment for Skin Conditions

Hedgehogs can also develop skin conditions, such as dryness and flakiness. Use a gentle, moisturizing shampoo and avoid using any products that contain fragrances or harsh chemicals. If the condition persists, consult with a veterinarian for proper treatment.


In conclusion, hedgehogs are generally clean animals that require proper hygiene care. Bathing, feet and nail care, ear cleaning, and oral hygiene are all important aspects of maintaining hedgehog hygiene. While they do have a natural body odor and shed their quills, these can be managed through regular cleaning and hygiene practices. By following these tips and consulting with a veterinarian when necessary, you can ensure that your hedgehog stays healthy and happy. Remember, always provide a clean, comfortable environment for your hedgehog to thrive in.

ThePetFaq Team