FAQ - Baths & Nails

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Always into something...
Jan 28, 2009
Bowling Green, KY
Written by jandshyne:

Bath Time and Nail Clipping Time: It’s a given at some point during the course of your hedgehog companionship you will be faced with bathing and nail clipping. The easiest way to achieve the intended result is to clip nails while bathing. Hedgehogs will not ball up in the water so grabbing a foot and clipping the nails (already softened by warm water) is a great way to clip your hedgehog’s nails. To bathe your hedgehog fill a sink with about two inches of belly temperature water (their belly temperature not yours). Aveeno BodyWash with Colloidal Oatmeal or Aveeno Oatmeal Bath are great for hedgehogs, they have moisturizing properties to help alleviate dry skin, they have natural ingredients, and they are soothing. Pour a small amount in to the water and swirl it around until dissolved. Gently place your hedgehog feet first in to the water. Allowing them to play in the water for a few minutes as they get used to it is a good idea. Once they are used to the water you can take a small cup and pour water over their backs being careful to not get water in their nose. If your hedgehog has “poop boots” or poop on his feet from wheeling you can use a washcloth to gently cleanse the feet. If you want to get under the quills you can use a soft bristled tooth brush and a small amount of the body wash to clean down to the skin and give them a bit of a back rub. Once they’re all lathered up it’s the perfect time to grab that foot and clip the nails. The warm water will soften the nails and make the quick more prominent. Clip just above the quick, infant nail clippers are perfect for clipping hedgie nails. Once nails are clipped and hedgie is fully soaped up you can use the spray nozzle (if your sink is equipped with one) or the faucet nozzle to rinse your hedgehog clean. Be sure to get ALL of the soap off to prevent dry skin and soap build up. It’s a good idea to leave the nozzle running (especially if you have a dual kitchen sink) so the water is the right temperature and your hedgehog isn’t frightened by the sudden sound of running water. Make sure the water from the faucet is also belly temperature, too cold and your hedgehog could catch a chill and too hot and you could burn him.

Should you cut a nail too short and clip the quick don’t panic. It can bleed profusely but it’s not the end of the world. You should always have a styptic pencil or some quik stop handy just in case to stop bleeding. Hedgie quick’s bleed so much some vets use them to get blood samples on hedgies since they have such tiny veins. Edited to add, Quick stop and Styptic pencils sting. Flour or corn starch works well without causing pain. Dip hedgies foot in the flour or cornstarch and try to keep him calm for a minute. The bleeding should stop.

If you need to cut your hedgie’s nails and it’s not bath time, try letting them out on the counter to run, as they’re running away from you, gently grab a foot and clip those nails. You may only get one foot at a time and it may take you several days to get through it but you’ll get there. Most hedgies hate nail clippings the first couple of times but they learn fairly quickly to not be afraid of them. Playing with your hedgehog’s feet a lot during snuggle time is a good way to get them used to people touching their feet.

If all else fails you may have to take your hedgie to the vet and let them clip the nails under sedation. It’s much less stressful (not to mention cheaper) to get the hang of clipping them yourself though.

Some hedgehogs will never need their nails clipped, some will need them clipped regularly. If nails are allowed to grow too long they can actually curve and grow in to the foot pads making it very painful and requiring a surgical removal so please check your hedgehog’s nails periodically to ensure they are not becoming overgrown.

A flag stone or rock under the food dish or in the center of a wading pool (or your hedgehog’s free roam area) is a good way to keep nails naturally worn down. If they have to climb the rock or walk around it to get to their favorite treats or food dish it can help to wear those nails down.
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