Many people are intimidated by nail trimming, and almost all hedgehogs dislike it. Nevertheless, untrimmed nails impair normal walking, cripple your hedgie, or even grow into the pads of their feet. During bath time is the easiest way to trim nails. Carefully take one foot at a time, and clip each nail. You can use regular nail clippers, small manicure scissors, or the cuticle clippers. Other ways include wrapping your hedgie in a towel or blanket, or roll your hedgie on its back and grab a foot. If you have two people available, have one hold the hedgie and let a paw drop down between your fingers so the second person can grab it and clip.
DO NOT CUT too short as this will make them bleed. Use some cornstarch or flour to stop the bleeding. You can also use a commercially available styptic powder for pets, but they have been reported to cause stinging.
We do not recommend taking your hedgehog to the vet for a nail clipping unless it's absolutely necessary because there's always a risk in gassing an animal, but if they are already there for another reason, you can have them do it while your hedgie is under.
We also offer a nail clipping service of our own at a charge of $5, but do recommend that you give it a shot because your hedgehog will be most comfortable with you.
BATHING YOUR HEDGEHOG
A few quick things before we get into the easy steps. Hedgehogs are generally clean pets and do not have to be bathed often. Full baths where quills are being washed, should only happen once every 3 months. If the cage goes weeks without being cleaned then they should be bathed, but as long as you clean it or pick up after the hedgehog every few days they should be fine. In giving them too many baths you could cause them to get dry skin which can lead to many issues. Since we do live in a dry area it does not hurt to give your hog an oatmeal bath every now and again (every 3 months or so). Those instructions will follow the basic bath instructions.
**Note: if you notice your hedgehog vomiting on themselves and contorting their bodies in weird ways, do not be concerned. This is their natural process to clean themselves and they do it frequently.
If your hedgehog is asleep, wake him or her. Just like humans, hedgehogs tend to have to use the restroom when they first wake up so give them 5 or so minutes to wake up. In the meantime get your supplies (towel, soap, and toothbrush) ready and begin to draw the bath. For basic baths use warm water and a non or lightly scented soap, but not too much soap.
After you have given them enough time to wake up it is time for you to acquaint them with the water. 9 out of every 10 hedgehogs do not like bathes and will do what they can to get out of them. In other words, if you have seen the videos of them floating on their back and you are wondering why yours is not doing that, it just means that you have one of the ones that does not like getting a bath. Pick up your hedgehog and slowly lower them into the bath. If they are in a ball DO NOT put them in on their back. Try to get them to unball or lay them in on their side with their head out of the water. If they are unballed then put them in feet first.
When giving you hedgehog a bath, be careful not to get any water or soap in their noses or ears. This can cause severe infections.
Once your hedgehog is in the bath things are fairly simple from here. Well as long as you can keep them in the bath. Use a cup filled with warm water to pour on the back of the hedgehog. Then use a clean toothbrush to gently scrub your hedgehog’s quills. After you are satisfied with your scrub job you can then rinse your hedgehog off with a cup of warm, fresh water. For foot baths just fill the water enough to cover their feet and use a toothbrush to scrub off the poop.
After you have scrubbed and rinsed off your hedgie you can now bring them out of the bath. Make sure to put them straight into a dry towel. Do what you can to dry them off, but most of the time the hedgehog won’t like this too much. The easiest way to ensure that they get dry and give you more time to bond is to sit down with them in the towel and just relax for a while. This will allow them to be dry. NEVER put your hedgehog back in its cage wet or try and dry them with a blow dryer. Not only will it get their bedding wet but it can cause dry skin problems. This concludes the basic bathing instructions.
OATMEAL BATHS FOR DRY SKIN
This is a fairly easy process and does not require much more work than regular baths.
Only Step different from regular bathing
Put about a cup of plain, unflavored oatmeal into a blender or food processor and blend into a fine powder. Once you have blended it into a fine powder you simply pour the oatmeal into the bath and stir until mostly dissolved. Then follow the steps for a regular bath. Do not use oatmeal baths every time you give them a bath otherwise you will end up with an oily hedgehog, which has its own set of health problems. Only recommended once out of every 4 times you bathe them.
It is a good idea to find a vet that will see hedgehogs first and foremost, and don't be afraid to ask questions. There is a member-generated list of hedgehog-experienced vets at www.hedgehogwelfare.org.
You can schedule your first exam shortly after your hedgie comes home so your regular vet will have a baseline history to go by (should your hedgehog get sick later). If the hedgehog is experiencing tummy troubles, be sure to bring a fresh, still wet, fecal with you when you go in to check for parasites. You can expect your vet to weigh your hedgehog and check for any outward signs of illness, such as quill loss, discharge from the eyes or ears, raggedy ears, and any obvious foot problems. They should also listen to your hedgie's heart and lungs, look in the ears, palpate the abdomen for any signs of masses and check in his/her mouth for any signs of dental problems or masses. Most hedgehogs will relax enough after a few minutes to have this done without the use of anesthesia. Anesthesia should be used as a last resort and in emergencies only. If your vet is uncomfortable handling a hedgehog without anesthesia, you should find a new vet! Your vet should also discuss with you how your hedgehog is housed and what you're feeding it and any concerns you may have regarding their care. If you are living in an area around Rapid City we highly recommend Canyon Lake Veterinary Hospital.