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Bathing and Hygiene

NOTE:  NEVER leave your hedgehog unattended in water.  Even the best swimmers can have an off day and it could result in tragedy.

FOOT BATH - This is safe as often as needed.  When hedgehogs run the wheel, they poop.  Just a fact of owning a hedgehog.  An inch of lukewarm water for the hedgehog to walk around in will usually clean away the mess.  If it has been more than a day since the last cleaning, you may need the help of an old toothbrush or equivalent to get the feet clean.

FULL BATH - Over-bathing a hedgehog can cause dry skin problems.  Each bath washes away the natural oils on their skin and causes dry, itchy, flaky skin which can make your hedgehog grumpy and possibly lead to skin infections.  If your hedgehog has obvious soiled spots on them, bathe them.  If they have an odor, bathe them.  If it has been more than a month or they need a nail trim, bathe them.  Otherwise, skip the bath.

Proper bathing begins with a sink, tub, or container that is appropriately sized.  There should be enough room for the hedgehog to walk/swim around a bit but not so big that he/she can get out of your reach.  You need to be able to reach and pick them up at a second's notice should they start to struggle or go under the water.
Water temperature should always be lukewarm.  Cold water can cause shock, and hot water can cause scalding.  Take a moment to run the water and get it to the correct temperature before doing anything else.  Check the water on your wrist or forearm to ensure that the temperature is proper before placing the hedgehog in it.  Once the water is running at the correct temperature, you can then place the hedgehog in (and stopper if necessary) and begin raising the water level.
Shampoo/Soap is rarely needed and can cause eye and skin irritation.  If you absolutely need shampoo, please choose a product that has no dye or fragrance.
Brushing while they soak is suggested to remove any debris, dead skin, or to thoroughly clean soiled areas.  An old toothbrush is very helpful and manicure/nail brushes work great also.
Rinse, rinse, rinse!  You need to ensure that you have removed all debris, and if you've used any kind of shampoo it needs to be thoroughly removed.  Faucet sprayers are great for this.
Towel time is very important.  Placing a wet or damp hedgehog into its enclosure can encourage fungal or bacterial growth on the skin and in their enclosure.
Once your hedgehog is completely dry you can place them back into their nice clean home and allow them to rest.
Remember your hedgehog basically just "worked out" and will need a little time to unwind and recuperate.

TIP:  The very best time to trim nails is while a hedgehog is in the bath.  If you are slow and gentle you can typically grab a foot very lightly and snip those nails without too much fuss.

PRO TIP:  After bathing your hedgehog should always be put into a clean enclosure.  A suggestion is to clean the enclosure and all supplies before bathing so that, once they're dry, you can just take them to their home.  Your hedgehog will thank you for it.

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