Hedgehogs do a fairly good job of grooming themselves but sometimes, there are things they need help with. If you wish, you can bath your hedgehog. It should be done no more than every other week, preferably less than that. Here is what you will need.
Assemble the following items at your bathroom sink:
a gentle human body wash, preferably one with oatmeal (such as Aveeno oatmeal body wash)
a cup (unless you have a sink with sprayer hose)
a soft toothbrush
a towel at the sink or
something that will give your hedgehog better traction, especially in sinks – a piece of rubber shower matting, a towel or washcloth, a piece of fleece, etc. This can help calm a hedgehog that gets frantic about bath time.
Run an inch (no more!) of lukewarm water into the bathroom sink. Check the water temperature with the inside of your wrist – if it's too warm for your wrist, it's too warm for your hedgehog. Next, place a drop or two of the body wash into the water. Now, place your hedgehog gently into the water, hind end first, especially if they're balled up. You don't want your hedgehog to get water in their nose, which can lead to a respiratory infection. Wet them thoroughly by scooping water from the sink with the cup onto their back. Using the toothbrush, gently and slowly scrub their spines from front to back and in small circles, making sure not to get any of the soapy water in the eyes. Once their back is clean, reach underneath and wash the tummy by gently running your fingers over the fur, but do not flip them over. After they have been thoroughly scrubbed, remove the hedgehog from the sink, drain the dirty water and once again refill the sink with an inch of lukewarm water. Then, place them back in, thoroughly rinse them off, remove them from the sink and then gently towel them dry. You may need more than one towel while your hedgehog dries to make sure they don't get chilled. Do not place your hedgehog back into their cage until they're completely dry.
Many people prefer to trim their hedgehog's nails in the bath as most hedgehogs will not ball up in water and the nails are softer and easier to cut. If your hedgehog is new to you and still very skittish, you can have your vet do it the first couple of times, but you will want to learn how to do it yourself. Most hedgehogs need their nails trimmed regularly, sometimes as often as every week or every other week. You won't want to pay for a vet visit every time your hedgehog's nails need to be trimmed!
For those already familiar with the task, a pair of ordinary fingernail clippers will do the job. If your hedgehog protests, which they very well may, you will have to be very patient with them. First, try to firmly but gently grab hold of one foot and maintain that hold until he relaxes a bit. Then, quickly trim the toenails making sure to avoid cutting into the quick. After finishing, give them a bit of a break or a nice treat as a reward and proceed with the next foot. In most cases, you will be unable to do more than one or two of the feet at a setting before hedgie says enough is enough, so it may take several days to do all four feet. The toenails need to be checked for over-growth every couple of weeks. The back nails grow faster than the front nails, but the front nails curve very quickly when they get long and can start to grow into the front foot pads if nail trimming is never done.
If you happen to accidentally catch your hedgehog's quick and make the toe bleed, use flour or cornstarch to help stop the bleeding. There are commercial products to help with this, but they tend to sting a little. Usually the bleeding will stop within a few minutes, but if it continues for a long time or your hedgehog acts weak or lethargic, go to the vet immediately. Everyone feels very bad when they hit the quick, but it happens even to the best of owners. Hedgehogs move quickly and it's easy to clip right when they jerk their foot. Give your hedgehog some extra treats & cuddles, and they'll forgive you!
Hedgehogs pee and poop when they run on their wheel. This means they can frequently end up with a build up of dried poop on their feet, sometimes called “poop boots” by hedgehog owners. You can clean your hedgehog's feet by giving them a foot bath, which can be done nightly if necessary. For foot baths, you only need enough water to cover your hedgehog's feet – half an inch or less. Soap isn't necessary for foot baths. Make sure the water is still the appropriate temperature (warm, but not hot). Just let your hedgehog walk around in the water. You can give them a towel or piece of fleece to walk on which can help rub off the poop as it softens. You can also use a soft toothbrush to help remove the poop, or your fingers. Even if your hedgehog hates water, it's important to keep their feet clean so they don't end up with sores or other health issues from the build up.