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Just need to share this so others are aware.

I was lucky enough to have three hedgies when I lived in FL years ago. Recently here in CA, I managed to find one online. He was a male, about 2 years old, very obese and extremely shy. So obese that he could not form into a proper ball.

Initially, I gave him a shallow bath since he was very stinky and had poopy feet when I got him. Changed his food to something with higher protein count. I put my shirts in his cage so he would get used to me. Handled him often after he got settled.

Despite all that he would not open up ever. I did much research online and never heard of a hedgie drowning. Though everyone said to be cautious when giving deep baths. Even tales of them drowning in the wild were do to not have something to grab onto.

So one day I put him in the bathtub and set him on his side so I can see his face. Slowly the water would rise and I figured once it got to his face he would open up a swim a bit. Since I have seen many hedgies swim and even foxes roll them into lakes to get them to open up. Though as the water rose and covered his nose, he remained curled, I started counting down. 4, 3, 2, 1. Since I was afraid of him drowning and especially when bubbles were coming out of his nose.

I quickly picked him up and he seemed to be choking, he started to go limp. I smacked his back to get water out and even tried blowing into his mouth. Sadly he went limp. I think he had a heart attack.


As I write this and relive it in my mind, I am struck with sadness. Figured this would help anyone out there who was planning on doing the same to get their shy hedgie to open up or have a obese hedgie do some exercise with deep water. They can drown.
 

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You should NEVER let a hedgehog's face go under water. I'm sorry, but frankly this was a stupid thing to do. Even if they don't outright drown (which yes, can happen very quickly - they are small animals with small lungs), water in their nose can easily lead to a dangerous URI. You should've done more research as there are numerous threads on this forum that mention that, as well as being careful to not let their face go under water. And I know there are threads that mention that not all hedgehogs will unball even in water.

Aside from this incident, please do not get another hedgehog. They are illegal in California and you are risking the hedgehog being confiscated and euthanized if you have one in an illegal state.
 

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While I had never been told that hedgies could drown, I never really thought about it. I was never going to attempt to give my hog a deep bath, but I had never seen any posts about drowning either. I guess I never specifically looked? I did however know that water in nose is bad. It seems like you made an honest mistake. Unfortunately, even the most well intended actions can go poorly sometimes.. It's obvious that you are hurting over this. While I have little experience with pet loss, I have recent experience with family deaths, and pets are a part of your family. Might I suggest going to a pet loss grieving site? There are quite a few out there. You are not the first to be a well meaning owner whom misinterpreted what they read online and accidentally put their pet in peril. When this happens it is a true tragedy, and even worse so when you do not get a second chance. I do agree with Lilysmommy on not getting another hedgie in CA. It is illegal and what if he had survived and gotten an infection? Hedgehogs have to be able to go to the vet, especially if there is an emergency. I speak not from hedgehog experience there but in a things happen kinda way and owning other pets that need vet care. Accidents, illness, and so on can and DO happen on a daily basis. Until that changes, you would be putting any future hedgehogs at risk and supporting illegal breeders who can practice inbreeding, and sell ill tempered hedgehogs. Genetics does have a large play into health issues with most creatures. I hope you can find some peace of mind in all this and that anyone who thought of a similar thing will see this.
 

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I'm sorry for your loss. I know it was a mistake and you didn't mean to hurt him.

I would personally never give my hedgehog a deeper bath than where their spines meet their fur, and even then I am always right there in case she slips.

It's possible that foxes also roll them into water because the water makes their spines softer and it would be harder for the hedgie to get away in the water.
 
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