I’ve always wanted to have a hedgehog as a pet. The only thing that has held me back from getting one is their smell. It turns out though, that they don’t actually stink as I’ve always thought.
So, do hedgehogs really stink? Unlike many other pets, hedgehogs don’t have scent glands, so they don’t have an associated smell, meaning they don’t really stink. This means that they don’t have any particular scent, especially when they’re clean. However, hedgehogs can stink if they are not cleaned as the smell of urine and fecal matter can build up.
Ending up with a stinky hedgehog should be the least of your worries if you intend to get one. Like already mentioned, they don’t have scent glands, so you don’t have to worry about their smell. All you need to do is keep them clean.
Keeping hedgehogs and their cages clean on a routine basis will ensure the smells associated with their urine and fecal matter don’t build up. Especially as this can build up on their underside belly fur and on their feet, as they walk around their cage.
Hedgehogs need to be bathed to keep the stink from urine and fecal matter at bay, but this should be limited to only once a fortnight at most, as their skin can dry from bathing them too regularly.
Why Do Hedgehogs Smell?
Hedgehogs can smell for several reasons. They occasionally end up getting fecal matter and urine stuck onto their belly fur several times a day. This happens a lot especially if they’re well feed. Expect such cases too if your hedgehog’s cage remains dirty for a long time.
Ultimately, you may bathe your hedgehog at least once a month. As you do this, be gentle yet firm enough to ensure you remove all dry, fecal matter. Leave the animal dirty for a month or two and the fecal matter and urine will build up in the hedgehog’s fur. Before long, the animal will stink. You may also want to inspect the hedgehog’s spines and feet for fecal and food debris build up.
It is easy to conclude that hedgehogs only smell when dirty. While this is true, it is also important to note that there are many factors that can make hedgehogs to stink. Pee, as already hinted, is one primary factor.
Infections, especially oral infections can make a hedgehog’s breath stinky. Either way, there are many measures you can take to reduce or completely prevent hedgehog smell. Consider the following tips.
You may have noticed that hedgehogs behave just like humans when it comes to early morning excretion. Wake the animal up in the morning, take out everything it his cage apart from water and food. Before you know it, the hedgehog will invariably after eating and drinking, pee and poop.
The pee at this stage may not smell as it’ll just be a puddle on the cage’s plastic floor. It may also not smell much because hedgehog poop smell is usually stronger and may mask out the pee smell. You’ll only notice the smell once pee gets soaked in bedding. There’s no shortcut around this. Your best bet is to regularly change your hedgehog’s bedding.
This may sound hard and demanding by it isn’t. Use a handheld vacuum to suck up poop and food debris deposited in the hedgehog’s cage. Be sure to keep your hedgehog in another room or cage as you do this.
Poop can be anywhere inside the cage, including inside the water bowl. That’s why you need to change the water bowl as well when cleaning the cage. Hedgehogs are also known to poop inside their pouches especially during cold winter months. With that in mind, inspect the pouch too. Then be gentle when cleaning it.
Mid-week Bedding Change
This is particularly important if you have more than two hedgehogs, but we’ve adopted this for just our single hedgehog. Change the bedding at least thrice every week. One of those changes should be part of the full clean routine where you swap out beddings including the pouch, before adding a fresh, new set.
Full Cage Cleaning
Full weekly cage clean because one of simple reason – pee can easily seep into the bedding then straight onto the cage floor. You may also notice fecal deposits on the bedding edges which occasionally seeps into the cage especially when still fresh and wet.
The poop may harden over time and stick onto the cage floor. You’ll then have to remove it so as to get rid of the bad smell it comes along with.
For thorough cleaning, take everything out of the hedgehog’s cage. Then, using soapy water, scrub the cage’s floor with a soft bristled brush. Rinse off the cage with clean, non-soapy water before wiping it clean.
By all means, make sure there are no chemical deposits on the cage. Remember to also clean any other item inside the cage including toys as they also get pooped and peed on.
Swap Out The Running Wheels
It is easy to clean everything and completely forget about the running wheel. As strange as it sounds, it could be the source of bad smell after you’ve cleaned everything and forgot about it. The wheel gets sprayed with urine and poop so it can as well be a sure source of hedgehog smell.
To make your work easier when cleaning the wheel, buy two of them. Have the hedgehog use one wheel actively as the other one soaks overnight, submerged in soapy water. When you come to swap the wheels, the one that’s been soaking through the night will only need a quick rub with dry cloth or tissue.
Bathe The Hedgehog
Again, this may sound hard, but it isn’t, mainly because you should only do it twice a month. Bathing will go a long way to get rid of dried poop on the hedgehog’s feet, which is yet another source of foul smell. It’ll also get rid of dried urine on the underbelly.
Be keen and gentle as your bathe your hedgehog. Whilst bathing alone is a good way to keep strong smell at bay, you may want to be careful with how you do it. Bath the hedgie gently not to cause dry skin which can then lead to cracks. It won’t then be long before the cracks get an infection. The safest way to go about bathing a hedgie is to use baby shampoo. Then wash the animal only twice a month.
Does Hedgehog Poop Stink?
Chances are, you may not notice that hedgehog poop stinks if you keep your hedgehog in a clean cage. You’ll only notice the poop smells or stinks if you leave the hedgehog and its cage dirty for too long. Especially if the poop ends up building up into their fur or hardening on their feet.
Note that just like it is the case with humans, a dirty environment poses great danger to the hedgehog. So by the time you notice that your hedgehog’s poop stinks, it’ll most likely be a sign that you need to do some cleaning.
Another factor worth noting is that there’s a direct link between your hedgehog’s health and how its poop smells. You may for instance notice smelly poop even after thoroughly cleaning your hedgehog and its cage.
Consult a vet especially if you notice the hedgehog isn’t active or doesn’t have appetite. This could be a sign of an infected digestive tract.
Still on the subject of a hedgehogs health, be keen on the state of its poop. Pellet like poop that’s firm is normal. Light poop on the other hand isn’t a good sign. It may be a sign that something’s wrong with what you’re feeding the hedgehog with.
Chances are that the light poop might be smelly especially if it suddenly changes from occasional light poop to diarrhea. The best and the only solution in that case would be to consult a vet.
Hedgehogs make perfect pets. But like it is the case with any other pet, the call for routine care and maintenance. You have to feed them well. You also have to ensure they live comfortably. This means constant cleaning of where they live as well as a good diet. Anything short of this means you may have to put up with foul smell.
Notably, there’s always the temptation to use scents like scented candles, incense or even air fresheners to mask hedgehog smell. By all means, avoid going that route. Clean the hedgehog as well as its cage and you most certainly won’t have to worry about such quick fix solutions.
They’ll only cause your hedgehog distress. That’s because hedgehogs have profound sense of smell. What may not be troubling to you may very well be troubling to your hedgehog.