Do Hedgehogs Like or Hate Water? Bathing vs Swimming Check


If you’re not well acquainted with hedgehogs, then you might not know how to accommodate them when you adopt one. You may also be well acquainted with these pets but unclear whether these small animals like or hate water. To clear the air, we sought to find out whether hedgehogs find solace in water or not.

So, do hedgehogs like or hate water? In general, the vast majority of hedgehogs don’t like water. In fact, most hedgehogs don’t want anything to do with water and will often protest from taking a bath. However, depending on a particular hedgehog’s personality, there are certainly some exceptions to this rule. However, hedgehogs who are more curious and outgoing tend to like swimming more than those with other personality types.

Hedgehogs need to be bathed regularly as they become dirty quite quickly, with their fur, legs and even their spines coming into contact with their poop, urine as well as food and water in their cages. Bathing them at least once a fortnight therefore is highly recommended to ensure any dirt is removed and any lingering smells dissipate.

When it comes to bath time most hedgehogs are highly resistant and when they are placed in the water, they spend an age trying to climb their way out of their bath. Normally when they are not happy, especially when they are stressed, they may start pooping and this is clearly evident when they are placed into their bath.

The bath water needs to be changed a few times to get rid of their poop and urine, but eventually they will calm down and settle into their bath. It’s important to make sure the water isn’t too deep, and they can easily walk in the water. We keep the water at a level equal to the bottom of our hedgehogs head, so he can breathe quite easily and not start to panic.

Making sure the water in the bath is vitally important as if it’s too warm, it may stress the hedgehog out, so we always check the water temperature using a thermometer. A typical hedgehogs body temperature is 95F to 98F (35C to 37C), so aiming to keep the water temperature within this range is recommended. If you don’t have a thermometer, you could use your elbow to gage how hot the water is, as is commonly done when giving babies baths.

It’s vitally important to ensure the area where the hedgehog is given a bath is warm too, as otherwise, they will not only feel the cold as they are taken out of the bath, more so, if the water needs to be change frequently. But they will also succumb to the cold, as they will only be partially submerged in the water and the wet areas above the water line, will feel a lot colder to them than normal, as water increases heat loss.

Giving a hedgehog a treat like a mealworm or two after a bath is recommended, as they may start to associate that there’s something good at the end of their bath. Make sure you keep them warm when feeding them mealworms and we always make sure our hedgehog has been thoroughly dried before putting him on his heat mat pad to eat mealworm treats.

Be careful not to over bathe your hedgehog as this can lead to their skin becoming drier. We normally add oatmeal (in a sock) to the bath water as a moisturizer and we only bathe our hedgehog twice a month, that once a fortnight. This limits any chances of his skin drying out and cracking but provides enough to keep him clean.

There are many aspects of hedgehogs and water that many owners know little about. Read on to find out whether hedgehogs can swim.

Can Hedgehogs Swim?

Since there’s little information known about hedgehogs, the vast majority of pet owners are left to experiment on their pets to find out whether they can do a particular thing or not. For example, swimming has been left to the imagination, with films such as Sonic the Hedgehog being on the forefront in displaying how hedgehogs behave. However, many owners are left to imagine whether hedgehogs can swim.

So, can hedgehogs swim? When it comes to hedgehogs, liking water is one thing, and swimming is another. Hedgehogs are good swimmers and instinctively can start swimming without any previous practice. In the wild, hedgehogs can run and swim for up to 2km whilst searching for food each day.

Any swimming activities pursued for pet hedgehogs should only be done under supervision, as water can get cold very quickly and this could be detrimental to a hedgehogs health. A stagnant pool of water in a cage, will get cold quickly at night, especially if there is insufficient heating in the cage. Cold water will make them lethargic and in a worse case scenario, make them so cold, they could end up going into African Pygmy hedgehogs as they have evolved in warmer climates and are not used to colder climates. Resulting in the possibility of falling into hibernation when they leave the water.

Pursuing swimming activities under supervision provides an opportunity to bond with your hedgehog, so when you’ve put filled the bath, or a bathing receptable with water. You’re there to guide and help your hedgehog, to calm them down and reward them afterwards. You may find they actually do love swimming or like we did, find out our hedgehog doesn’t like swimming at all. At least we can say we tried it and didn’t just leave it as a lingering thought in our minds.

It’s important also to note if you have a swimming pool, there may be a temptation for you to put your hedgehog in the swimming pool. This wouldn’t be recommended, firstly as their probably chlorine in the water to keep it hygienic and this chlorine might react with the hedgehogs skin, causing them to itch or resulting in rashes.

Secondly, the hedgehog will invariably poop in the water, so the whilst the chlorine will provide some protection in keeping the water clean, fragments of poop will still be floating even when the main parts have been removed. I wouldn’t particularly want to swim in a swimming pool where there’s tiny poop particles floating about that I could easily swallow.

Lastly, the deep water in the swimming pool, may cause the hedgehog to panic and overly stress them out. They won’t be able to clamber out of the pool themselves, so their continued attempts at trying to get out will stress them out even more. Whilst the water may not be deep enough for us to worry about, we have the luxury of being able to touch the pool floor in most cases, hedgehogs won’t be able to do this.

Generally, hedgehogs can swim, not only for survival but also for fun. A pet hedgehog can survive for its entire life without necessarily having to swim. Take, for example, hedgehogs living in the African desert. Although they are well acquainted with swimming, they don’t necessarily have to swim to feed.

Wrap Up

Hedgehogs, just like any other animal, have different personalities. While one hedgehog might love spending time in the water, another may despise the idea of taking a bath. Regardless, it’s essential to study the habits of your hedgehog. This way, you will know whether it likes water, the amount of water it should take, and whether it enjoys swimming among many other things.

Bal Kang

Hi I'm Bal together with my daughter Jinnee, we've created this website about African Pygmy Hedgehogs. We've learnt a lot looking after our hedgehog Hynee and share our knowledge, tips and tricks.

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