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How to Get Rid of Hedgehog Smell (7 Ideas and Tips) 

Northern white-breasted hedgehog on the grass

Hedgehogs might be prickly, but they are still popular pets for many people in the U.S.A., though they’re not native to the country. Like all animals, their cages can get incredibly smelly, even if hedgehogs don’t smell as much as other small animals, like ferrets.

Urine, poop, and even illness can all make your hedgehog’s cage smell unpleasant. That said, they’re an easy animal to take care of and relatively low maintenance, which makes it simple to keep them smelling nice. To help new hedgehog owners out there, here is a list of tips to reduce the smells coming from your hedgehog.

divider-hedgehogThe 7 Tips for Getting Rid of Hedgehog Smell

1. Bath Time

giving a hedgehog a bath
Image Credit: Anca Popa, Shutterstock

Hedgehogs are naturally clean animals and don’t often need to be washed, but you can help minimize any unwanted smells by bathing your pet. It’s important that you don’t wash your hedgehog too often, though. Their skin is naturally dry, and too many baths can make it dry out further and crack.

A bath once every 2 weeks, with gentle soap, is more than enough. Or, you can just wash them when they get too smelly.

Bath time is also a good way to entice your hedgehog into moving around. They’re natural swimmers, and if you make the water deep enough, it’s a good excuse for them to swim around as exercise. Just remember to give them a place to rest, and don’t leave them unattended.


2. Clean the Cage

Ferplast Cage for Hamsters and Mice

More than anything else, cleaning the cage is the best way to minimize your hedgehog’s smell. Even if you litter train your hedgehog, you still need to make sure the cage itself is clean.

Your hedgehog’s cage should give them space to move in, and it should have a solid base so they don’t get their feet and claws stuck. Make sure to regularly set aside time to empty and wash it to remove any excrement and dirt that can cause it to smell. While it’s a lengthy process, it’s a worthwhile one, and as a naturally clean animal, your hedgehog will be grateful for the clean cage.

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3. Clean the Exercise Wheel

Ferplast Cage for Hamsters

Hedgehogs don’t need that much space in their cage, just enough to be comfortable. However, they still need to be able to move around properly. They can be prone to obesity, so having a variety of activities to coax them into movement is essential for their health. An exercise wheel is an excellent way to encourage your small pet to get in exercise, but it can quickly pick up dirt and poop while your hedgehog uses it.

Regularly removing the exercise wheel to clean it can help reduce any odors coming from your pet’s home. You can also leave the exercise wheel in soapy water to soak for a few hours to get any stubborn clumps of poop off, especially if you have a spare wheel to switch it with.


4. Diet

hedgehog eating cricket
Image Credit: Best dog photo,Shutterstock

With most of the unpleasant odor coming from excrement, it’s not surprising that our hedgehog’s diet plays a part in how much they smell. Foods that are fatty, nutrient deficient, and hard to digest and contain fish can all make your hedgehog’s poop smell bad.

Your hedgehog should eat a healthy, balanced diet made with high-quality but low-fat ingredients. In general, a meat-based diet is fine, and any dry kibble should be small and easy for your hedgehog to manage. A diet of pellets formulated with hedgehogs in mind is a simple way to make sure your hedgehog receives the nutrients that they need.

As insectivores, hedgehogs also benefit from occasional snacks in the form of earthworms, crickets, and mealworms. However, don’t give them too many live insects to catch; otherwise, your hedgehog will start to prefer them over nutrient pellets.


5. Fresh Bedding

an african pygmy hedgehog on owner hand
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

Make sure your hedgehog always has fresh bedding. Unlike the task of cleaning the cage itself and the wheel, changing your hedgehog’s bedding should be a much more frequent chore.

Their bedding can quickly become laden with forgotten food, water spills, and excrement, so make sure to clean it out at least three times a week.

Dust-free and odor-neutralizing bedding will keep your hedgehog comfortable and warm.


6. Litter Training

brushing a hedgehog
Image Credit: Jenn Huls, Shutterstock

Litter training is something that we all consider when it comes to taking care of cats, but hedgehogs can be taught to use a litter tray too. Placing a tray of absorbent litter or pine pellets in your hedgehog’s cage and teaching them to use it as their toilet will help you keep their cage clean and reduce odors.

Keep the tray in a corner where your hedgehog regularly goes to the bathroom. Or, move their existing poop to the litter tray to convince them to use that area instead of in the middle of the cage.

They’re not the easiest animals to train, but with perseverance, it is possible. Like with house training a puppy, it’s much easier to teach a young hedgehog. That doesn’t mean you can’t litter train an older pet, though. It’ll just take a little longer.


7. Visit a Veterinarian

a hedgehog held on hands with gloves showing signs of ringworm infections
Image Credit: Colin Seddon, Shutterstock

Sometimes, despite our best efforts to keep our hedgehog’s living space clean, the issue isn’t their cage at all. Occasionally, the reason that a hedgehog smells is due to a health issue. If you’re fastidious about keeping your hedgehog’s cage clean and still notice an odor, it’s time to visit your veterinarian.

Hedgehogs are prone to many health issues, and regular checkups will help you keep on top of any illnesses that arise. Your veterinarian will also be able to tell you the best way to take care of your hedgehog if you’re new to owning one.

Health issues that your hedgehog can suffer from include:
  • Obesity
  • Dental problems
  • Ringworm
  • Heart disease
  • Salmonella
  • Wobbly hedgehog syndrome

Common Mistakes When Removing Hedgehog Smell

Keeping your hedgehog and their cage from smelling bad isn’t a difficult chore, but it can easily go wrong depending on the method that you use. Here are a few things that you should never do when trying to reduce your hedgehog’s odor.

hedgehog in the wild
Image Credit: Coatesy, Shutterstock

Air Fresheners or Scented Candles

Grabbing a can of air freshener or lighting your favorite scented candle is a quick and easy way to handle all sorts of smells. Where our hedgehogs are concerned, though, you want to avoid both of these methods.

Hedgehogs are prey animals and they’re extremely sensitive to smell. While we might think that mountain-fresh aerosol is a pleasant alternative to smelling our hedgehog’s cage, our pet won’t see it the same way. Using scented cleaners to reduce odors, even if they’re not caused by your hedgehog, can cause your pet unnecessary stress.

Instead of air fresheners, try an air purifier. It’s more expensive, but you can buy air purifiers designed with pet owners in mind, and they’re an unobtrusive way to keep the air smelling fresh. Plus, they won’t bother your prickly friend.

Chemical Cleaners

Cleaning out the entirety of your hedgehog’s cage regularly is a necessary responsibility. Chemical cleaners, however, can often leave lingering odors that will have the same effect as air fresheners and scented candles. The cage might be as good as new when you’re finished, but the cloying smell of bleach won’t make your hedgehog comfortable.

Instead of using chemical cleaners — many of which aren’t suitable for use anywhere near pets, anyway — clean out the cage with baking soda. It’s a great, natural cleaning solution that neutralizes odors without masking them. You’ll be able to clean and deodorize your hedgehog’s cage, and they’ll be none the wiser.

an adorable hedgehog licking its nose while being held
Image Credit: Julia Jane, Shutterstock

Open Windows

On warm summer days, an open window can help air out your house a little. However, you need to pay particular attention to the weather and the location of your hedgehog’s cage. These animals are sensitive to sudden temperature changes, and if they get too cold, they can get sick.

Keep the windows shut in winter or during cold weather to prevent your hedgehog from becoming ill.

divider-hedgehogConclusion

Hedgehogs are naturally clean, but they can still smell unpleasant on occasion. Keeping them happy and smelling clean is an ongoing task but well worth the effort, especially when it comes to the welfare of your pet.

Regularly cleaning their cage and exercise wheel, along with changing their bedding, can help lessen the odor surrounding your hedgehog. You can also give your hedgehog an occasional bath if they get a little too smelly. Avoid using air fresheners, though, because strong scents can worry your hedgehog.

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Featured Image Credit: Lubos Houska, Shutterstock

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