Hedgehogs are small mammals instantly recognizable by their array of protective spikes that cover their body and their rodent-like features. Hedgehogs are extremely cute, and their easy-going nature has made them a perfect choice for pet owners who like the unusual and eccentric.
Hedgehogs have relatively low maintenance requirements, however, having one at home does still require some special care to keep it in good health and cleanliness. Unfortunately, many people who end up deciding on hedgehogs as pets lack this important knowledge.
One of the most common complaints I hear from inexperienced hedgehog owners is about their smell.
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What Does A Hedgehog Smell Like?
Hedgehogs do not have a bad smell. Compared to other types of pets, hedgehogs do not smell much like anything if they are kept clean and healthy.
What You Need To Know About Hedgehogs And Their Smell
The most common questions that new or potential hedgehog owners ask are: Are hedgehogs safe to hold? And, do hedgehogs smell bad? Or, what do hedgehog pee and poop smell like?
Thankfully, these are questions with straightforward answers.
First and foremost, hedgehogs are definitely safe to hold. New owners quickly learn to hold their hedgehogs and find that the savage-looking spikes are not as sharp as they appear.
Second, healthy hedgehogs do not produce a bad or unpleasant smell. I’ve met hedgehog owners who are particularly fond of the typical hedgehog smell.
Therefore, if a hedgehog stinks or is producing an offensive smell, there is likely some sort of contributing aggravating factor.
So what about the rest?
Does Hedgehog Pee Stink?
Hedgehog pee does not have a very strong odor. But they do produce urine that has a twinge of ammonia. As long as you do not let the waste sit for long and build up, it should not smell.
Does Hedgehog Poop Smell?
As with their urine, hedgehog poop does not give off a heavy odor. But hedgehogs poop a lot. If you do not clean up the feces regularly, it will begin to smell bad.
This is why it is extremely important to keep your hedgehog in clean conditions and to start a schedule of regular cage or habitat cleaning and litter changing.
Reasons Why Your Hedgehogs Smells
As I mentioned above, a healthy and well-kept hedgehog should produce little to no hedgehog odor at all. Moreover, whatever light smell produced by your hedgehog pet should never be particularly offensive.
On the other hand, poorly kept, dirty, or sickly hedgehogs can certainly produce and emanate unpleasant smells throughout your household.
Proper hygiene is important with any animal. With hedgehogs, dried fecal matter and traces of urine can get stuck to their tiny feet where it gives off a foul smell even after their box has been cleaned out.
Another reason for stinky or smelly hedgehogs is using the wrong type of bedding for their enclosure.
The most common types of bedding for hedgehogs include paper beddings, wood shaving beddings, fabric beddings, and natural fiber beddings.
Each of these will have different levels of absorption and quality. You must choose one that works for your individual pet. Choose the wrong type, and your hedgehog may prove stinkier than you would like.
Feed your hedgehog the wrong diet and you may find yourself with a particularly rank smelling animal.
Hedgehogs are omnivores, which means that they can be fed a wide variety of food options. This, however, does not mean that you can feed your hedgehog anything you want. The wrong or unbalanced diet can throw the animal’s digestive cycle completely off, and result in extra smelly urine and feces.
My recommendation is to feed them specially formulated hedgehog kibble, like ZooPro’s Hedgehog Essential, a blend of high-quality protein, fatty acids, and fiber.
If a hedgehog develops a skin disease or infection, it can certainly give off a foul smell. In these cases, no matter how clean your animal is, the smell may need veterinary involvement to clear.
What To Do If Your HedgeHog Smells Bad
Being smelly is an unnatural state for your hedgehog. This means that if you find yourself with a foul-smelling hedgehog in your hands, you should take action to identify and correct the problem.
Here are a few things you can try to get rid of your spiky pet’s unpleasant smells:
Bathe them regularly. Uric acid gives hedgehog pee and poo a slight ammonia odor and these droppings tend to dry underneath the animal’s feet.
Therefore, you should make sure to bathe your hedgehog regularly and clean their feet thoroughly. While most owners will find that bathing their hedgehog once a month is enough, others will find that bi-monthly baths may be necessary to ensure a clean-smelling animal.
Clean their cage at least once per week. Cleaning a hedgehog’s cage will require that you completely empty the enclosure and hosing any items down. I recommend using an unscented detergent to thoroughly wash away any debris. Don’t forget to give other items like their spinning wheel a soapy wash now and then.
A mid-week cleaning and bedding change is also highly recommended if you have a particularly active animal. Often times the more active a hedgehog is, the more he or she will poop and pee.
If you follow these tips and still find your hedgehog producing a markedly unpleasant scent, then you should seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian.