Do Hedgehogs Smell Bad?

Do you think about getting a hedgehog and want to make sure that it doesn't turn your home into a stinky hole? Or do you have a hedgehog that smells and want to change this situation? Healthy hedgehogs are pretty odorless so I gathered some things you can do about it.
Hedgehog lying in a field of flowers

Unlike many other exotic pets like ferrets, hedgehogs don’t have scent glands. [1] While this at first might makes you smile, you’re probably wondering why then your little friend is so stinky. Don’t get me wrong with this, pet hedgehogs can smell very bad, but most of the causes can be eliminated by the owner.

Reasons Why Hedgehogs Smell

  • The most important factor isn’t the hedgehog himself but his cage (and all the accessories you put in it). The little pets poop very much and everywhere and make a real mess. Cleaning after them all the time can be quite challenging but there will be no other way.
  • Domesticated pets are still animals and they won’t care if there is some urine or poop in their way and walk straight through it. Obviously, some of the waste will get stuck to their feet and slowly find its way to other parts of the body.
  • Another cause that is often overlooked can be the food you serve your little hedgie. Make sure that it’s not too fatty as this is the most important thing to consider. That said, serving high-quality food increases the overall health and activity level of your little friend.
  • Sickness and infections can cause a strong smell as well. If you’ve done everything from my list in the next paragraph and nothing helps, don’t hesitate to make a trip to the vet!

What You Can Do About It

Now the interesting part starts! Here are my top tips to get rid of the problem 🙂

#1 Spot Clean Daily

Many hedgehog owners spot clean not only twice a week but every day! In our case spot cleaning includes picking up poop, changing wet bedding and swiping accessories that are dirty.

Hint: you’ll find most of the waste in and around the exercise wheel. Sounds like a lot of work? Make it a routine just like feeding and it won’t feel like that for a long time. 

#2 Deep Clean The Cage Weekly

It’s time for deep cleaning of the cage every week. Believe me, two times a month isn’t enough!

Now the bedding needs a complete change. Additionally, you’ll have to clean all accessories and wipe out the cage. A cage liner will save you some time and makes the process a bit easier.

Make sure you use lenient soap that is suitable for cage cleaning. Aggressive chemicals might eliminate all the bacteria for sure, but they can entail risks for the health of your pet.

#3 Choose High-Quality Bedding

The right bedding absorbs moisture and odor. You’ll agree, that these qualities are a key factor. However, there is a lot that can be done wrong with bedding, especially when it comes to your hedgehog.

I wrote a whole guide about hedgehog bedding options which I recommend you to read. A short summary would look like this:

  • Consider washable fleece bedding. It reduces the costs of owning a hedgehog significantly and is safe.
  • Don’t go for a scented product. Sharp chemicals in general don’t belong in any small pet product.
  • Wood options can harm male hedgehogs as they can get stuck in the penile sheath when they are not soft enough.

#4 Choose High-Quality Food

As I already mentioned above, the food you serve can decrease the smell of poop dramatically. I recommend reading my prior linked guide as well as the one about cat food for hedgehogs. The ingredient that has the most influence concerning our problem is fat.

Apart from that, it is important to offer fresh water at any time. Your little hedgie will likely walk through his bowl with everything stuck to his feet and you don’t want him to drink from that again.

#5 Littertrain Your Hedgehog

Litter training your hedgie can be a challenge but it is doable for sure. Some owners even put a small bin under the wheel as the pet will naturally do most of its business while running.

For the training itself leave just a few pieces when you spot clean and place them in a litter box or the area where your pet is meant to poop. If the process in general is unclear, I recommend watching the video below.

#6 Bath Your Hedgehog

Every once in while is bathing time. While it might be new for you to bathe your pet, there is nothing wrong with doing it every four to six weeks. More frequent bathing can dry out the skin and lead to irritations, so be aware.

There are little bathtubs for hedgehogs on the market, but you can go with a small bin and a toothbrush. Often well-temperatured water is enough, if you feel your hedgie needs something more, try baby wash for sensitive skin and be careful.

Pro tip: Your hedgehog can have a foot bath every day with clean water. Most hedgehogs enjoy this ritual and it will help to reduce the work with spot cleaning.

Wrapping Things Up

I hope my article answered your question. Hedgehogs are adorable pets that are nearly odorless. So this topic shouldn’t stop you from getting one. If you already have a little prickly friend, just follow through the steps in the article and the problem should be solved.

Wondering if hedgehogs make good pets? Read the article.