Hedgehogs are known for their unique foraging methods. They are known for their ability to root through the undergrowth or hedges in search of small creatures such as insects, snails, mice, snakes, and worms.
If you have a look at their diet, you can see that they basically feed on everything we humans consider to be a garden pest. This makes them useful pets to have around especially if you are fond of gardening.
Among the many questions asked while bringing a hedgehog home as a pet is whether hedgehogs can swim or not?
So can hedgehogs swim? Yes, hedgehogs can swim and they love swimming in lukewarm water. But you need to understand that swimming has got nothing to do with their survival. Hedgehogs swim for just the pleasure and not for anything else.
In this article, we’ll discuss in detail everything you need to know before letting your hedgehog into water.
Can all hedgehogs swim?
Yes, all hedgehogs can swim. But you need to keep in mind that hedgehogs do not need to swim for survival. A hedgehog can survive his entire life without even swimming once.
Not all hedgehogs go out swimming once in a while. Only the ones living near a water body goes swimming. For instance, the ones living in the African deserts might have never swum in their lifetime and the ones living in lowlands of Western Europe might go swimming once in a while.
It doesn’t take much time for a hedgehog that has never swum in its entire life to learn swimming.
Is it important for a hedgehog to swim?
No, it is not important for hedgehogs to swim. Swimming has got nothing to do with their survival and they can thrive even without swimming. In fact, a hedgehog can live an entire life without swimming, if a chance does not arise.
In case, you let your hedgehog on the water for a swim be careful to have an eye on them. Hedgehogs cannot swim for long and chances of them drowning of tiredness is high. Always ensure that your hedgehog can get into dryland easily when it is tired.
Do hedgehogs need to swim to keep themselves clean?
If you’ve had a pet hedgehog for some time, you might know that they don’t need to be given a bath, unlike other pets. Hedgehogs are like cats who clean themselves up by licking its entire body and hedgehogs do not need water for cleaning.
The only time you might need to give them a shower is when they end up in something dirty causing a strong odor. In such cases, you can give them a bath inside a small water tub or under a shower preferably in lukewarm water. Also make sure that once you give them a bath, you dry them thoroughly.
Can I let my hedgehog swim in a swimming pool?
Yeah, you can let your hedgehog swim in a swimming pool. But there are quite a few things which you need to keep in mind before letting them inside a pool.
- Never let your hedgehog into the pool if the water is cold. Chances are that they might get chills which is not good for them. Make sure that water in the pool is lukewarm.
- Some hedgehogs may be reluctant to get down into the pool, in such cases never force them to get down. You don’t want your hedgehog to panic in the water which can be fatal for them.
- Sometimes, it may take them some time to actually learn the doggy paddle. They might know how to stay afloat but not to paddle. In such cases give them time to accustom and learn.
- Make sure that you always stay with them when they are in the pool. Hedgehogs may drown due to tiredness so you need to stay with them and give them a break often.
- Once you take them out of the pool, give them a shower in clean water to wash off the chlorine. Hedgehogs can have an allergic reaction in their skin if the chlorinated water is not properly dried off.
Are hedgehogs naturally buoyant?
Yeah, hedgehogs are buoyant naturally. They owe their buoyancy to their strong quills which have air-filled chambers in them. All they need to do is to roll themselves into a ball-like shape (their defensive posture) and lie on their back. The air-filled cavities in the quills will take care of the rest.
Though they are naturally buoyant, you would still need to stay with them while they swim. The best way would be to leave something that can stay afloat in the pool and something that’s easier for the hedgehog to climb on to.
Is it normal for hedgehogs to panic in the water while bathing?
Yeah, it is quite a normal behavior seen among hedgehogs. In fact, some hedgehogs may even poop and pee when they are in the water. This is nothing to be afraid of as it’ll change once they get used to the whole routine.
The best way to go about bathing them is to introduce them to a small pool if lukewarm water, preferably inside the kitchen sink or a water tub. Hold your hedgehog by its belly and slowly put it in water and give it some time to relax and get used to it.
Once he’s relaxed you can see him relaxing his spines and slowly starting to float around. This is an indication that they are now comfortable with the water and now you can start bathing them.
Things to know before letting your hedgehog into the pool for a bath
Before you let your hedgehog into the pool for a bath you need to be aware of the following things
- Give your hedgehog enough time to feel comfortable in the water
- Never apply soap or shampoo to your hedgehog, if the spines are still tight. It’s an indication that your hedge is scared.
- Never let water enter your hedgehog’s ear, nose, mouth and eyes.
- Rinse the soap/shampoo properly from its skin or it may cause allergic reactions to your hedge.
- Use a warm towel to dry your hedge after the bath. Never use a hair dryer directly on the hedgehog’s body.
- Make sure that the towel is not too warm either.
- Dry your hedge using the warm towel to avoid him/her catching chills.
Swimming pools can be a garden hazard to hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are good swimmers and buoyant by birth but that doesn’t make them completely safe in the water. Hedgehogs are fearful creatures and they panic when they sense a threat and roll its body with its spines facing outwards.
Sometimes hedgehogs can accidentally fall into swimming pools in gardens and they might panic. Rather than swimming or staying afloat, they curl themselves causing water to enter its nose or ears causing them to drown. In some cases they may swim around for some time, eventually becoming tired and they may drown.
If you have a hedgehog at home, make sure that you keep a ramp into the pool for them to exit easily in case of any accidents.
It is even better to keep the pool secured with nets. When a hedgehog accidentally falls into the pool chances are that he/she might panic and do not see the ramp. So it is better if you keep a close watch on your hedge’s activities, especially when he/she is playing outdoors.
Teaching a baby hedgehog to swim
If you have a baby hedgehog, you might know that it’s not as easy as handling an adult hedgehog. The babies can actually have some temperament issues than the adults making them a bit difficult to handle. You need to be careful while you let them into the water.
Start with a small water tub or the kitchen sink by filling water up to the hedgehog’s legs. Make sure that you are using lukewarm water.
Let the baby hedge walk around in the water for a while. Once you feel that the baby is comfortable enough, slowly increase the water level. See if the baby hedge is floating or not. If it is floating and relaxed, increase the water level and let it take its own time to learn to paddle.
Never leave the baby hedgehog alone in the water. If the baby start’s showing any signs of panic, take it out immediately and dry them thoroughly using a towel.
How often should I let my hedgehog swim?
Though your hedgehog may love swimming you shouldn’t let him/her swim every day. You can treat your hedgehog by letting it swim twice or thrice a month and not more than that.
Too much swimming can cause their skin to become dry which isn’t going to be good for your hedgehog. When you let your hedgehog swim, take him/her out of the water in 10 to 15 minutes.