Whether you own a pet hedgehog or you’ve simply got wild ones entering your garden each night, you’re probably curious to know if hedgehogs can actually swim?
Well, we’ve got the answer for you right here in the post! And not just that, we’ve also done some in-depth research to find out everything you need to know about both the dangers and benefits of swimming hedgehogs!
So can hedgehogs swim? Yes, hedgehogs can swim very well. Their quills help them to stay afloat in the water as they are partially filled with air. Even though they are good swimmers, wild hedgehogs can still face many dangers in outdoor gardens as they struggle to get out of high sided pools and ponds and can often drown.
Read on to discover…
Can Hedgehogs Swim? More Info
Hedgehogs are both natural and good swimmers and this is backed up by many vets and experts such as Vetmed who also sing the praises of how well hedgehogs can swim.
Hedgehogs are actually helped to float in the water by their quills.
Even though these quills are tough and strong they contain a network of air chambers that help to keep the hedgehog buoyant in the water.
This allows the hedgehog to swim with relative ease with next to no bodyweight to carry.
Take a look at the cute video below that shows a hedgehog swimming with ease…
Is It Dangerous For Hedgehogs to Swim?
Even though hedgehogs are known to be good swimmers, they can still encounter difficulties in the water.
If you have a pool or pond and you have wild hedgehogs entering your garden/yard at night it can actually be a literal death trap for them.
Often when a hedgehog falls into a pool or pond the sides are too steep for them to climb back out.
They will keep swimming for as long as they can before fatigue sets in and they inevitably drown from exhaustion.
If you have a pond it’s a good idea to either cover it at night or create a sloped or ramped side to the pond so the hedgehogs can easily exit.
You can also place a hard plastic sheet or some people even use chicken wire to create the same ramp system at one end of the pond.
If you have a swimming pool it’s still possible to create a ramp using the same methods but the hedgehog will obviously have to travel further to find the exit and it can still be dangerous.
If you own a pet hedgehog and you are allowing them to swim while supervised then the dangers are far less.
You shouldn’t have any serious problems allowing your pet hedgehog to swim as long as you follow the advice we give later in the post.
Are There Any Benefits to Letting My Hedgehog Swim?
If you have a pet hedgehog there are two main benefits to letting your hedgehog swim.
Let’s take a look at these two benefits and how they can make a positive impact on the health and happiness of your hedgehog…
1. Swimming Is Great For Keeping Hedgehogs Fit
The first benefit is that swimming helps to keep your hedgehog in shape.
Many hedgehogs in captivity are known to struggle with obesity. Source:
This is largely due to the fact that they are fed a diet that isn’t optimal for them and contains too much fat.
Here’s a short and informative post that shares exactly why we recommend feeding this hedgehog food
Wild hedgehogs also naturally get lots of exercises and get cover between 1-2km per night while foraging according to the wildlife trust.
In captivity, hedgies don’t get anywhere near this kind of exercise and it affects their weight.
Swimming, however, is a great physical exercise for hedgehogs and one you can use to keep your hedgie fit and healthy.
2. Swimming Helps Mental Stimulation
Swimming is also great to keep your hedgie mentally stimulated.
In the wild, hedgehogs have to constantly forage for their next meal, while keeping an eye out for predators at the same time.
These two things alone are enough to keep them mentally stimulated at all times.
In captivity, it’s great that they are fed daily and there are no predators to worry about but this also hedgehogs with nothing to focus on.
This, in turn, can leave hedgehogs with a lack of mental stimulation and therefore becoming bored.
We’ve actually just written a great post covering if hedgehogs get lonely? Which you can check out here…
For this reason, as an owner, you have to provide your hedgie with both toys and activities that give them the stimulation they need.
Swimming is a great option if used correctly (more on how often and how long you should let them swim for later in the post)
We also recommend you offer your hedgehog many more toys and activities than just swimming to keep them stimulated.
We’ve created a list here that shares the best options for keeping your hedgehog stimulated with toys and games…
Can All Hedgehog Swim?
Yes, all hedgehogs are good swimmers although some will be better than others.
This can depend on a number of factors including age, gender, breed, size and weight.
As well as this, all breeds of hedgehogs can swim including the 4 most common breeds…
- African Pygmy Hedgehog
- European Hedgehog
- Egyptian Long-Eared Hedgehog
- Indian Long-Eared Hedgehog
Can Baby Hedgehogs Swim?
Baby hedgehogs or hoglets can indeed swim. It can take them a while to build up the strength that’s needed to swim and for this reason, it’s not recommended to simply drop them into a pool or pond.
It can also cause stress if they are struggling to swim so it’s not a recommended method to take.
Instead, we recommend putting the baby hedgehog in a shallow sink of water to get them used to the concept.
The water should be shallow enough for them to walk around in without actually having to swim.
From there you can put a little more water in the sink the next time you try this and see if your hedgie will attempt to swim comfortably without panicking.
If not, then you can try again in a couple of weeks and see how they react then. If your hedgie still isn’t comfortable and is panicking or struggling then it’s probably best to wait until they’ve reached adulthood.
If your baby hedgie seems to react to the water fine with no signs of stress then it’s time to move onto the bathtub and repeat the process.
Do All Hedgehogs Like to Swim?
The fact of the matter is that not all hedgehogs will like to swim. This will depend largely on their own personality.
Just like us humans, hedgehogs have their own personalities and while one hedgie might love swimming another might simply hate it.
The hedgehog could either be intimidated by the water or simply too lazy to swim.
Something that needs pointing out is that hedgehogs can be a little timid of swimming at first.
This is normal and they might shake, tighten up their spines or even poop and urinate while in water and swimming.
This should settle after a couple of sessions and even improve during the first session.
The main thing is to try and take note of how your hedgie reacts to the situation when swimming and don’t force them if it’s not something they don’t want to do if they are still scared or unsure after a few sessions.
Do Hedgehogs Need to Swim?
Swimming isn’t something that hedgehogs actually need to do and some hedgies such as the African Pygmy hedgehog may not even swim once in its entire life in the wild.
Hedgehogs don’t need to swim or take baths to keep clean and you should only give them a bath if they’re really dirty. Source:
Hedgies actually keep clean by licking themselves and they do a pretty good job of keeping well-groomed.
As we mentioned earlier in the post, swimming can be beneficial for various reasons but that’s a lot different from them needing to swim and it being a necessity.
Can Hedgehogs Swim In The Bathtub?
Hedgehogs can swim in the bathtub and this is probably the most popular place to allow your hedgie to swim.
Make sure the water is lukewarm and not hot like it would be when you are taking a bath.
You can check the temperature with your wrist to make sure it’s nice and lukewarm for your hedgie.
Can Hedgehogs Swim In Swimming Pools (Chlorine)
Hedgehogs can swim in swimming pools so if you have one in your garden/yard feel free to let them have a dip as long as you are supervising them.
You must, however, wash off the chlorine afterwards as it can damage the skin of your hedgie if not.
It’s not advised to let them do this too often as the constant exposure to chlorine and then washing afterwards isn’t good for their skin long term.
Can Hedgehogs Swim In a Paddling Pool?
Yes, hedgehogs can swim in a paddling pool in your garden/yard.
The main thing to consider is that you aren’t using the paddling pool for family members to jump in and out of and splash around in when your hedgehog is swimming in the pool.
If other people are using the paddling pool this can make waves and ultimately cause your hedgehog to struggle in the water or even get injured.
Just remember to be mindful and only allow your hedgehog to swim if they can do so safely.
Should The Water Be Hot Or Cold For My Hedgehog to Swim?
The temperature of the water you want your hedgehog to swim in should be lukewarm.
Water that’s extremely hot can obviously burn them and what seems ok for me and you isn’t ok for your hedgehog.
On the other hand, water that’s too cold can shock them and even stress your hedgie out so never allow them to swim in ice-cold water.
How Often Should My Hedgehog Swim?
It’s not a good idea to let your hedgehogs swim on a daily basis due to the fact that too much water can be very bad for their skin.
Excess water will dry out the skin of your hedgehog especially if they’re swimming in a swimming pool due to the chlorine.
Ideally, you shouldn’t let your hedgie swim any more than 2-3 times per month.
Remember that hedgehogs don’t need to swim to keep clean and it’s only for recreational purposes.
How Long Should My Hedgehog Swim For?
There isn’t really any specific time that a hedgehog should swim for but if you allow them in the water for around 5-10 minutes then that should easily be long enough.
It’s also a good idea to constantly keep taking your hedgie out of the water every 30 seconds to a minute to let them have a little rest if they are new to swimming.
You also need to use your own judgement and assess whether your hedgehog is getting stressed or tired while swimming.
They even simply might not want to be in the water at all.
If you notice any of the above happenings then you should take them out and end the session.
Can I Leave My Hedgehog Alone While Swimming?
You should never leave your hedgehog alone while swimming even if they look comfortable.
Even if your hedgie has swum lots of times before and is used to the water, there’s always a chance of something going wrong and the consequences just aren’t worth the risk.
This rule applies even in your home if they are swimming in the bathtub.
Hedgehogs can get tired very quickly and begin to struggle and if you’re not there to supervise then the situation could end badly.