Two of the first questions most potential hedgehog owners have are, do hedgehogs smell? And do hedgehog cages smell?
These questions are also common between new and seasoned hedgehog owners alike as they want to ensure they are caring for their pet correctly.
In this post, we will tackle both of these questions by looking at the views of experts in hedgehog care so you know exactly what to expect before bringing home a hedgie and how best to keep them clean and happy once they’re part of your family.
Before we get into detail, let’s answer the main questions in short but informative answer…
So do hedgehogs and hedgehog cages smell? Hedgehogs don’t naturally have a strong smell as they don’t have scent glands like a lot of other animals. If they do smell it’s usually down to poor diet or a dirty cage. Clean hedgehog cages with fresh bedding shouldn’t smell and if they do it’s usually due to the fact they need cleaning.
Read on to learn…
Do Hedgehogs Smell?
If you are thinking of potentially owning a hedgehog in the near future and you’re wanting to know if they smell then the good news is that hedgehogs are very low on the ‘odour scale’ for small animals and pocket pets.
This is largely due to the fact that hedgehogs don’t have scent glands to protrude overpowering smells as some animals do.
If you held a hedgehog right up to your nose then you would obviously be able to smell a natural mild odour but that’s all.
You certainly wouldn’t be able to smell a hedgehog if you entered a room and the room and they should never smell bad.
This doesn’t mean that hedgehogs can’t smell if certain things in their cage and diet aren’t as they should be.
Let’s take a look at the 4 things you need to get right in order to have a happy and healthy hedgie that doesn’t smell…
4 Simple Ways to Ensure Your Hedgehog Doesn’t Smell
As we mentioned above, a healthy hedgehog shouldn’t smell bad and should be nice to both hold and be in the same room as.
If your hedgie is starting to smell then there are 4 common reasons why this might be.
Luckily all 4 reasons are pretty easy to identify, change and start seeing results in a short period of time.
Below are the 4 simple ways to make sure your hedgehog doesn’t smell…
1. Keep Your Hedgehogs Cage Clean
While this might seem pretty obvious to keep the cage clean, not many people actually know that a dirty cage can actually cause your hedgehog to smell.
If your hedgie is smelling then it could be that you need to either up the rate of which you change their bedding or even give their cage a full clean.
So if your hedgie is giving off a little pong then your first port of call should be to investigate their cage and see if it needs to be cleaned out.
Remember that your hedgie will be urinating and pooping in their cage and they could be walking and even burrowing in their poop.
Having a regular schedule will eliminate this problem almost completely.
Later in the post, when we talk about how to keep your hedgies cage clean we actually go over exactly how often to change bedding and how often to perform a full clean.
The important thing to know for now is that the number one reason for hedgehogs smelling isn’t actually down to then but rather down to their living environment not being cleaned enough.
2. Eat Good Quality Food
Another big reason that hedgehogs can give off a bad odour is being fed a diet that isn’t considered healthy.
According to experts, hedgies need a balanced diet of 28-35% protein and 12-15% fat to be considered healthy.
There are lots of food that hedgehogs can eat but most of them don’t fall into this healthy nutrient base.
Eating food on the odd occasion that isn’t balanced it isn’t much of a problem but when the daily diet is out of balance then it’s another story.
As a result, feeding a poor or unbalanced diet can lead to an upset stomach and poop that smells really bad.
This, in turn, can cause your hedgie to smell and isn’t good for their overall long term health either.
We recommend feeding your hedgehog a diet that is specifically designed for them to eliminate this problem and keep their nutrients within the recommended guidelines set by the vets and experts.
We’ve listed the food, insects and more that are ideal for a healthy hedgehog in this post here and we strongly recommend you check it out if you’re not sure about their diet in any way.
3. Litter Box Training
Litter training your hedgehog is probably one of the best things you can do to ensure they smell odour free.
Even experts such as Pet-MD talk about using litter boxes for hedgehogs.
It will allow you to clean up their poop faster and will be less hassle.
Here’s a basic step by step tutorial of how to litter box train your hedgie…
1. Find your hedgehogs pooping patterns and where they most often poop in the cage (they will often poop in one corner or area)
2. Cut the top off a tissue box or similar to make a tray (litter box)
3. Purchase some dust-free litter and experts also recommend that it’s none clumping litter too, then and spread it in the tray
4. Place the tray where your hedgehog normally likes to poop
It really is as simple as that, however, it’s important to know that not all hedgies will use the litter box tray at first and some won’t even use it at all but it’s important to give it a go because it can make things much easier for you as an owner.
4. Give a Bath
Last but not least, if your hedgie is beginning to smell a little then you should give them a bath and restore them to their former fresh-smelling glory.
It’s important that you bathe in the correct way and don’t over bathe your hedgehog.
It’s important not to bath your hedgehog unless they need it and whilst researching for this post we found many veterinary outlets that advised to not bathe your hedgie unless they are actually dirty.
These outlets included the Small Animal Hospital who advised exactly this in a recent article they published about hedgehog care.
With all things considered, if your hedgehog has been walking in its own poop or burrowing in its urine then it’s acceptable to give them a bath for hygiene purposes but remember not to do it just for the sake of it.
Whilst on the topic of baths and water, you may be interested to know if hedgehogs can swim? Well, we’ve got the surprising answer for you in this post here!
Does a Hedgehog Cage Smell?
Anybody looking to own a hedgehog will also want to know if their cages smell and if so how much?
Again, it’s good news because a well-maintained hedgehog cage shouldn’t smell
If the cage does smell then it’s probably a sign that it’s ready for a clean anyway.
The only smell that could possibly be apparent could be that of the bedding you decide to use.
Some beddings have a light, natural smell and depending on what bedding you use this smell will differ.
(Shortly we will give our opinion on the best fresh smelling and softest bedding for hedgehogs.)
If you don’t keep the cage clean with a regular cleaning schedule as well as meeting other standard practices then their cage can start to smell bad.
I’m sure you can understand that this is exactly the same for any animal and not exclusive to hedgehogs.
3 Steps to Easily Keep Your Hedgehogs Cage Smelling Fresh
Keeping a hedgehog’s cage clean and smell free is easily achievable by first making a few good choices when it comes to things such as bedding.
Afterwards, it’s simply down to a good and regular cleaning schedule.
Below are the 3 ways to achieve this and keep your hedgies cage smelling fresh…
1. Regular Cleaning Schedule
It’s highly important that you have a daily and weekly schedule for cleaning your hedgehog’s cage.
The Vets at Pet-MD recommend that you thoroughly clean the cage at least once a week.
Having a set day to do this is the best option, maybe on your day off from work or on an evening when you have some free time.
The main thing is to get into a routine and if you think the cage needs cleaning more than the recommended once a week then so be it as your hedgies health and welfare is the most important thing.
You can find out in under 5 minutes everything you need to know about cleaning a hedgehog’s cage including what cleaning equipment to use in this recent easy to follow article we wrote.
You can use a playpen to house your hedgie whilst you give their cage a full clean.
It’s also a good time for them to play with some toys whilst out of their cage and use the time to give them some mental stimulation.
We recommend a large playpen like the one we talk about in this post as it will keep your hedgie safe while allowing them space to explore and play with toys.
If you’re not sure what toys are good for hedgehogs then they generally love bright and colourful toys that they can easily push or pull.
Or if you don’t want to have to do all the painstaking research you can simply take a look at our full list of recommending hedgehog toys in this post here
2. Spot Check The Bedding
We also recommend that you spot clean the cage daily to look for and remove faecal matter or food debris. Source:
We would also like to add to this by recommending that you do this at the same time each day.
This will encourage a habit to form and make the whole process much easier with less chance of you forgetting or having to rush at the last minute.
It’s well documented by many experts and vets that hedgies love to burrow.
In fact, we’ve recently written a post that covers everything you need to know about why hedgehogs burrow…
If their faecal matter isn’t removed daily then this means they’ve got a chance of burrowing in it.
This can not only make your hedgehog smell but it also causes the poop to get lost at the bottom of the cage until you do a weekly clean and remove all the bedding.
3. Good Bedding Choice
The actual choice of bedding you use will also have an effect on how the cage smells and how often it needs to be cleaned.
Some bedding choices such as wood chips, sphagnum moss or soil should be avoided due to the fact they are difficult to clean and this is backed up by Veteriankey who also states this.
Wood shaving can be a popular choice but they can be sharp and they tend to hold the smell of urine too.
We recommend using Carefresh as this is by far the best bedding for hedgehogs and pocket pets in general in our opinion.
In short, it contains low dust, it’s easy to clean and it’s super soft for burrowing too.