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Can Hedgehogs Swim?

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If you recently added a hedgehog to your life, or are planning to add one, you might be wondering – can hedgehogs swim?

After all, hedgehogs are popular for their distinct foraging techniques and it’s common for them to root on the ground to look for prey, such as insects, worms, mice, and snails. Who knows, maybe they also swim to forage.

Going back to our question, can hedgehogs swim?

Yes, hedgehogs can swim very well.

However, they don’t do it to survive, but for relaxation and pleasure. Although they can swim, there are certain dangers they may encounter while in the water, and we are going to tackle them later on.

In this article, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know before taking your hedgehog for a swim.

Human hands holding little african hedgehog pet outdoors on summer day

Can all hedgehogs swim?

Yes, all hedgehogs can swim, although some may be better swimmers than others.  While they usually swim for pleasure, it is believed that some hedgehogs paddle in the water to search for food.

These are mostly hedgehogs that live near bodies of water. Further, these nocturnal creatures can swim up to 2km at night to forage.

Those who live in deserts or dry lands, however, can still survive without swimming even once.

Although they are naturally good swimmers, hedgehogs need easy access to get in and out of the water. Having said that, man-made pools, which have high ledges and steps, may be too hard for them to climb out of. Meanwhile, creeks and rivers are a good choice for them to swim in.

Can hedgehogs float on the water?

Yes, hedgehogs are naturally buoyant, thanks to their strong quills that have air-filled chambers in them.

Hedgehogs will have to do their defensive posture – rolling themselves like a ball – before lying on their back and then their quills will do the job to keep them floating in the water.

Although they are buoyant, you might still need to supervise them while swimming as some dangers may arise while they’re in the water.

Do hedgehogs really need to swim?

As mentioned earlier, swimming is not important for hedgehogs to survive. Depending on their location, those who live near the bodies of water can choose to swim, while those with no access to water will not die for not being able to swim.

Do hedgehogs need to swim to keep themselves clean?

Hedgehogs are excellent self-groomers; therefore, they don’t need a bath to keep themselves clean. Like a cat, they will lick their bodies to clean themselves.

If in case they really get dirty which causes a smelly odor, that’s the time when you need to clean them in a tub or a shower.

The best temperature for your hedgehog to swim in is lukewarm. Hot water can burn their skin, while cold can cause them to be shocked and stressed.

After bathing them, make sure to dry them as well.

European hedgehog with colorful background near lake

Why does my hedgehog panic in the water while bathing?

It is common for hedgehogs to get a little nervous while bathing, some even go as far as pooping and peeing while in the water. But once they get used to this routine, they’ll eventually relax.

To introduce bathing to your hedgehog, start by placing them in a small tub of lukewarm water. Hold them by their belly, gradually putting them into the water while they get used to it.

To know if your hedgehog is already comfortable in the water, you may see his spines slowly relaxing as he floats in the water. This is the best time to start bathing them.

Can hedgehogs swim in the bathtub?

Yes, the bathtub is a common area for your hedgehog to swim. Just make sure that the water is lukewarm to prevent stress and discomfort for your hedgehog.

Can hedgehogs swim in the swimming pool?

Yes, hedgehogs can swim in the pool, but there are certain things you must need to know before getting them in the pool.

First, make sure that the water is not too cold or hot. If your hedgehog seems to be hesitant to get down in the pool, don’t force them. Pressuring them to go in the water may cause them to get panicked and stressed.

Understand that while they can stay afloat in the water, it will take some time for them to learn to paddle. Also, it is very important to stay with them while they’re in the water.

Hedgehogs get tired easily which may cause them to drown if left unsupervised.

After swimming in the pool, wash them with fresh water to wash off the chlorine that may damage their skin.

It’s also not ideal to let them swim in a pool with chlorine. Although you wash them afterwards, it will still not be beneficial for their skin in the long run.

How often and how long should I let my hedgehog swim?

Although your hedgehog may enjoy swimming, you should not let him swim every day as it will cause his skin to become dry. Twice or three times a month should be enough.

Regarding how long they should stay in the water, you should take him out of the pool after 10 to 15 minutes, while giving them a break every 30 seconds to a minute if they are new to this. Remember, they get tired very easily so don’t overdo it with swimming.

hoglet baby hedgehog on white background

Can baby hedgehogs swim?

Baby hedgehogs, or hoglets as we call them, can definitely swim. However, because they are not strong enough to paddle in the water, it’s not a good idea to just drop them in the pool and let them swim by themselves. They won’t probably enjoy the moment, and it will only cause stress.

Instead, it is highly suggested to put the hoglet in shallow water where they can walk without having to swim at all. This will get them slowly familiarized with the idea of swimming. For the next sessions, try to add more water and see if they can swim comfortably.

Just be patient and consistent with your pet. They’ll eventually figure it out later on. Of course, your supervision is needed at all times.

What are the dangers of allowing your hedgehog to swim?

Although they are naturally buoyant, there are still instances where it can be dangerous for your hedgehog to swim in the water.

First, remember that they are fearful creatures, and once they sense a threat while in the water, it will cause them to panic and roll their bodies with their spines facing outward. And as we may know already, their quills are the reason why they stay afloat on the water.

It’s also a common occurrence for hedgehogs to accidentally fall in the swimming pool causing them to panic. Therefore, instead of staying afloat in the water, they’ll get in the position where water can enter their nose and ears, causing them to drown.

This can also happen to wild hedgehogs who secretly sneak into your house at night. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to secure your pool with nets.

If the hedgehog is able to swim after falling in the water, getting exhausted from paddling is the reason why he may drown.

If you have a pond or a pool, it’s highly suggested to make a ramp that they can climb into to get out of the water, but the chances of them surviving alone is still not certain since they will need to travel far before reaching the exit.

With that said, supervision from their owners is still the best way to ensure that hedgehogs stay safe in the water.

Young European hedgehog on a human hand

What are the benefits of letting hedgehogs swim in the water?

Aside from pleasure, there are other benefits of allowing hedgehogs to swim in the water.

First, is it’s a good way to keep them fit. Hedgehogs are prone to getting obese, mainly because they don’t have an outlet to expel their energy.

Unlike wild hedgehogs that get exercise while foraging for food, hedgehogs that are held in captivity never have the chance to get proper amounts of exercise, which is why swimming is a good way to engage them in physical activity.

Not only does it help them to be physically fit, but swimming is also an excellent way to stimulate their minds.

While wild hedgehogs keep their mind stimulated by searching for food while also looking out for possible predators, in captivity, hedgehogs are only given meals to eat without having to worry about anything else which causes them to get bored.

Thus, engaging them with toys and physical activities is a great idea to keep them mentally stimulated, and swimming is a great choice.

Just keep in mind to take everything in moderation so that swimming will be a happy and enjoyable activity for them.

And that ends our article for today. If you find this article helpful, feel free to share it with your family and friends!