Do Hedgehogs Need Dust Baths?

fine-textured sand as hedgehog owner asks "Do Hedgehogs Need Dust Baths?"

Domesticated animals like hamsters and chinchillas rely on sandbaths to clean themselves. As a hedgehog owner, it is only natural to wonder whether sand baths can be beneficial for the health and well-being of your quill babies as well.

This article answers the question “Do Hedgehogs Need Dust Baths?” by revealing the pros and cons of allowing hedgehogs to play in sand baths. We also look into whether dust baths can minimize the need for water baths in hedgehogs and what signs to look out for to determine whether the hedgehog’s health and well-being is positively influenced by the exposure to dust baths.

Do Hedgehogs Need Dust Baths?

Hedgehogs love rolling in sandbaths as it reminds them of their behavior in the wild and helps condition their skin coat. Sand baths can also deter mite infestations and minimize poopy feet in hedgehogs leading to more playtime together with their human owners.

Hedgehogs enjoy spending time in sand baths because it could bring a lot of positives to their lives. If you’re thinking about introducing dust baths into their cages, there are numerous advantages that can sway your decision.

Reasons Why Sand Baths Are Good For Hedgehogs

Here are the top reasons why adding sandbaths to your hedgehog’s cage can be a good idea. It is up to you to analyze and decide whether these positives outweigh the potential negatives.

Sandbaths Result in Clean Hedgehog Bodies

clean looking hedgehog on a plastic tray after sandbathing

Dust baths can promote cleanliness in hedgehogs because maneuvering themselves not only helps them get rid of dust, poop, and debris but also eliminates related foul smells. Many experts recommend giving your hedgehogs a regular bath once or twice per month to encourage the highest standards of hygiene.

However, some hedgehogs love to play with dirt and may need more water baths regularly. Others also like to smear fecal matter on their bodies repelling your ability to play with them as much as you’d like to.

Unfortunately, hedgehogs cannot undergo regular water bathing because it may lead to dry, scaly, and generally unhealthy skin. Regular baths could also expose them to an increased risk of hibernation during winter and other colder periods of the year.

Gaining access to dust baths results in clean bodies devoid of dirt, poop, and other foul-smelling debris like soiled cage litter. The result is a more hygienic hedgehog with a healthier-looking skin coat and minimized risk of hibernating.

Playing in Dust Baths Can Improve Your Hedgehog’s Moods

Have you ever discovered hedgehogs playing in a dust bath? Their hyper demeanor can leave a lasting impression. Some hedgehogs may be naturally unfriendly and could shy away from human interaction no matter how hard you try.

However, playing in sand baths may improve their moods and make them look genuinely at peace. It is not uncommon for hedgehogs to head straight to their sand baths each night after waking up from bed even before checking in on their food bowls.

Spending time in dust baths can also help your hedgehog burn off extra calories especially if it is one of the few that hates running on exercise wheels for some reason. If your hedgehog’s running wheel is currently broken or too small for comfort, sand baths can provide some physical activity until the right wheel finally arrives.

Opportunity For Hedgehogs To Dig For Treats

Hedgehogs love digging for treats and what better way than to hide their favorites in their dust baths? As long as the sand bath is devoid of parasites and other disease-causing organisms, hiding edible treats can enhance their curiosity and spirits of adventure.

Hiding treats in your hedgehog’s sand bath could be beneficial for new hedgehogs that have just arrived in a new home. It can speed up their assimilation into the unfamiliar environment and help them warm up to their owners much quicker.

Reminds Them of Their Wild Behavior

hedgehog walking in the garden after foraging for food

Even domesticated hedgehogs love to be reminded of their time in the wild and allowing them to wallow in sand baths is one of the best ways to achieve that. Wild hedgehogs usually run around and bathe in sands to clean themselves and forage for food.

Bringing dust baths right into their cages can serve as a comfortable reminder of their ancestors’ wild period which may leave them much happier.

Sand Baths Promote Better Hedgehog Skin Conditioning

Constant playtime in sand baths could improve the hedgehog’s skin conditioning and make it less prone to weather changes. Colder weather typically causes dry, flaky skin in hedgehogs due to the fragile conditioning.

However, constant dust baths can remedy that by improving the overall health of the skin to withstand harsh climates.


Sand baths do not come without negatives for hedgehogs and a few pitfalls to watch out for are discussed below.

Dusty Male Genitals

Hedgehogs may spend extended periods of time playing in dust baths but unfortunately, this can make the genitals of the males dusty. Dusty genitals could be a source of discomfort for hedgehogs and in situations where the sand is infected with bacteria, the probability of urinary tract infections may be high.

Bacteria and Fleas

Playing in dust baths can expose hedgehogs to potentially harmful microorganisms like bacteria and fungus as well as fleas and mites. This could increase the risk of contracting various infections that may lower their quality of life and overall well-being.

Do Hedgehogs Need A Bath?

hedgehog being bathed in bath tub

Hedgehogs need water and mild soap baths once or twice a month depending on their level of physical activity and how dirty they get. Sand baths can be a great substitute for water baths due to their time-saving benefits for busy owners.

As long as your hedgehogs take a liking to the bath and spend more time in there, there’s a high probability of cleaning themselves thoroughly and getting rid of potential foul smells from physical contact with their pee and poop.

What is the Best Sand for Hedgehogs?

Hamster sand, child’s play sand, and any sand labeled for “Reptiles” or “Rodents” are the best for hedgehogs. Avoid chinchilla sand because they can be extremely dusty. Always choose a bag of sand with zero traces of dust, pathogens, or potentially harmful chemicals.

Avoid scooping sand from your backyard or the beach for your hedgehog’s cage because it may be full of disease-causing organisms that can expose your quill baby to severe infections. (Source)

Can You Use Sand For Hedgehog Bedding?

Hedgehog sand cannot be used as bedding because excessive exposure may lead to dusty genitalia which could increase the risk of inflammation and other problems for the hedgehog.

Conclusion: Do Hedgehogs Need Dust Baths?

Sand baths offer many advantages for hedgehogs including cleaning their bodies of dirt, pee, and poop. Spending time playing in the sand can also improve the hedgehog’s moods and make them familiarize themselves with new environments much quicker.

Additional benefits include creating foraging opportunities for hedgehogs to dig out treats in the sand while the constant maneuvering results in improved skin conditioning. The only downside is that the sand may get exposed to male hedgehogs’ genitals leading to inflammation and an increased risk of infections like UTIs.

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