Can Hedgehogs Swim? [Interesting Facts]

Yes, Hedgehogs can swim, and believe it or not are pretty talented at swimming given their shape and size. It sounds unlikely given the fact a large number of hedgehogs die in swimming pools every year, but the truth is hedgehogs are strong swimmers in comparison to similar animals and have been seen swimming up to a kilometer at a time. Hedgehogs are also naturally buoyant which helps them swim without tiring too quickly. Think of swimming with a life ring as opposed to nothing at all.

Hedgehogs don’t exactly look like the most capable swimmers but you will be surprised. If you didn’t know already hedgehogs are full of special abilities, maybe not quite as many as Sonic but they can indeed climb, run and swim. In this article, we are gonna break down the watery expertise of these little spikey balls. 

a hedgehog swimming in a pool

Are Hedgehogs Strong Swimmers?

So we know Hedgehogs have the ability to swim but are they “strong swimmers“? The truth is hedgehogs naturally know how to swim but have limited ability, despite the fact that some have been able to swim over a kilometer. The main problem is that hedgehogs become exhausted quickly when swimming. Their legs provide a very small surface area and are unable to effectively pull the water backward to create motion.

cute hedgehog in a ball

It’s not uncommon to find hedgehogs who have drowned in swimming pools or garden ponds, the reason is not that they cannot swim but because there is no surface for them to exit safely. Consider making a ramp in which hedgehogs can enter and exit easily. Hedgehogs tend to jump first and ask questions later. It’s worth considering that our little spiky friends are not always the smartest. We really do need to make it as easy as possible for these guys because it seems most of the time they want to make life hard for themselves.

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Are Hedgehogs Naturally Buoyant?

Yes, hedgehogs are naturally buoyant. The reason why hedgehogs are buoyant is that their quills are filled with air. These little quills contain tiny little chambers which help hedgehogs remain afloat.  Think of it like hedgehogs have a little built-in lilo, they can flip to their back and take in the scenery with no effort required. Please also take into account that hedgehogs only seem to float on their back when they are calm and relaxed. A panicking hedgehog is unlikely to adopt this position.

Can hedgehogs swim?

Do Hedgehogs Like Swimming?

A controversial topic! Let me first start off by explaining not all hedgehogs are the same. They have different personalities, some hedgehogs like certain things whilst others don’t. Anyone who has ever kept hedgehogs will understand. Many people have different views on this topic and many have fiercely debated both sides.

This is a video in response to a viral video of hedgehogs swimming. This video shows two hedgehogs swimming in a sink. You can see one of the hedgehogs is distressed, panicking, and flipping around.

In this case, Taylor (The creator) was right, the hedgehog in the video was clearly scared for its life. The owner was careless and uneducated but does that mean all hedgehogs hate swimming?

I personally don’t think so.

Another Youtuber uploaded a popular video of his own hedgehogs swimming “CUTE Hedgehog Swim Compilation!”. The author went on to write a lengthy reply to the negative attention. Earthling went out to say he had kept and bred hedgehogs for over 10 years in addition to being a veterinary technician. In over 3000 baths and swim sessions, he had never experienced a single ear infection or illness. He finishes the post by claiming she is spreading false information and that everyone should do their own detailed research.

From my own personal experience with hedgehogs, I think it’s safe to conclude that SOME hedgehogs do like to swim and some clearly hate and fear it. Don’t force it upon them if they don’t want it, and maybe ask yourself why you’re trying to get them to swim in the first place.

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Can I Give My Hedgehog a Bath?

Hedgehogs will swim to satisfy their hunger however hedgehogs don’t naturally bathe in water. Hedgehogs have naturally oily skin and bathing in water can unsettle their composition although this is disputed by some owners. Hedgehogs clean themselves by taking dust baths, a commonly used technique by many similar animals. Personally, I feel it’s better to let animals act as naturally as possible when it comes to certain habits.

cartoon of hedgehog in a bath

If you still want to bathe your hedgehog please consider the following things;

  • Never ever apply shampoo, soap, or any other chemical product on the hedgehog, like previously mentioned this can have a negative effect on the hedgehog’s skin, including allergic reactions. Some products can be used but please do intensive research into which products are safe. (Generally not advised)
  • How does my hedgehog react to the water? Are they comfortable or do they panic?
  • Ideally have a shallow depth in which the hedgehogs can stand if needed.
  • Don’t deliberately get water in the hedgehog’s mouth, eyes or ears. Many owners claim this increases the risk of infections.
  • Allow the hedgehog to dry naturally or use a warm towel, never use a hairdryer directly on the body of the hedgehog as it might be too hot and burn our little friend.
  • Most important of all! Supervise and pay close attention to your hedgehogs and ensure they are comfortable and not panicking or even drowning.

How to Rescue a Drowning Hedgehog

Even if you’re careful and set up your pond so that it has multiple points of exit for a hapless hedgehog, accidents can still happen. If there are good exits and the hedgehog is floating happily or swimming around, you can take the opportunity to watch. It will likely make its own way out when ready.

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As previously mentioned you can set up your pool in the safest way possible for hedgehogs to enter and exit but that doesn’t always mean our little friends are intelligent enough to remember the way out. If you are concerned that your hedgehog is panicking or finding swimming difficult you can help them out by offering them some kind of stable object to climb onto such as a stick. Lifting them out of the water with your hands will most likely prove difficult so try to use some kind of object to lift them out.

Here is a more detailed guide on rescuing hedgehogs in different situations.

Do Hedgehogs Hate Water?

Yes, some hedgehogs hate water and will avoid it given the choice. Like we said previously although they can swim they aren’t exactly the best swimmers and can struggle in water at times. While a lot of hedgehogs do not like they can adapt to it if needed and some pet hedgehogs eventually learn to enjoy playing in warm shallow water with a little bit of training.

Final Note

Hedgehogs are capable swimmers but by no means the best. Most hedgehogs drown in swimming pools and lakes not because they are unable to swim but because they are usually unable to get out of the water. If you own an outdoor swimming pool and you are worried about your local wild hedgehogs or even own pet hedgehogs consider installing some kind of ramp to them get out of the water without drowning.