Hedgehogs may occasionally visit your garden, or perhaps you have one living with you at home? If you have never paid attention to hedgehog poop before – now is the time!
A hedgehog’s poop, or droppings like they are also called, can reveal a lot about the health of that animal, and it can alert you when your hedgehog (or a visiting hedgehog) is sick.
We are about to dive deep (not literally) into everything you ever wanted to know about the hedgehog’s toilet habits, and you are about to learn more than you ever thought you would (and wanted) about hedgehog poop.
Why Hedgehog Poop Matters
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Hedgehog Poop Matters
- 2 The Pooping Habits of the Hedgehog
- 3 Can a Hedgehog Be Housetrained?
- 4 What Hedgehog Poop Looks Like
- 5 Abnormal Hedgehog Poop
- 6 What to Do When a Hedgehog Isn’t Pooping
- 7 Can You Compost or Fertilize with Hedgehog Poop?
- 8 Let’s Talk About Hedgehog Pee
- 9 Hedgehog Poop and Pee Concerns: When to See a Vet
- 10 Conclusion
There are many different reasons why you could benefit from not only recognizing hedgehog poop but also learning to determine whether the poop looks normal and healthy.
These skills will enable you to realize when you have a hedgehog visiting your garden, even if you are unable to spot the little animal itself, or if you have a hedgehog for a pet – identify any signs of illness.
Believe it or not, but it is not unusual to have a hedgehog living in your yard for years without even realizing it, and for the untrained eye, hedgehog droppings could easily be confused with rat poop or the excrement of another small mammal.
The Pooping Habits of the Hedgehog
To properly identify hedgehog droppings and to fully understand when a pet hedgehog’s bathroom habits are out of the ordinary – we first have to have a look at how, when, and where a healthy hedgehog poops.
Once you know how hedgehogs normally poop, it becomes easier to pick up on changes and abnormalities in their bowel movements.
How Much Does a Hedgehog Poop?
To say that a hedgehog poops a lot is an understatement because the truth is that hedgehogs poop almost constantly. Pet hedgehogs require you to clean their cage frequently to remove left-behind excrement, while it might be less noticeable in the wild where they can walk away from the evidence, so to speak.
It is impossible to state exactly how often hedgehogs poop, but the closest you can get is almost to say that they are pretty much always pooping.
Don’t be surprised if your pet hedgehog goes number two a lot more often than what other animals do – there is nothing wrong with your spikey little friend, and it is just what hedgehogs do.
Young Hedgehogs Poop More Often
Age does play a role when it comes to poop frequency, and baby hedgehogs tend to poop more than they do when they are adults. Many owners of pet hedgehogs jokingly call them “poop machines,” which is a very accurate name for these little guys.
As the hedgehog grows older you are likely to notice a decrease in potty action, something that is both normal and expected. Still, adult hedgehogs also poop. A lot.
Food and Nutrition
All hedgehogs are different, and your hedgehog might poop significantly more often than your neighbor’s hedgehog or the hedgehog you had as a kid. What you feed a hedgehog or what it eats in the wild also plays a part in how often it needs to go number two. Nutrition is highly relevant.
You may have heard that if a dog poops a lot, it can be a sign of poor quality dog food, where a big portion passes right through with little nutrition being absorbed by the body. There is some truth to that also with hedgehogs, but it is much harder to tell considering how often they go potty.
If you are unsure whether your hedgie could do with a food upgrade, the best strategy is to reach out to a veterinarian with hedgehog experience.
Not every veterinarian has reliable knowledge of hedgehog nutrition and you could end up having to do some research, or look for a pet store with hedgehog expertise.
Where Do Hedgehogs Like to Poop?
A very common question people have is why their hedgehog keeps pooping on them? Perhaps you like to pick up your little friend and hold him in your hand or sit him on your lap, but every time you do, he poops on you? If you have kids you may have heard them yell “Mom, why does my hedgehog poop on me?”
It’s a good question! What is the deal with that?
The answer is simple. Hedgehogs like to poop when they are active and doing something. In the wild, it is not unusual for them to poop while they are walking, and they are not like us, humans, in a way that they stop when they feel the need to look for a bathroom.
Hedgehogs poop when they need to poop, even if it happens to be on you.
It could even be a good sign when a hedgehog poops on you – it means the hedgehog is comfortable enough to relax and let itself go… YAY!
Here’s an article I wrote about the hedgehog’s habitat.
Can a Hedgehog Be Housetrained?
Can you teach a hedgehog to use the bathroom in one specific spot? Funny enough, you can! Hedgehogs can be litter trained, and you can use this to have them poop in a specific spot inside their cage, or in a designated area in your house.
The easiest way to do this is to start out by filling the whole cage with litter and to have the hedgehog get used to pooping in the litter.
Little by little you will then remove litter from the cage and replace it with fleece or similar material until you only have litter in one small part of the cage – the part where you would ideally want your hedgehog to poop.
This is a slow process that can take a long time, but persistence and patience tend to be key. Once you have litter trained your hedgehog inside its cage, you can place a small litter box in your home for when the hedgehog is loose.
Remember, not all hedgehogs can be perfectly litter box trained and some never get the hang of it, but it could be worth a try if you want to avoid having hedgehog poop all over the house. Set your expectations low to avoid disappointment, and try it with an open mind.
What Hedgehog Poop Looks Like
For someone who has a hedgehog at home, recognizing hedgehog poop is easy! However, if you have noticed droppings in your yard, then you might be interested in knowing whether you have a hedgehog, rabbits, or rats.
Hedgehog droppings are shaped like small cylinders, and some even call them little sausages, which is hilariously accurate. If you find round droppings, flat droppings, or similar, those are likely not from a hedgehog, as a hedgehog poop looks more like a dark-colored or black little slug on your lawn.
Size varies, and the poop of a wild hedgehog is not going to be the same as the size of a pygmy hedgehog poop, but you can expect these slimy little sausages to measure approximately 1.5-5 centimeters depending on the size of the hedgehog itself.
If you are looking at the poop from a healthy hedgehog, the color should be black or dark brown. There can be shiny aspects to hedgehog poop, which is a result of parts of an insect-based diet (such as beetles) coming back out. Color variations do exist. However, any color that strays too much from standard might be a cause for concern.
Yes, hedgehog poop does smell, and despite it coming from such a small animal – the smell can be quite noticeable. It is also common for the hedgehog itself to start smelling like poop, which is a result of it often pooping while it is walking around or playing on its wheel.
Pet hedgehogs then end up walking in their own excrement, which leads to the smell.
Stinky Hedgehog Poop – Is It Normal?
It is perfectly normal for hedgehog poop to stink, unfortunately, but some hedgehogs are known for having stinkier poop than others. The exact reason remains undetermined, but it could likely be a result of what they eat.
If your hedgehog has extremely stinky poop, you can always try to experiment with more vegetables and greens to see if it makes a difference, or consider switching to a higher quality hedgehog food brand.
You also might want to read my article about Hedgehog bathing. Just in case.
Abnormal Hedgehog Poop
Now that we have established what hedgehog poop usually looks like, it is time to have a look at what it shouldn’t look like. Keeping an eye on your hedgehog’s droppings is a great way to monitor his or her health, as poop can say a lot about the health condition of any animal (including us humans).
Runny Hedgehog Droppings
The loose stool could potentially be a sign of illness in hedgehogs, and it is something you will want to keep an eye on. Their droppings should be firm and hard, and not loose or runny. The occasional runny stool most likely isn’t a cause for concern, and especially if you have recently changed their food or given out a new snack.
If the runny droppings or diarrhea persists, though, it is probably time for a trip to the vet. Parasites, both internal and external, can cause diarrhea, and your hedgehog will need a fecal exam done at the vet office.
Also, keep in mind that persistent diarrhea can cause dehydration in hedgehogs, which is yet another reason to keep yourself updated on the consistency of the hedgehog’s droppings. Acting like the hedgehog poop police may not sound like fun, but it could save your hedgehog’s life if it ever falls ill.
What happens if you suddenly discover that your hedgehog is pooping green? Strangely colored poop can be a sign of a medical condition, but it could also be a result of a food change, medication, or anything else. Green poop is actually not too uncommon in hedgehogs, and it can be caused by irritation in the gastrointestinal system, stress, and more.
Other colors like black, light brown, red, or white could also be a cause for concern, and we recommend a trip to the vet if your pet hedgie starts leaving droppings with a strange color. There is usually no need to panic, but if it continues for a couple of days or more then it could certainly warrant a checkup.
Remember, healthy hedgehog poop should be dark brown or black in color, possibly with visible bug parts in it, as well as hard and firm.
What to Do When a Hedgehog Isn’t Pooping
Many hedgehog owners freak out when they realize their pet isn’t pooping, and this is understandable considering how much a hedgehog normally poops. Should you panic if your hedgehog isn’t pooping? At first, no. Constipation that lasts for only a day or so isn’t usually a cause for concern.
Once you notice the cage being clean or your hedgehog not having pooped for a few hours, the first thing you can do is to try and help with potential constipation. Pure pumpkin purée (not pie filling, as it contains sugar, and only 100% pumpkin purée) can help with both diarrhea and constipation, and you can try and see if your hedgehog will eat it.
Keep the Hedgehog Hydrated
You also need to make sure the hedgehog is drinking water to prevent it from becoming dehydrated, and the smartest thing you can do is to keep a close eye on the hedgehog’s water supply. The water should be changed frequently so that the hedgehog always has access to clean water, as some hedgehogs can be picky with water cleanliness.
Activity and a Warm Bath
Okay, so now you have tried pumpkin purée and the hedgehog is drinking. What’s next? Try to get it to be a bit active, as it could help kickstart the stomach, and you can even consider giving your hedgehog a nice and warm (not too warm) bath.
Go to the Vet
These types of issues should ideally resolve themselves within 24-48 hours, but if a couple of days pass without any significant improvement, then your hedgehog needs to be seen by a vet. Medication might be needed to cure serious constipation. It could also be a sign of something slightly more serious, such as an obstruction.
Can You Compost or Fertilize with Hedgehog Poop?
The question pops up over and over again: Can I use hedgehog poop to fertilize my yard? The other question is whether it can be added to your compost. In both cases, the answer isn’t quite clear, but many advise against it as hedgehogs are carnivores.
Hedgehogs eat bugs and small animals, which means their poop may contain pathogens that would not be beneficial for your yard or vegetable garden. It is generally said that only poop from herbivores is truly useful for composting and fertilizing plants, and if this is true then the hedgehog does not qualify.
It is up to you what you choose to do with your hedgehog poop, but looking at it this way, it seems like it might be best to simply throw it away whenever you clean the hedgehog cage.
Is It Safe to Handle Hedgehog Poop?
When it comes down to it, hedgehog poop is still poop, even if it is small. Always wash your hands carefully after handling hedgehog poop, as the droppings can carry bacteria such as salmonella, which can be transmitted to the hedgehog, other hedgehogs, or to the surrounding environment.
There are instances where humans have gotten sick after handling a hedgehog, but this tends to be a result of failure to take proper precautions or failure to apply appropriate sanitary measures after handling the animal.
See, hedgehogs have the annoying habit of stepping in their own poop, something that essentially means that whatever bacteria is in their poop is something they might also have on their body. When you touch your hedgehog – it ends up on your hands.
That said, hedgehog poop isn’t toxic and it only requires regular precaution. Keep the cage clean, clean up any droppings left behind while the hedgehog is out roaming the house, wash your hands, and use common sense. After all, it’s poop.
Do Hedgehogs Fart?
Like a lot of animals, hedgehogs do fart. And just like you might expect, it’s both smelly and sometimes even noisy.
A hedgehog farting isn’t necessarily a sign of bad health. Nor is the smell. These things are simply normal parts of having a pet hedgehog.
Hedgehogs fart at all times. They’ve got no problems doing so while eating, and sometimes while being bathed, their farting might be clearly visible due to small bubbles coming to the surface!
Let’s Talk About Hedgehog Pee
We have covered pretty much everything there is to know about hedgehog poop, but we might as well have a look at hedgehog pee while we are at it! Hedgehogs poop, we have already established that, but you probably already know that they also pee.
Recognizing Hedgehog Pee
Unsurprisingly, there is no reliable way to distinguish hedgehog pee from the pee of other species, so in such a situation you would have to resort to looking at the poop. You can usually see hedgehog pee in a cage, though, as they leave wet spots that take a while to soak up.
In the wild, however, you are unlikely to ever see hedgehog pee, unless you happen to see the hedgehog committing the act right there in front of you. It absorbs so quickly into the ground, and it won’t be helpful when trying to determine whether you have a hedgehog living in your yard.
The Smell of Hedgehog Urine
The smell of hedgehog pee can be quite strong, but it smells no different than hamster pee, rabbit pee, rat pee, or any other cage animal, due to the cages often being filled with similar materials. If you are wondering whether you will smell it, though, the answer is yes,
Frequent cleaning is required to prevent your hedgehog and its pee from stinking up the house, and it is one of the reasons why many owners opt for having their hedgehog cages in a room separate from the regular living quarters of the home.
We keep getting back to the same, but a change in smell is worth paying attention to. Some report that hedgehog pee can start smelling almost like ammonia as they get closer to the end of their lives, but this is more of a theory and hasn’t actually been proven.
To put it out there though: smelly hedgehog pee is not abnormal or a cause for concern – pee smells bad no matter the species it comes from, and especially if the cage is kept in a warmer temperature. An unusual or different smell, however, could potentially be the indicator of a health issue that requires medical care.
Discolored Hedgehog Pee
While healthy pee can be hard to detect, discolored pee is something you will likely notice right away. Hedgehog pee should be clear or yellow, and you should react if you notice it is darker than usual, brown, or even have blood in it. Neither of these is ever good or considered normal.
Hedgehogs can develop cystitis, which you may or may not be aware of, as well as urinary tract diseases and bladder stones. Discolored pee with or without blood in it can be a symptom of either, and it is likely not something that will go away on its own without treatment.
How Much Does a Hedgehog Pee?
Knowing how much a hedgehog poops might have led you to believe that it should also pee a lot, which could cause worry and concern when you realize that your hedgehog only seems to be peeing a few times a day! Is this normal? Yes, it is.
Funny enough, hedgehogs tend to poop a lot more than they pee (and not the other way around, which tends to be the case with many other animals), which explains why you are likely to only find a couple of pee spots in the litter once you wake up in the morning, even if the hedgehog has been active at night.
As long as you are sure that your hedgehog is drinking water then this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. On the other hand, if a hedgehog would suddenly start peeing a lot more than it usually does – that could be something worth looking into or at least keeping an eye on.
Find Out Where Hedgehogs Like to Pee
When you set up a hedgehog cage you want to make sure to give your little buddy a designated place to use the bathroom. Hedgehogs generally aren’t fans of peeing where they eat, which should be encouraged considering all the sanitary aspects, and the best solution is to drop food in one corner of the cage and have the toilet spot in the other.
As mentioned above: Hedgehogs can be taught to poop in a certain area, and this is true also for peeing. The internet is full of tutorials that provide step-by-step instructions for how to properly potty train a hedgehog. (like the video below). It sounds funny, a house-trained hedgehog, but it can be incredibly convenient when it comes to cleaning.
It requires patience and effort on your part, yes, but this is the perfect example of when hard work truly does pay off. A hedgehog will make a much more enjoyable pet when you know where it is likely to go pee, and it will also help the hedgehog stay clean and prevent it from reeking of pee and poop.
Hedgehog Poop and Pee Concerns: When to See a Vet
The general rule is that when something changes, and if those changes persist for more than a couple of days, then it is time to see a vet.
No two hedgehogs are the same and you may see differences in color and appearance of the poop when comparing the droppings from two different animals, but if your hedgehog suddenly starts having diarrhea, if the droppings change color or if it smells different – it is time for a checkup.
It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to hedgehogs because while they are considered fairly resistant, they do get sick. You will have to make sure that your vet is experienced in hedgehog- and small animal care, to make sure you get the help you need from the moment you walk through those doors.
Hedgehogs are small animals that poop a lot, and you can expect to have to clean frequently if you have a pet hedgehog at home. These clever little animals can be litter trained, similar to a cat, but it takes patience and dedication.
Don’t be surprised if your hedgehog seems to be pooping constantly, as it is perfectly normal, and expect young hedgehogs to poop even more. The bad news is that hedgehog poop can be stinky, which serves as a good reminder to clean up frequently.
Learning how to distinguish hedgehog poop is beneficial if you think you have one living in your yard, and having the ability to recognize healthy vs. unhealthy hedgehog poop can save the life of your pet in the case of illness.
Hedgehogs are master poopers that poop frequently, but their poop is also the ideal indicator of their general wellbeing.