Are Hedgehogs Born Swimmers? [Underwater, Floating, etc.]


If you’ve found your way here, you’re curious about our spiky little friends and their swimming skills. Specifically, you’re wondering: “Are hedgehogs good swimmers?

We all know that hedgehogs are terrestrial creatures who are known for their quills and unique behaviors. But there’s more to the story than you might think when it comes to swimming.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into understanding the relationship between hedgehogs and water. We’ll cover everything from their underwater abilities to their floating skills.

Along the way, we’ll also talk about their quills, which play an essential part in hedgehog’s swimming ability.

Quick Answer

Yes, hedgehogs are surprisingly good swimmers, but their abilities largely depend on their individual comfort level and specific conditions.

They have a natural inclination to float due to their air-filled quills and can swim short distances if necessary. However, they aren’t natural swimmers, and regular exposure to deep water isn’t ideal.

It’s important to be cautious and supervise them around water bodies.

All About Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are small, insectivorous mammals known for their distinctive quills, or spines. They’re native to parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and were introduced to New Zealand.

There are about 17 species of hedgehogs, with sizes ranging from 4 to 12 inches (approximately 10 to 30 cm).

These creatures lead a predominantly nocturnal lifestyle and their diet primarily consists of insects, although they’ll occasionally enjoy fruits, vegetables, and small animals as well.

They are solitary by nature, and are famously known for their defense mechanism – rolling into a tight ball to display a coat of sharp quills when threatened.

Did you know hedgehogs have a unique ability to self-anoint?

They create a frothy saliva when they encounter new scents, which they spread over their quills. The exact reason for this behavior is unknown, but it’s one of the many aspects that make hedgehogs so intriguing!

Hedgehogs prefer environments with a lot of ground cover for protection against predators. While they’re comfortable in various habitats – from forests and meadows to suburban gardens – they are mostly terrestrial and do not naturally live near water bodies.

Do Hedgehogs Like Water?

While we now understand that hedgehogs aren’t naturally aquatic creatures, it’s time to answer another question: “Do hedgehogs like water?”

As it often is with living creatures, the answer depends on the individual hedgehog.

Generally speaking, hedgehogs do not have a particular affection for water. They don’t require it for their habitat like a turtle or a frog would. But that doesn’t mean they’re afraid of it.

On a hot day, for instance, they might appreciate a shallow pan of water to cool off.

One common practice among hedgehog owners is giving their pets baths. The reactions can vary – some hedgehogs might appear to enjoy their bath time, paddling around and exploring the water.

Others may not be quite as thrilled. But most hedgehogs can tolerate being bathed and it’s a good way to keep them clean, as long as the water is not too deep and the temperature is lukewarm.

Remember, though, that the comfort and safety of your hedgehog is paramount. Never force your hedgehog into water if it’s showing signs of distress.

Always supervise them around water and ensure they have a way to get out if they need to.

Can Hedgehogs Swim?

The time has come to tackle the million-dollar question, “Can you let your hedgehog swim?” The answer, in short, is yes – but with some important caveats.

Hedgehogs do have the ability to swim, and they can do so reasonably well for short periods. Their hollow quills help them float, and they paddle with their little legs to move around in the water.

However, it’s essential to remember that they’re not natural swimmers like ducks or beavers.

Swimming for hedgehogs is more about survival than leisure. In the wild, they might need to cross small streams or ponds occasionally, and their swimming ability comes into play there.

But these are generally short-distance swims and they’ll seek to get back to dry land as quickly as possible.

Regarding pet hedgehogs, owners should be very careful about introducing their prickly pals to swimming.

Always supervise your hedgehog around water, keep the water depth very shallow, and never leave your hedgehog in water without a sure way to get out.

Swimming can be stressful and exhausting for hedgehogs, so it’s important to let them rest and warm up afterward.

Underwater Abilities and Floating Skills

Now that we’ve confirmed hedgehogs can swim, let’s delve deeper into their underwater abilities and floating skills.

To start with, hedgehogs are buoyant. This is largely thanks to their quills, which are filled with air. These hollow structures act like tiny life vests, helping hedgehogs to float.

You could say that a swimming hedgehog is a bit like a tiny, spiky boat bobbing along on the water.

But what about going underwater?

Hedgehogs can submerge briefly, but they’re not built for diving or staying underwater for a significant time. They don’t have gills or the ability to hold their breath for long periods, so prolonged underwater activity could be harmful and potentially fatal.

When it comes to actual swimming, hedgehogs use a doggy-paddle style of motion. They move their legs in a manner that propels them through the water, albeit not very efficiently or quickly.

This is a survival instinct, not a recreational activity.

Given their unique swimming style and buoyancy, hedgehogs are better at floating and moving short distances in water than diving or performing underwater feats.

To put it simply, a hedgehog in the water is more akin to a floating cork than a diving dolphin.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Before we wrap up, let’s address some of the frequently asked questions about hedgehogs and their relationship with water.

Q1. Can I bath my hedgehog?

Yes, you can bath your hedgehog, but it should be done sparingly, using warm water and mild soap. Always ensure the water is shallow and your hedgehog can touch the bottom of the bath.

Never leave your hedgehog unattended during bath time.

Q2. How often should I bathe my hedgehog?

Typically, once a month is enough. However, if your hedgehog gets particularly dirty or has skin issues, you may need to bathe them more frequently. Always consult with a vet if you’re unsure.

Q3. Can my hedgehog swim in a pool?

It’s not recommended to let your hedgehog swim in a pool. The chlorine and other chemicals can be harmful to their skin and eyes. Plus, pools are typically too deep and can pose a risk of drowning.

Q4. My hedgehog seems scared of water, what should I do?

Some hedgehogs may not like water and can get stressed during baths or swimming. If this is the case, try using less water or give them more time to get used to it.

If they continue to show signs of distress, it’s best to avoid water activities altogether.

Q5. Can hedgehogs drown?

Yes, hedgehogs can drown in water that is too deep, and they can’t get out. Always supervise your hedgehog around water, keep the water shallow, and provide a way for them to get out easily.


There you have it – your comprehensive guide to hedgehogs and their relationship with water. Although they aren’t natural swimmers, hedgehogs can swim in certain circumstances.

However, these adorable creatures are not equipped for lengthy or frequent swimming sessions. Their unique quills help them float, but their underwater abilities are quite limited.

Above all, the safety and comfort of your hedgehog should always be paramount. If you’re a hedgehog owner, always closely monitor their interaction with water and never leave them unattended.

If your little friend seems distressed or scared, avoiding water activities’s probably best.

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