Just like other small pets, hedgehogs need their nails trimmed down about once per week. If a hedgehog’s nails are left untrimmed for too long, the nails can become long and curvy. At a certain point nails can even begin to grow underneath your hedgehog’s foot and then back through – to a point where the flesh of the foot will be pierced. This can lead to serious pain and discomfort on the part of your hedgehog. For this reason, never leave nails untrimmed for too long – although if you have to prioritize – trim the rear feet first as these nails grow fastest.
Nail clipping can be especially tricky with hedgehogs considering they have a tendency to curl up into a ball. The trick is to find a situation where they are not willing to ball up. Some people have luck doing this while their hedgehog is in the bath. Others have luck trimming while their hedgehog is distracted doing something else (like anointing), still sleeping from a nap, or partially covered by a blanket so he or she does not know what you are doing.
While nail trimming is tricky, especially for beginners, you do not need to buy any special equipment. Any small nail clippers will work. To trim your hedgehog’s nails, grasp one paw and then using the clippers, gently take the top of each nail off.
The most important key is to avoid cutting their nails so short that the “quick” – a vein that runs down the center of nail – becomes cut. This can lead to bleeding and pain on the part of your hedgehog. It is generally a good idea to keep some “quik-stop” on hand just in case of emergencies. Quik-stop can be found at most pet stores and can be very useful as a single application will stop bleeding right away.
Afterwards, always reward with a favorite snack to encourage good behavior.