Clipping your hedgehog’s nails may seem like a difficult and intimidating job, but once you know what to do and get in a little practice, you’ll see that it really isn’t that hard. Use whatever nail clippers you are most comfortable with. I use a small child’s finger nail clipper, but a small scissors or a cat nail clipper may work just as well. If your hedgehog is from a breeder, then he or she is probably already familiar with this process. If not, then your job may be a bit harder and you may have to try a few different techniques.
Unkempt nails will grow long and begin to curl under. Once they curl, they may grow into the paw pad if they are not cut in time. Long nails are uncomfortable and make it difficult for your hedgehog to walk and wheel so proper care and maintenance is extremely important. Since different hedgehog’s nails will grow at different rates, it is best if you check them at weekly.
If you look closely at your hedgehog’s paw, you will notice that the tip of the nail is white and it becomes pink as you get closer to the paw. The pink part is a vein that is referred to as the quick. When you clip the claw, be careful to clip only the white part and not the pink. If you do nip the quick, do not panic. A little bit of pressure may be enough to stop the bleeding. A little flour or cornstarch applied to the tip of the claw will work if the bleeding is a little harder. If the bleeding appears heavy, or if you accidentally take off part of the hedgehog’s toe, go directly to the vet. Note that hedgehogs have thin blood, so you should deal with all nicks quickly and properly.
Once you have clipped your hedgehog’s nails a few times, they will get used to the process and it will become easier. Your first few attempts may be difficult for both of you and you may want to do only one paw at a time over several days.
If your hedgehog is upset and putting its quills up, you can try wrapping it in a towel so you don’t get poked. If the hedgehog keeps rolling up in a ball every time you grab its paws, try filling up the sink so that it has to swim. Allow 2-3 minutes of supervised swim time while the nails soften and become easier to clip. Gently grab one of the hedgehogs paws, hold it firmly, and clip the nails.