Tutorial: how to clip nails

Trimming a hedgehog’s nails is not an easy job, especially when a hedgehog rolls up quickly. Fortunately, there are many videos with a good explanation and we already know how to give you some good tips.


Always prepare yourself well when you plan to trim a hedgehog's nails. Make sure you have all the materials ready in advance so that you can easily grab everything when you are at it. This saves you, but also the hedgehog, a lot of stress.

Learn to 'scruff'

Scruffing is picking up the hedgehog with one hand around the hedgehog's back, grasping with the thumb and middle finger under the spine, at the level of the neck. This does not hurt the hedgehog, but prevents the hedgehog from using the dorsal muscles. These are the muscles that run down the back from the hedgehog's forehead to the tail and are used by the hedgehog to curl up. Try it a few times in a calm way before you want to cut the nails, so that it is a little easier when you want to cut the nails.

Have patience

Many hedgehogs find it very stressful to clip their nails, and there are hedgehogs who can get really wild with their paws. Assume that you are really busy trimming the nails, so plan a little more time for that. Then you don't have to stress yourself that it isn't going fast enough, and you help the hedgehog with that too.

Video: how to clip nails

The video above is from Hedgehogs of Asgard and she explains in great detail how to trim a hedgehog’s nails. The images also show it well, so a very nice video to get an idea how you can ‘scruff’ the hedgehog and cut the nails in a calm way. It takes some practice, so don’t give up too quickly!


If the above method does not work well, you can also use a fine grid and place the hedgehog on it, so that you can more easily reach the nails through the bottom of this without having to pick up the hedgehog. You do need someone to hold that schedule for you. A third way is to put the hedgehog in a layer of lukewarm water. Hedgehogs don't usually roll up in water and it's easier for you to lift the legs one by one and clip the nails. If it really doesn't work, you can also ask the vet to cut the nails for you.

Where you should clip

The nails of hedgehogs are very similar to those of hamsters. They are wafer thin and transparent. That makes cutting in the right place very easy, because you can easily see where the skin starts. That piece of skin under the nails has good blood circulation and we call it 'life' because that piece of bitches is very sensitive. Kind of like our fingernails. So you always want to cut in the transparent part, but close to life.

Types of nail clippers

Because a hedgehog's nails are so thin, cutting with rodent clippers intended for guinea pigs and rabbits is not a good idea. Dog nail clippers and many cat nail clippers are also not suitable. A better option are baby nail clippers or adult nail clippers! Especially the nail clippers that are placed at an angle are very useful. Kitten nail clippers are also possible, if you prefer to use special ones.

Help, i clipped a blood vessel!

No worries! It happens to almost every owner: the hedgehog is too active and you accidentally clipped in a blood vessel in the nail, causing the nail to bleed. These blood vessels have a very good blood supply and can continue to bleed a lot, but it is easy to solve. For the easiest way, use a product such as 'Nail Safe against nail bleeding'. It disinfects, relieves pain and stops bleeding. Another way is to put pressure on the nail so that the body has time to seal the wound with platelets. Fortunately, the nail bleeding is just a minor cut that quickly stops bleeding either way. Keep in mind hygiene: if you cut the nail during a bathing session in water and it starts to bleed, do not put the hedgehog back in the dirty water afterwards to prevent infections. Wait a few days for the wound to heal and then bathe the hedgehog again.