I am just going to say this right out, no hedgehog and no hedgehog owner I have ever met enjoys the task or experience of nail cutting. But it is one of those things that you have to find a way to get accomplished. Everyone has a method, I'm sharing mine here because it has been born of trial and error.
It is very important to inspect your hedgehogs nails often and cut them as needed. They can curl around and dig into the pad. Also long nails impede a hedgehogs ability to move about normally and wheel. Plus it's just neglectful. Even if you can only get a few done at a time, good! better that than not at all.
It's nice to start with a hog that has had their feet played with as a baby. We do this with ours play with their feet and nails, cut them if needed. Honestly though, this will make it easier not necessarily easy.
My recommend nail clipper is one designed for babies with the extra long handle. They are quiet, small and give you a lot of control over positioning.
You are going to find this kind of clipper in the human baby section of a store. Trust me this nail clipper may be your new best friend. You don't get your fingers stuck like in a cat nail clipper while your hoggo squirms away from the clipping. And unlike regular human nail clippers you will develop amazing precision.
I find the best way to start is with a foot soak, the same kind you would use for poop boots. I add an oatmeal bath powder or bomb. As long as I'm getting them wet I might as well use something nice for their skin. The foot bath is a good way to get your hedgie unballed and relaxed. Of course some enjoy this more than others, know your hedgehog.
Hedgehogs are more slippery when wet so you might want to test clipping nails with and without foot baths and see what works best for you and your hedgehog. Luci needs a good foot soak or I can forget about getting her nails, Ishtar I can just clip them. Get to know what works best for you is what gets the job done!
OK Next step I put my hog in my lap and get ready to cut. Be fast! or at least work on increasing your confidence and speed. Most Hedgehogs are not going to give you all day to cut a nail. I isolate the foot I want and the nail I am going to cut, then I snip, snip, snip, snip from toe to toe for as long as the hog cooperates with the process.
Here is Nandi (this isn't her happy face either) In this picture you can see how I have positioned her on my lap and isolated her foot and the nail I want to start with (inside the circle) - The Important thing is I have control of my hog and my clippers and I can see what I am doing. She isn't sitting still here, she is wiggly but I have control of her foot and body.
Tracie Got a good picture of what I am actually doing with my hands in this second shot. I'm supporting the hedgehog, holding the foot and I have control of the clippers. It takes two hands and patients to start again when your hedgehog gets away. Like most thing the more often you do it, the more likely your hog will put up with your stupid human demands.
OK what happens when you cut too short and see GASP! Blood!! Don't panic. It happens to everyone (seriously it does) what you want to have on hand is Styptic powder. Pet stores carry it, it's an essential item in your hedgie first aid kit and frankly the jar you buy will last the lifetime of your pet. If you don't have any just apply pressure to the nail end.
Have other questions? feel free to ask in the comments.