Before you start your pet hedgehogs’ journey, you better know the answer to the question “are hedgehogs illegal in California?”
I looked across the written literature about exotic animals and what the California Code of Regulations says regarding owning a pet without permits.
Curious? Read on to know more.
Can You Own a Hedgehog in California?
Even though it is possible to get a hedgehog in California as a pet. The answer to the question “are hedgehogs illegal in California” is that it’s against the law.
The 14th California Code of Regulation 671 talks about the “Importation, Transportation, and Possession of Live Restricted Animals.” (1)
Under section (a), it states that “It shall be unlawful to import, transport, or possess live animals restricted in subsection (c) below except under a permit issued by the department.”
Hedgehogs are among the listed illegal animals to own that fall under category D of the code mentioned above.
Other animals that are illegal according to the 14th California Code of Regulation 671 include moles, shrews, and wild animals such as wild squirrels and wolf hybrids.
What else is prohibited? California also prohibits dangerous animals and venomous reptiles.
These include Burmese pythons, African rock pythons, reticulated pythons, Indian pythons, brown tree snakes, coral snakes, and green snakes.
Mole salamanders, night lizards, collared lizards, leopard lizards, ground squirrels, European ferrets, deer mice, and white-tailed deer are not allowed according to Exotic Animal Laws.
If you want to own a hedgehog there are very strict laws that exclude your average pet owners.
For most people, the only way to get a permit to own a hedgehog is for educational purposes or from an animal facility registered and approved, such as Safaris and Zoos.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife or The Game and Fish Commission issues special permits to the exempted institutions and people.
There would be a long list of requirements and veterinary inspections that you have to comply with before they grant you special permits.
You might be thinking right now, ‘what exotic animals are legal in California?’ but sadly, a hedgehog isn’t one of them.
But how about sugar gliders. Can you own a sugar glider in California?
If you want to know more about what other pets are illegal in California, check out this video.
Why Are Hedgehogs Illegal in California?
Why would they declare these adorably harmless animals illegal?
Famous hedgehog Tiktoker timo_and_peter shared in their Tiktok video that there is one main reason why hedgehogs are illegal in California — Ecosystem Preservation.
They jokingly said that “California hates joy.”
Kidding aside, let me explain further. These exotic animals came from different parts of the world. European hedgehogs made it across New Zealand and Australia.
However, they are not native species and are not part of the native wildlife of California. This nonhuman wild animal doesn’t even have domesticated races in the US.
Your thoughts could be, so what? It’s time to bring them here and make domestic hybrids. They are harmless, and they make pet material, anyway.
The Fish and Wildlife Service worries that hedgehogs do not have natural predators.
If released into the wild, these non-human animals will affect the ecosystem’s sustainability.
They would grow in numbers if they had few predators. This would frighten and disturb other animals, possibly causing them to become endangered.
Because they are known to be highly invasive and dangerous animals, they would feed on a variety of lizards, insects, and native reptiles.
That will have a massive impact on the ecological balance of California.
Ecological balance is the same reason why sugar gliders are illegal in California.
So, why would they make it to the wild if you’ll keep them at home?
The Fish Department considers the possibility of your pet escaping. It’s not a risk the government wants to take.
This video goes into more depth as to why these cute animals are illegal in California.
Check out this video if sugar gliders are legal in your state.
What if I Get Caught Having a Hedgehog in California?
You’re willing to take the risk, huh?
If you’re still not convinced about hedgehogs or even why ferrets are illegal in California among other animals when they are worth keeping, let me enlighten you.
You better not push it because once you get caught by law enforcement keeping pets without permits, you are treated like you’re keeping dangerous animals at home.
When you violate the law, you’ll be facing charges of criminal prosecution and a civil fine.
Here are the full Fish Commission penalties that await illegal animal owners, according to Atty. Neil Shouse, a former prosecutor, and Managing Attorney at California Law Firms. (2)
Here is a quick overview of the penalties you will face if caught.
- Criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor — a crime that can result in up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000; and/or
- A civil fine of $500 to $10,000, plus the costs of removing, storing, and caring for the animal.
You read it right. The worst part is your beloved household pet will be confiscated and taken away from your custody.
What To Do To Own a Hedgehog in California Legally?
First, you must be qualified to own a hedgehog, meaning you should be keeping it as a pet for educational purposes or own a registered animal facility.
Contact the Fish Commission through their website, or go to the nearest Fish and Wildlife Service Offices near you.
They will give you the forms you’ll need to fill in, outline the requirements and visit your facility for veterinary inspection.
There are “Minimum Facility and Caging Standards for Wild Animals Housed at Permanent Facilities” you must meet according to the Exotic Animal Laws. (3)
If you pass the screening process and met all the requirements, you’re eligible to keep a hedgehog in your facility.
If you’re planning to establish domesticated hedgehogs as pets, it’s still prohibited unless the state amends the law.
What other states ban hedgehogs?
Many states and regions ban hedgehogs, including California, Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, New York City, and Fairfax County, West Virginia are among the states and counties where owning a hedgehog is prohibited.
Arizona, Maine, New Jersey, Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania require a permit to keep a hedgehog.
What alternatives to hedgehogs do I have in California?
Some alternatives to hedgehogs you can consider in California include pot-bellied pigs, bearded dragons, domestic cat hybrids, golden hamsters, dwarf hamsters, lizard breeds, ball pythons, etc.
How much does a hedgehog cost?
Depending on the breed, hedgehogs cost at least $200. Those with rare and desirable colors sell for at least $300 for just the animal alone. Supplies such as food and hedgehog cages are excluded.
Are hedgehogs illegal in California? Unfortunately, they are illegal in California. If this makes you sad, think about it this way.
When you set aside the desire to own the pet, you’re doing a favor to the ecosystem.
It’s like saving California in your own little way.
Have you found other alternative solutions for this query? Let us know down in the comment section!
- 1. California Code of Regulations – California Code of Regulations [Internet]. govt.westlaw.com. Available from: https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Index?transitionType=Default&contextData=%28sc.Default%29
- 2. Shouse N. 5 Animals That Are Illegal As Pets In California [Internet]. Shouse Law Group. 2016. Available from: https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/blog/animal-laws/5-popular-animals-that-are-illegal-as-pets-in-california/
- 3. BARCLAYS OFFICIAL CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS. Weblinks [Internet]. govt.westlaw.com. [cited 2022 Apr 26]. Available from: https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Document/ID5449E80D48011DEBC02831C6D6C108E/?bhcp=1&transitionType=Default&contextData=%28sc.Default%29
Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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