Are you a fan of hedgehogs? These adorable little creatures have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years, with their cute faces and spiky exteriors capturing the hearts of many animal lovers. However, if you live in California, you may be surprised to learn that owning a hedgehog is actually illegal.

Despite their popularity as pets, hedgehogs are not allowed to be kept as pets in California. This law has been in place for many years, and there are strict penalties for those who are caught breaking it. So why exactly are hedgehogs illegal in California?

Why are hedgehogs illegal in California?

Overview of the History of Hedgehog Laws in California

California has had a long and complicated history with hedgehogs as pets. In 1993, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife added hedgehogs to the list of restricted species, making it illegal to own them as pets. This decision was made due to concerns about the potential impact that non-native species could have on California’s ecosystems. At the time, there were fears that hedgehogs could carry diseases or parasites that could harm native wildlife populations.

Additionally, there were concerns that escaped or released pet hedgehogs could establish feral populations in the state, which could also pose a threat to local ecosystems. Despite these restrictions, some people continued to keep hedgehogs as pets illegally. In 2019, however, California passed a new law allowing residents to legally own hedgehogs as pets for the first time in over two decades.

The law went into effect on January 1st, 2020. While this change is certainly good news for hedgehog enthusiasts in California, it’s important to note that there are still some restrictions in place. For example, only African pygmy hedgehogs are legal to own as pets – other species are still banned. Additionally, owners must obtain a permit from the Department of Fish and Wildlife before bringing a pet hedgehog into the state.

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For those who do decide to bring a pet hedgehog into their home legally, it’s important to understand what caring for one entails. Hedgehogs require specialized diets and living conditions in order to thrive – they need plenty of space to roam around and explore (a minimum cage size of four square feet is recommended), and they should be fed a diet consisting primarily of high-quality cat food supplemented with fruits and vegetables.

Overall, while it’s exciting that Californians can now legally own pet hedgehogs once again after so many years, it’s important to approach this decision with caution and care. By understanding the history of hedgehog laws in California and the requirements for owning a pet hedgehog, you can make an informed decision about whether or not these adorable creatures are right for you.

Pros Cons
Adorable and unique pets Require specialized diets and living conditions
Can be trained to be handled easily Potential health risks to other animals if not properly cared for
Fascinating to watch as they explore their environment May not be legal in all areas

Interesting fact: – Research and understand the laws and regulations regarding exotic pets in your state before considering owning one.

Arguments for Legalizing Hedgehogs in California

There are several arguments in favor of legalizing hedgehogs as pets in California. One of the main arguments is that hedgehogs are already legal to own in many other states, including Arizona, Georgia, and Florida. Proponents of legalization argue that there is no reason why hedgehogs should be illegal in California when they are perfectly legal elsewhere.

Another argument for legalization is that hedgehogs make great pets. They are small, quiet, and relatively low-maintenance compared to other exotic pets like monkeys or snakes. Hedgehogs also have unique personalities and can form strong bonds with their owners. Additionally, some people argue that the ban on hedgehogs is outdated and unnecessary.

The original ban was put in place because of concerns about the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, but this disease has not been a problem in domesticated hedgehogs for many years. Supporters of legalization argue that there is no scientific evidence to support the continued ban on hedgehogs. Finally, some people believe that the ban on hedgehogs is unfair to responsible pet owners who would provide good homes for these animals.

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Many people already keep illegal pets like sugar gliders or ferrets without any problems, so why should hedgehogs be treated differently?Overall, there are many compelling arguments for legalizing hedgehogs as pets in California. While there are certainly valid concerns about exotic pet ownership and animal welfare, it seems clear that responsible owners should be allowed to keep these charming animals if they so choose.

Interesting fact: – Avoid purchasing or adopting a hedgehog from illegal sources, as this can contribute to the spread of disease and harm to the animal.

Arguments Against Legalizing Hedgehogs in California

Despite the popularity of hedgehogs as pets, there are many arguments against legalizing them in California. One of the main concerns is that hedgehogs are not native to California and could potentially harm the state’s ecosystem if released into the wild. In fact, several states have already banned hedgehogs for this reason.

Another argument against legalizing hedgehogs is that they require specialized care and can be difficult to keep as pets. Hedgehogs have specific dietary needs and require a lot of space to roam around. They also need a warm environment, which can be challenging to maintain in certain parts of California.

Additionally, some people believe that allowing hedgehogs as pets could lead to an increase in illegal trafficking of these animals. This could result in more animals being taken from their natural habitats and sold on the black market.

Characteristics Hedgehog Cat
Nocturnal Yes No
Dietary Needs Specific diet required Omnivorous
Grooming Needs Minimal grooming needed Frequent grooming needed

Interesting fact: – If you live in California, do not attempt to smuggle or transport a hedgehog into the state, as this is illegal and can result in fines or legal consequences.

Alternatives to Keeping Hedgehogs as Pets

If you live in California and are looking for a pet that is legal to own, there are several great options available. While hedgehogs may be popular, they are not the only option for those looking for a unique and interesting pet. Here are some alternatives to consider:

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  • Rats are intelligent and social animals that make great pets.
  • They are easy to care for and can be trained to do tricks.
  • Rats come in many different colors and patterns, so you can choose one that suits your style.


  • Ferrets are playful and curious animals that love to explore.
  • They require more attention than rats, but can still be easily trained.
  • Ferrets have a lifespan of around 6-8 years, so they will be with you for a while!


  • Gerbils are small rodents that are active during the day.
  • They are social animals that should be kept in pairs or groups.
  • Gerbils have long tails and soft fur, making them cute and cuddly pets.


  • Birds come in many different sizes and colors, so you can find one that fits your lifestyle.
  • They require more attention than rodents, but can be very rewarding pets.
  • Birds can live for many years if cared for properly, so they will become an important part of your life.

Comparison Table

Pet Size Lifespan Training Required
Rats Small to Medium 2-3 years Easy to Train
Ferrets Medium to Large 6-8 years Moderate Training Required
Gerbils Small 2-4 years No Training Required, but Socialization is Important.

If you are looking for a pet that is legal in California, these alternatives to hedgehogs are great options. Whether you prefer rodents or birds, there is a pet out there that will fit your lifestyle and personality. Remember to do your research and choose a pet that you can commit to caring for over the long term!