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Home > Hedgehogs > Why Are Hedgehogs Illegal in California? Reasons & Facts

Why Are Hedgehogs Illegal in California? Reasons & Facts

hedgehog eating

If you’re a resident of California and are thinking about getting a hedgehog to keep as a pet, you’d better come up with a different animal because you can’t legally have a hedgehog. There are over 15 species of hedgehogs, and all of them are illegal to keep as pets in California. Why? These little animals, as cute as they are, can become pests when introduced into the wild where they don’t naturally occur.divider-hedgehog

What Other Animals Are Illegal to Own in California?

Image Credit: auenleben, Pixabay

Hedgehogs aren’t the only animals you can’t keep as pets in California. It’s also against the law in California to keep the following animals as pets:

  • Gerbils
  • Degus
  • Prairie dogs
  • Sugar gliders
  • Fur ranch foxes
  • Monkeys
  • Quaker parakeets

There Are Good Reasons Californians Can’t Have Pet Hedgehogs

hedgehog eye_Alexas Fotos_Pixabay
Image By: Alexas Fotos, Pixabay

If you’re wondering why you can’t keep a hedgehog as a pet in California, we’ve got the answer you need! While hedgehogs are found in many US states, these little animals are not native to California, which means they threaten the state’s wildlife.

Damage to the Ecosystem

If a pet hedgehog escaped and got into the wild or, worse, was placed in the wild by a pet owner, it could have a negative impact on the state’s ecosystem and the plants and animals within it.

If no laws were prohibiting the ownership of pet hedgehogs in California, several of these animals could end up in the wild, one way or another. Hedgehogs have very few natural predators, which means their numbers could increase dramatically. If this were to happen, it could disrupt and endanger the state’s natural ecosystem and threaten the existence of other animal species.

Hedgehogs feed on a wide variety of invertebrates, beetles, worms, snails, slugs, and insects. They will also eat some plants and things like mice, baby birds, and eggs. For their size, hedgehogs have huge appetites and spend most of their waking hours foraging for food.

As you probably know, many of the environment’s plants, birds, invertebrates, and insects play a key role in keeping the ecosystem balanced and in check. If just one new species of animal, like a hedgehog, were to run amok in the state and eat these living things, the fragile ecosystem could be thrown out of whack. A disrupted ecosystem could have serious consequences like the overpopulation of certain species and even complete species extinction.

For this reason, the state of California is very serious about prohibiting its residents from keeping hedgehogs and other non-native animals as pets. You can rest assured that those residents found with pet hedgehogs are prosecuted to the full extent of the law when they’re caught.

What Happens if You’re Caught With a Hedgehog?

If you ignore the law and keep a hedgehog as a pet in California, you risk getting caught. Someone like a neighbor, co-worker, or acquaintance could alert the authorities wherein you’d be in some hot water. If you were to get caught with one of these animals, one of the following could happen:

  • Be issued a civil fine of $500 or more
  • Be criminally prosecuted and charged with a misdemeanor
  • Have the hedgehog taken away and be responsible for the removal and care costs of the animal

As you can see, there are some serious consequences associated with owning a hedgehog illegally in California.

California Isn’t the Only State Prohibiting Hedgehogs

hedgehog_congerdesign, Pixabay
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

While California is known for having stringent pet ownership laws, it’s not the only place in the United States where you can’t keep a hedgehog as a pet. It is also illegal to keep a hedgehog as a pet in Georgia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, and New York City.divider-hedgehog

The 5 Fun Facts About Hedgehogs

Now that you know that you’re not allowed to keep a hedgehog as a pet in California, we’ll share a few interesting facts about hedgehogs that may surprise you. Ready? Here we go!

1. They’re Called Hedgehogs for a Reason

The adorable hedgehog got its name due to its odd foraging methods. This animal roots through hedges and other undergrowth in search of the things that make up its diet, like insects, snails, centipedes, and mice. The “hog” part of their name comes from the snorting and grunting sounds they make that are similar to a pig.

2. They Have Poor Eyesight

Hedgehogs hunt primarily using their sense of hearing and smell because they have poor eyesight. But since these are nocturnal animals, they can see quite well in the darkness.

3. They Have Thousands of Spikes

A Hedgehog can have 5,000 to 7,000 spikes (or spines, as they’re also called) on its body that can be raised and lowered in response to threats. Each spike remains in place for about one year before falling out and being replaced.

4. They’re Loners

It’s very rare to spot more than one hedgehog in the wild because these little animals are solitary creatures. A hedgehog typically spends all its life alone, except when it’s in the process of mating with another hedgehog.

5. Gardeners Love Them

Much of a hedgehog’s diet consists of pests that are commonly found in gardens, like caterpillars and beetles. For this reason, most gardeners who have hedgehogs around appreciate these cute critters that help preserve the fruits and vegetables they’re growing.

amur hedgehog
Image Credit: AnMenshikova, Shutterstock



While you may feel bad about not being able to legally own a pet hedgehog in California, it’s prohibited for good reason. Maybe it will make you feel better knowing that hedgehogs don’t like being handled, so you could never really cuddle with one anyway.

If you’re dead set on getting a pet hedgehog, you’ll have to move to one of the many states that allow you to do so. Otherwise, you’ll have to choose another animal to take home as a pet.

Featured Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

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