Hedgehogs are getting more and more popular to keep as pets in the US and all over the world. And for good reason! They’re cute, affectionate, and relatively easy to keep
Many consider the hedgehog as a wild animal, however, and the different American states don’t all agree whether the hedgehog is suited to keep as a pet or not.
In the following, I’m going to go into the specific laws and regulations for each US state as well as the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Hedgehog Laws In The USA
Table of Contents
- 1 Hedgehog Laws In The USA
- 2 In Which US States Is It Legal To Own A Hedgehog?
- 3 Why Are Hedgehogs Illegal In Some States?
- 3.1 Alabama
- 3.2 Alaska
- 3.3 Arizona
- 3.4 Arkansas
- 3.5 California
- 3.6 Colorado
- 3.7 Connecticut
- 3.8 Delaware
- 3.9 Florida
- 3.10 Georgia
- 3.11 Hawaii
- 3.12 Idaho
- 3.13 Illinois
- 3.14 Indiana
- 3.15 Iowa
- 3.16 Kansas
- 3.17 Kentucky
- 3.18 Louisiana
- 3.19 Maine
- 3.20 Maryland
- 3.21 Massachusetts
- 3.22 Michigan
- 3.23 Minnesota
- 3.24 Missouri
- 3.25 Montana
- 3.26 Nebraska
- 3.27 Nevada
- 3.28 New Hampshire
- 3.29 New Jersey
- 3.30 New Mexico
- 3.31 New York
- 3.32 North Carolina
- 3.33 North Dakota
- 3.34 Ohio
- 3.35 Oklahoma
- 3.36 Oregon
- 3.37 Pennsylvania
- 3.38 Rhode Island
- 3.39 South Carolina
- 3.40 South Dakota
- 3.41 Tennessee
- 3.42 Texas
- 3.43 Utah
- 3.44 Vermont
- 3.45 Virginia
- 3.46 Washington
- 3.47 West Virginia
- 3.48 Wisconsin
- 3.49 Wyoming
- 4 Australia
- 5 Canada
- 6 United Kingdom
- 7 Author
While some states prohibit keeping hedgehogs as pets, I strongly recommend adopting your new pet hedgehog from a USDA-licensed breeder. When the breeder is licensed by USDA, you can be sure that the breeder lives up to local rules and regulations, also when it comes to animal welfare.
Hedgehog breeders can only be USDA licensed when they operate in states where hedgehogs are indeed legal to keep as pets.
While many US states have no specific regulations about keeping hedgehogs as pets, some go more into detail in their exotic animal laws, defining what kind of hedgehog is legal to own in the state.
When this is the case, the African Pygmy Hedgehog is by far the most commonly accepted breed, but there are instances of the four-toed hedgehog being accepted too.
(Read more about different types of hedgehog here.)
In Which US States Is It Legal To Own A Hedgehog?
I’ll go into more detail in the following, but to give you a brief overview of the US states where it’s legal or illegal to keep a hedgehog as a pet, I’ll summarize.
It is legal to own a hedgehog in the following states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (outside of NYC and the five boroughs), North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
It is illegal to own a hedgehog in the following states:
California, Georgia, Hawaii, New York (NYC area), and Pennsylvania,
You’re required to have a permit to own a hedgehog in the following states:
Idaho and New Jersey
Why Are Hedgehogs Illegal In Some States?
In almost all cases, the reasons for prohibiting the possession of hedgehogs point to the ecosystem.
Hedgehogs aren’t native to the Americas, meaning that it isn’t supposed to roam wild in nature. If it escapes from its cage in your bedroom and goes out into the American wild and reproduces, suddenly it’ll be an invasive species.
The subject of invasive species is quite complicated, but it might have a lot of consequences on the environment.
In Europe, hedgehogs fit perfectly into a neat little system that’s developed for millions of years. It’s part of the order of nature where the slugs, worms, and bugs that hedgehogs eat are kept down in numbers by the hedgehogs, and where the hedgehogs themselves are kept down by foxes and other things that hunt hedgehogs.
The animal wasn’t made for the Americas, however. If it grows in numbers in the US, it might make its favorite slug go extinct. Or it might spread some kind of disease to other animals that just didn’t exist before.
It’s almost impossible to predict what might happen if an invasive species gets prevalent in a new region. It could go very wrong, but it also might fit into the way things are. We just can’t know for sure!
In some states where hedgehogs are legal, the reasoning will often be that authorities don’t expect the hedgies to be able to survive and thrive in the wild. This means that an escaped hedgehog won’t be much of a problem. But there are many climates in the US, and not all lawmakers agree.
So let’s have a look at the different states in the US and what their hedgehog laws are!
In Alabama, while many exotic animals are prohibited to own as pets, hedgehogs are perfectly legal.
Hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets in Alaska without a permit. Or at least African Pygmy Hedgehogs, which is the species of hedgehog that is most common in the states.
Hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets without a permit in Arizona.
According to multiple sources, the Arizona Fish and Game announced in December 2015 that hedgehogs would no longer be prohibited as a pet in the state.
The reason for the previous prohibition was authorities were worried that pet hedgehogs escaping from their owners might thrive in the wild and wreak havoc in the Arizona ecosystem.
After further consideration, the Arizona Fish and Game finally decided that the hedgehogs most commonly kept as pets in the US were simply not adapted for the climate and that they wouldn’t be able to survive, let alone thrive in Arizona.
In Arkansas, you’re allowed to keep both African Pygmy Hedgehogs and Four-toed hedgehogs as pets.
All 17 species of Hedgehog are illegal to keep as pets in the state of California.
The Californian authorities argue that pet hedgehogs that might escape into nature in California have the potential to turn into a pest, wreaking havoc in the local ecosystem.
Having a wild population of hedgehogs in the Californian wild also might open the doors for other potential complications, such as animal disease.
You can legally keep hedgehogs as a pet in Colorado.
Hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets in Connecticut
According to the NGO UAPPEAL, In Delaware, you can legally keep a hedgehog as a pet.
In Florida, hedgehogs are legal to own, but you need a permit to exhibit or sell a hedgehog.
It is illegal to keep hedgehogs as a pet in Georgia. Under certain circumstances, however, you can obtain a permit to breed hedgehogs, but you need a USDA license and you aren’t allowed to sell hedgehogs to Georgian citizens.
Hedgehogs are completely prohibited to keep in Hawaii.
While regulations might seem harsh, Hawaiian authorities go to great lengths to keep their state free from invasive species, pests, and the likes.
While it’s a shame that you can’t keep a hedgehog as a pet, the risks of it running off and establishing a population in the wild are simply too great.
Keeping a hedgehog as a pet in Idaho is illegal unless you have a permit.
The permit used to be required only for breeders, but the rules recently changed making possession of a hedgehog illegal without a permit.
Hedgehogs are legal to own and keep as pets in the state of Illinois!
Hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets in Indiana.
It’s completely legal to keep hedgehogs as pets in Iowa.
You can legally keep hedgehogs as pets in Kansas.
Hedgehogs are legal to have as pets in Kentucky
It’s perfectly legal to keep a hedgehog as a pet in Louisiana
Hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets in Maine.
While you used to have to hold a permit to be able to possess a hedgehog in Maine, it is now on the unrestricted species list of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
Hedgehogs are perfectly legal to keep as a pet in Maryland.
Hedgehogs are on the list of non-restricted animals in Massachusetts, meaning that you may keep them as pets!
Hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets in Michigan
In Minnesota, it’s legal to keep hedgehogs as household pets.
Minnesotan laws regarding exotic animals are actually quite lost, and up until 2002, you could even keep a tiger or a lion in your home. That isn’t legal anymore, but hedgehogs definitely are!
It is legal to keep hedgehogs as pets in Missouri.
While many exotic animals require a permit to keep in Missouri, hedgehogs are unrestricted in the state.
It is legal to keep African Pygmy Hedgehogs as pets in Montana. The species actually appear specifically on the state’s “non-restricted” list.
In the state of Nebraska, you can legally keep a hedgehog as a pet.
Individual city counties in Nebraska have their own exotic animal laws, and up until recently, hedgehogs weren’t legal in the city of Omaha. This isn’t the case anymore, however. (See a short news clip about it here.)
In Nevada, you can legally own, transport, and sell hedgehogs without a permit.
You can legally own an African Pygmy Hedgehog in the state of New Hampshire.
While hedgehogs are legal as pets in New Jersey, you do need a permit. To learn how to obtain a permit, click here.
Hedgehogs are unrestricted and legal to keep as pets in the state of New Mexico.
While it is actually legal to own a hedgehog in the state of New York, it’s illegal within New York City and the five boroughs.
Various petitions have already been made for legalizing hedgehogs in the greater New York City area, but so far, to no avail.
In North Carolina, you can legally keep a hedgehog as a pet. In fact, the laws regarding exotic animals in North Carolina are very relaxed, meaning that you’re allowed to keep almost all wild animals without any regulations.
It is legal to keep hedgehogs as household pets (or “non-traditional livestock”) in North Dakota.
While Ohio recently banned some exotic species that were previously legal to own in the state, hedgehogs is not one of them.
This means that hedgehogs are legal to own in the state of Ohio.
Hedgehogs require no permit and are legal to keep as pets in the state of Oklahoma.
While the European species of hedgehog is illegal in Oregon, you legally keep a four-toed (African Pygmy Hedgehog) as a pet in the state without a permit.
It is illegal to keep a hedgehog as a pet in Pennsylvania.
While various petitions and propositions have been carried forth to legalize the spiny critter, lawmakers have voted against it.
The argument for keeping hedgehogs outlawed in Pennsylvania is the risk of the animal breaking free and becoming a nuisance in the Pennsylvanian eco-system.
Many argue, however, that the little animal is unable to survive in Pennsylvanian nature, making the risks non-existent, but so far, the animal remains illegal in the state.
In Rhode Island, you can legally own a hedgehog as a pet.
The law states that four-toed African Pygmy Hedgehogs require no permit in the state.
In South Carolina, the law has no specific mention of hedgehogs.
This means that hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets in the state of South Carolina.
South Dakotan law has no specific mention of hedgehogs or similar animals.
Hedgehogs are legal to own as pets in South Dakota.
Hedgehogs are legal as pets in Tennessee.
There are no specific regulations regarding hedgehogs in the state of Texas.
This means that it’s legal to keep hedgehogs as pets in Texas.
Hedgehogs are exempt from a rule set in place to regulate the “collection, importation, and possession” of wild animals.
This makes hedgehogs legal to own and keep as pets in the state of Utah.
It is legal to keep hedgehogs as pets in Vermont.
Since 2019, hedgehogs have been legal to keep as pets in the state of Virginia.
The state has a long list of animals and wildlife that fall under special regulations, but hedgehogs is not one of them.
You can legally keep a hedgehog as a pet in the state of Washington.
In West Virginia, only a list of “dangerous wild animals” is illegal to possess. It probably comes as no surprise, but hedgehogs do not fall under that list.
This means that hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets in the state of West Virginia.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in the state of Wisconsin, hedgehogs aren’t considered wild animals, but household pets.
In other words, Hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets in Wisconsin.
In Wyoming, it’s legal to possess a hedgehog, and you don’t need a permit.
It is illegal to import, breed, and possess hedgehogs in all of Australia.
The reason for this prohibition is that the animal is viewed as a potentially invasive species that might be dangerous to the local ecosystem.
In Canada, you can legally own a hedgehog, but it has to be the four-toed “African Pygmy” hedgehog. European hedgehogs are illegal all over the country.
In the UK, the European hedgehog exists in the wild. It is, however, on a decline, which is quite worrying. Because of this, UK authorities have made the European hedgehog a protected species. This means that it is illegal to hunt, but also possess it.
African Pygmy hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets, however.