Can You Have a Hedgehog as a Pet in California? Legalities and How to Get One

Can You Have a Hedgehog as a Pet in California? Legalities and How to Get One

California, known for its sunny beaches and vibrant culture, has seen a peculiar trend emerge in recent years – the ownership of hedgehogs, golden hamsters, gerbils, wild squirrels, and ferrets as pets. Despite their prickly exterior, these little animals have captured the hearts of many Californians, leading to an increase in their popularity as domestic companions. Pet ownership of these dangerous animals, such as squirrels, has been on the rise. But what is it about hedgehogs, squirrels, ferrets, and monkeys that has sparked such fascination among residents of the Golden State? These little animals have captivated the interest of Californians.

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Perhaps it’s the contrast between squirrels’ adorable appearance and ferrets’ unique quills that make these species so intriguing. While hedgehogs may not be your typical cuddly pet, they possess an undeniable charm that appeals to those seeking something different. These animals can be a great addition to a person’s collection of pets, alongside ferrets. However, it is important to follow certain rules when caring for hedgehogs. The independent nature and low-maintenance requirements of ferrets make them appealing to busy individuals looking for an animal that fits into their lifestyle. Ferrets are a popular pet choice, especially for those who want a low-maintenance animal companion. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) also recognizes ferrets as legal pets in the state.

We’ll explore the reasons behind this growing trend and address any concerns or restrictions associated with keeping hedgehogs as pets in the state.

Legality of Owning Hedgehogs in California: Reasons and Facts

Legal Restrictions on Owning Hedgehogs in California

Owning a hedgehog as a pet in California is subject to legal restrictions. The state classifies hedgehogs as restricted wildlife, which means they cannot be kept as pets without the appropriate permits. This means that simply bringing home a hedgehog without obtaining the necessary permit could lead to criminal charges, fines, and even misdemeanor convictions.

Main Reasons for These Regulations

There are several reasons behind the regulations on owning hedgehogs in California. One of the main concerns is the potential impact on local ecosystems. Hedgehogs are not native to California and introducing them into the environment could disrupt the balance of native species. This concern extends to other non-native animals as well, which is why there are strict regulations surrounding ownership of various exotic pets.

Another reason for these regulations is the welfare and safety of both humans and animals. Hedgehogs have specific care requirements that may not be well understood by all potential owners. Without proper knowledge and experience, it can be challenging to provide adequate care for these unique creatures. Hedgehogs possess quills that can cause injury if mishandled or if they feel threatened.

Potential Risks Associated with Illegal Ownership

Engaging in illegal ownership of hedgehogs can have serious consequences. If caught with an unpermitted hedgehog, individuals may face criminal charges and hefty fines imposed by law enforcement agencies or animal control authorities. The severity of penalties can vary depending on local ordinances but can range from substantial monetary fines to misdemeanor convictions.

In addition to legal repercussions, there are risks associated with owning a hedgehog without proper education and guidance. Without understanding their specific needs, owners may inadvertently neglect their care or fail to provide appropriate housing conditions. This can result in health issues for the hedgehog and potentially contribute to its suffering.

Furthermore, illegal ownership can perpetuate the illegal wildlife trade. When individuals acquire hedgehogs without the necessary permits, they are supporting an underground market that often involves unethical breeding practices and the trafficking of animals. By obtaining proper permits, potential owners can ensure they are acquiring a hedgehog from a reputable source that prioritizes the welfare of these unique creatures.

Hedgehog Ownership Laws in Other States: A Comparison

In addition to California, many other states across the United States have laws regarding hedgehog ownership. Let’s take a closer look at how different states approach this prickly pet.

Comparing Hedgehog Ownership Laws Across States

The regulations can vary significantly from state to state. While some states have no restrictions on hedgehog ownership, others have outright bans or require permits and licenses. It’s important for potential owners to be aware of these laws before bringing home a hedgehog as a pet.

Legal vs. Prohibited States

Several states allow residents to own hedgehogs without any restrictions. These include:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming

On the other hand, there are states where owning a hedgehog is prohibited or heavily regulated. These include:

  • California (as discussed in the previous section)
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • New York City (although legal in other parts of New York State)

The reasons behind these prohibitions vary but often involve concerns about invasive species, potential impact on local ecosystems, or public safety.

Variations in Regulations and Implications

Even among states that allow hedgehog ownership, there may be variations in regulations and requirements. For example:

  1. Some states may require permits or licenses to keep a hedgehog as a pet.
  2. Certain states may restrict ownership to specific types or races of hedgehogs.
  3. There might be limitations on breeding or selling hedgehogs within certain jurisdictions.

It’s crucial for prospective owners to familiarize themselves with these specific regulations before acquiring a pet hedgehog.

While some people argue that these restrictions are unnecessary and overly cautious, others believe they serve an important purpose in protecting the environment and ensuring responsible pet ownership. It’s vital to respect and abide by these laws to prevent potential harm to both the hedgehogs and their ecosystems.

Checking with Local Authorities

To determine whether owning a hedgehog is legal in your state, it’s advisable to check with local authorities or the relevant department overseeing wildlife regulations. They can provide accurate and up-to-date information regarding hedgehog ownership laws in your area.

Reaching out to local hedgehog enthusiasts or breeders can also provide valuable insights into the specific regulations and requirements within your locality.

Steps to Obtain a Hedgehog in California: Legal Considerations

To legally acquire a pet hedgehog in California, there are several important steps to follow. It’s crucial to understand the regulations and requirements surrounding hedgehog ownership in the state.

Research Reputable Breeders or Licensed Sellers

It’s essential to find a reputable breeder or licensed seller. Conduct thorough research to ensure you’re obtaining your pet from a trustworthy source. Look for breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their animals.


  • Reputable breeders prioritize the health and welfare of their hedgehogs.
  • They can provide valuable information about proper care and maintenance.


  • Reputable breeders may have higher prices compared to unlicensed sellers.
  • The process of finding a reputable breeder may take time and effort.

Familiarize Yourself with Documentation Requirements

Before acquiring a hedgehog as a pet, familiarize yourself with the documentation requirements set by California law. These requirements are in place to ensure responsible ownership and protect both the animal and its owner.

Key Information:

  • Hedgehogs must be microchipped for identification purposes.
  • A permit is required from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
  • Proof of legal acquisition is necessary, such as an invoice or bill of sale.

Obtain a Permit from CDFW

In order to legally keep a hedgehog as a pet in California, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the CDFW. This permit demonstrates that you are compliant with state regulations regarding exotic pets.


  1. Fill out an application form provided by CDFW.
  2. Pay any necessary fees associated with the permit application.
  3. Provide any supporting documents requested by CDFW, such as proof of residency.
  4. Await approval from CDFW before proceeding with acquiring a hedgehog.

Prepare a Suitable Habitat for Your Hedgehog

Once you have obtained the necessary permits, it’s important to prepare a suitable habitat for your hedgehog. Create an environment that meets their specific needs, including providing appropriate bedding, hiding spots, and temperature regulation.


  • Use a secure enclosure with proper ventilation.
  • Provide a wheel for exercise and stimulation.
  • Offer a balanced diet consisting of high-quality hedgehog food and occasional treats.

Remember, owning any pet comes with responsibilities. Ensure you are prepared to provide proper care, attention, and commitment to your hedgehog before bringing one into your home.

Concerns about Hedgehog Ownership: Ecological Impact and More

Owning a hedgehog as a pet can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, it’s crucial to address the ecological concerns associated with releasing pet hedgehogs into the wild and understand the potential impacts on local ecosystems if they were to escape or be released.

Ecological Impact of Released or Escaped Hedgehogs

Releasing pet hedgehogs into the wild can have serious consequences for native wildlife and ecosystems. Hedgehogs are exotic animals that are not native to California or many other regions where they are kept as pets. When introduced into non-native habitats, they can disrupt the balance of local ecosystems.

Here are some key points to consider regarding the ecological impact of released or escaped hedgehogs:

  • Predation: Hedgehogs have been known to prey on small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Releasing them into the wild could lead to competition with native predators and potentially cause declines in local wildlife populations.
  • Habitat Alteration: Hedgehogs may dig burrows and forage for food, which can disturb soil structure and vegetation. This alteration of habitat may negatively impact native species that rely on specific ecological conditions.
  • Disease Transmission: Pet hedgehogs can carry diseases that may be harmful to both domestic animals and native wildlife. Releasing infected hedgehogs could introduce these diseases into wild populations.

Responsible Ownership Practices

To mitigate these risks and ensure responsible ownership practices, it is essential for potential hedgehog owners in California (and elsewhere) to take certain precautions:

  • Secure Enclosures: Provide secure enclosures that prevent escape. Hedgehogs are skilled climbers and diggers, so their enclosures should have appropriate barriers such as wire mesh fencing buried underground.
  • Education: Educate yourself about proper care requirements for hedgehogs before bringing one home. This includes understanding their diet, habitat needs, and potential health issues.
  • Preventing Breeding: Spaying or neutering your hedgehog can prevent accidental breeding and the release of offspring into the wild.
  • No Release Policy: Never release a pet hedgehog into the wild. If you can no longer care for your hedgehog, seek out reputable rescues or organizations that specialize in rehoming exotic pets.

By following these responsible ownership practices, you can minimize the ecological impact of owning a hedgehog and ensure the safety of both domestic animals and native wildlife.

It’s important to remember that owning any exotic animal comes with responsibilities. Hedgehogs are no exception. While they may seem cute and harmless, their introduction into non-native habitats can have severe consequences for local ecosystems.

So if you’re considering getting a hedgehog as a pet in California (or anywhere else), make sure you understand the potential ecological impact and take all necessary precautions to be a responsible owner.

Benefits of Having a Hedgehog as a Pet in California

Hedgehogs are unique creatures that make for fascinating pets. They possess qualities that set them apart from more common pets like dogs or cats, making them an appealing choice for pet owners in California. Let’s delve into the benefits of having a hedgehog as a pet in the Golden State.

Unique Qualities That Make Hedgehogs Appealing

Hedgehogs have some remarkable characteristics that make them stand out as pets. One of their most distinctive features is their spiky coat, which acts as a natural defense mechanism against predators. These quills not only provide protection but also create an adorable and intriguing appearance.

Another endearing quality of hedgehogs is their behavior. While they may seem prickly at first glance, they can be quite affectionate and bond closely with their owners over time. Hedgehogs are known to recognize their human caregivers and respond positively to gentle handling and interaction.

Furthermore, hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active during the night. This makes them an ideal pet for individuals who work during the day or have busy schedules, as they can still enjoy quality time with their hedgehog companion in the evenings.

Low Maintenance Needs Compared to Other Pets

One major advantage of owning a hedgehog is that they have relatively low maintenance needs compared to other common pets like dogs or cats. Here are some reasons why:

  • Grooming: Unlike dogs or cats that require regular bathing and grooming sessions, hedgehogs do not need frequent baths due to their self-cleaning nature.
  • Exercise Requirements: Hedgehogs are small creatures that do not require extensive exercise like larger animals. Providing them with ample space within their enclosure and engaging toys is usually sufficient to keep them active and entertained.
  • Feeding Routine: Hedgehogs have specific dietary requirements but generally do not demand complex feeding routines. A balanced diet of high-quality hedgehog food, supplemented with occasional treats and fresh vegetables, is usually enough to keep them healthy.

Suitable for Individuals with Allergies or Limited Space

For individuals with allergies or limited space, hedgehogs can be an excellent pet choice. Unlike dogs or cats that can trigger allergies in some people due to their fur, hedgehogs have quills instead. While it’s still essential to handle them carefully and maintain good hygiene practices, the likelihood of allergic reactions is significantly reduced.

Hedgehogs are relatively small pets that do not require a vast amount of living space. They can comfortably reside in enclosures specifically designed for their needs, such as spacious cages or terrariums. This makes them suitable for individuals living in apartments or homes with limited outdoor areas.

Responsible Hedgehog Ownership: Care Tips and Resources

Proper Care for Pet Hedgehogs

Providing proper care for a pet hedgehog is essential to ensure their well-being and happiness. Here are some tips to help you meet their needs:

1. Diet: Hedgehogs require a balanced diet consisting of high-quality commercial hedgehog food, supplemented with occasional treats like fruits, vegetables, and insects. Avoid feeding them foods that are toxic to hedgehogs, such as chocolate or caffeine.

2. Habitat: Create a suitable habitat for your pet hedgehog by providing a spacious enclosure with plenty of hiding spots, bedding material, and an exercise wheel. Maintain the temperature between 72-80°F (22-27°C) and ensure good ventilation.

3. Socialization: While hedgehogs are generally solitary animals, they still need social interaction with their owners to thrive. Spend time bonding with your hedgehog through gentle handling and playtime outside the enclosure.

4. Handling: When handling your pet hedgehog, remember to be gentle and avoid sudden movements or loud noises that may startle them. Support their body properly by cradling them in your hands or using both hands to scoop them up from underneath.

Resources for Learning about Hedgehog Care in California

If you’re considering getting a pet hedgehog in California, it’s important to educate yourself about their specific care requirements within the state. Here are some resources that can provide valuable information:

1. Local Exotic Animal Veterinarians: Consult with local exotic animal veterinarians who have experience treating hedgehogs. They can offer guidance on proper care practices and address any health concerns.

2. Online Communities and Forums: Join online communities or forums dedicated to hedgehog enthusiasts in California. These platforms allow you to connect with experienced owners who can share valuable insights and advice.

3. Hedgehog Rescue Organizations: Reach out to hedgehog rescue organizations in California for guidance. They often have resources available on their websites or can provide recommendations for reputable breeders and pet stores.

4. Hedgehog Care Guides: Several comprehensive hedgehog care guides are available online and in bookstores. These resources cover various aspects of hedgehog care, including diet, habitat setup, grooming, and health maintenance.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Just like any other pet, regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for the overall health of your pet hedgehog. Hedgehogs are prone to certain health issues that may require professional attention. Here’s why regular veterinary visits are important:

1. Preventive Care: Regular check-ups allow veterinarians to monitor your hedgehog’s health and detect any potential problems early on. This enables them to provide preventive care measures and ensure your pet remains in good health.

2. Health Assessments: During check-ups, veterinarians will conduct thorough examinations of your hedgehog, checking their teeth, nails, skin, eyes, ears, and overall body condition. They may also recommend additional tests if necessary.

3. Vaccinations: While there are no specific vaccinations required for hedgehogs in California at the time of writing this article (please verify with a local veterinarian), it’s always wise to consult with a veterinarian about preventive measures against common diseases.

By following these tips and utilizing the available resources for learning about proper hedgehog care in California, you can be a responsible owner who provides a happy and healthy life for your pet hedgehog.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Hedgehog Ownership in California

Congratulations! You’ve now gained a comprehensive understanding of owning a hedgehog in California. By exploring the legality, comparing ownership laws in other states, and discussing the steps to obtain a hedgehog, you are well-informed to make an educated decision. We addressed concerns about ecological impact and highlighted the benefits of having these adorable creatures as pets.

Now that you know all the ins and outs of hedgehog ownership in California, it’s time for you to decide if it’s the right choice for you. Remember, being a responsible pet owner requires dedication and commitment. If you’re ready to provide proper care and create a loving environment for your new prickly friend, then go ahead and embark on this exciting journey!

List of 8 Types of Pets That Are Illegal in California and why?

Pet TypeReason for Being Illegal in California
1. FerretFerrets are illegal in California because they are considered a threat to native wildlife and agriculture. They have the potential to escape and establish feral populations, which can disrupt ecosystems and spread diseases.
2. HedgehogHedgehogs are illegal in California because they can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans, such as salmonella. Additionally, they are considered a threat to local ecosystems if released into the wild.
3. Sugar GliderSugar gliders are illegal in California because they are non-native species that can disrupt local ecosystems if released. They also have specific dietary and environmental requirements that can be challenging to meet in captivity.
4. Quaker ParrotQuaker parrots are illegal in California because they are considered an agricultural threat. They have the potential to damage crops and infrastructure, such as power lines, due to their nesting habits.
5. Savannah CatSavannah cats are illegal in California because they are a hybrid breed between a domestic cat and a serval, a wild African cat. The state prohibits owning any hybrid or wild cat species as pets due to concerns about public safety and the welfare of the animals.
6. CapybaraCapybaras are illegal in California because they are considered an exotic species that can disrupt local ecosystems if released. They also have specific dietary and environmental requirements that can be challenging to meet in captivity.
7. WolfWolves are illegal in California because they are a wild species that can pose a threat to public safety. They have specific social and environmental needs that are difficult to meet in a domestic setting, leading to potential behavioral issues.
8. Raccoons Raccoons are illegal in California because they are considered a threat to native wildlife and can transmit diseases to humans and pets. They also have a tendency to cause property damage and can be difficult to handle as pets.

How do I legally own a hedgehog in California?

Hedgehogs can indeed bond with their owners, forming a unique and affectionate relationship. While they may not be as social or interactive as some other pets, hedgehogs are capable of recognizing and responding to their owners. Here’s what you need to know about bonding with a hedgehog:

  1. Time and patience: Building a bond with a hedgehog takes time and patience. It’s important to spend regular, consistent time with your hedgehog to help them become familiar with your scent and presence.
  2. Handling and socialization: Regular handling and socialization are crucial for bonding with a hedgehog. Start by gently picking up your hedgehog and allowing them to explore your hands and surroundings. Gradually increase the duration of these handling sessions to help your hedgehog become comfortable with you.
  3. Positive reinforcement: Hedgehogs respond well to positive reinforcement. Offer treats or rewards when your hedgehog displays desired behaviors, such as coming to you or allowing you to handle them. This will help reinforce the bond between you and your pet.
  4. Respect their boundaries: While hedgehogs can bond with their owners, it’s important to respect their boundaries. Hedgehogs are naturally shy and may display defensive behaviors if they feel threatened or overwhelmed. Pay attention to their body language and give them space when needed.
  5. Create a comfortable environment: Providing a comfortable and enriched environment for your hedgehog can also contribute to bonding. Make sure they have a cozy and secure enclosure with hiding spots, as well as toys and activities to keep them mentally stimulated.

In conclusion, while hedgehogs may not be as outwardly affectionate as some other pets, they are capable of bonding with their owners. With time, patience, and positive reinforcement, you can develop a special bond with your hedgehog.

Can I bring my pet hedgehog to California?

To legally own a hedgehog in California, there are certain regulations and requirements that need to be followed. Here is an SEO answer to the question “How do I legally own a hedgehog in California?” along with bullet points and a table for additional information:

SEO Answer: To legally own a hedgehog in California, you must adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Obtain a permit: In California, hedgehogs are classified as restricted species. This means that you need to obtain a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to own a hedgehog as a pet.
  2. Complete the application process: To apply for a permit, you will need to fill out an application form provided by the CDFW. The application typically requires information about your personal details, your experience with hedgehogs, and details about the enclosure you plan to provide for your pet.
  3. Pay the necessary fees: Along with the application, you will need to submit the required fees. The cost of the permit can vary, so it’s important to check the current fee schedule on the CDFW website.
  4. Meet the enclosure requirements: The CDFW has specific requirements for hedgehog enclosures to ensure the welfare and safety of the animals. These requirements include appropriate size, ventilation, and security measures.
  5. Maintain proper documentation: Once you are granted a permit, it is important to keep all the necessary documentation related to your hedgehog. This includes the permit itself, any health records, and proof of purchase or acquisition.

Remember, it is crucial to comply with these regulations to legally own a hedgehog in California. Failure to do so can result in penalties or confiscation of the animal.

Table: Here is a table summarizing the key information about legally owning a hedgehog in California:

PermitObtain a permit from the CDFW
Application ProcessFill

What animals are legal to own in California?

Yes, you can bring your pet hedgehog to California. Hedgehogs are legal to own as pets in California. However, there are some important regulations and requirements that you need to be aware of before bringing your hedgehog to the state. Here is some important information to keep in mind:

  • Hedgehogs are classified as restricted species in California, which means that you need to obtain a permit to own one.
  • To obtain a permit, you will need to fill out an application and pay a fee. The application will require information about your hedgehog, including its age, sex, and source.
  • It is important to note that not all cities and counties in California allow the ownership of hedgehogs. Before bringing your hedgehog to the state, make sure to check with local authorities to ensure that it is legal in your area.
  • If you are planning to bring your hedgehog from another state, you will need to provide a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian to ensure that your hedgehog is healthy and free from any diseases.
  • When traveling with your hedgehog, it is important to keep them in a secure and comfortable carrier. Make sure to provide them with food, water, and a familiar blanket or toy to help keep them calm during the journey.


Legal Requirements for Owning a Hedgehog in California
Obtain a permit from the state
Check with local authorities for city/county regulations
Provide a health certificate from a veterinarian
Travel with a secure and comfortable carrier

Can you legally own a hedgehog in the US?

Yes, it is legal to own a hedgehog in California. However, there are certain regulations and restrictions that owners must adhere to. Here are some important points to know about owning a hedgehog in California:

  • Hedgehogs are considered exotic pets and are legal to own in California.
  • However, it is important to note that not all states allow hedgehog ownership, so it’s crucial to check the specific regulations in your state before getting a hedgehog.
  • In California, hedgehogs are classified as restricted species, which means they can only be owned with a permit.
  • To obtain a permit, hedgehog owners must meet certain requirements and follow specific guidelines.
  • It is advisable to contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or the local animal control agency to inquire about the necessary permits and regulations for owning a hedgehog in your area.
  • It is also important to ensure that you purchase a hedgehog from a reputable breeder or seller who operates legally and ethically.
StateHedgehog Ownership
CaliforniaLegal with permit
Other statesVaries, check local regulations

Please note that while this information is accurate at the time of writing, regulations may change, so it’s always best to verify the current laws regarding hedgehog ownership in your specific area.


Can hedgehogs be litter trained?

Yes, hedgehogs can be litter trained! With patience and consistency, they can learn to use a litter box just like cats. However, it’s essential to use safe materials such as paper-based or pellet-type litters specifically designed for small animals.

Are hedgehogs noisy pets?

Hedgehogs are generally quiet pets. They don’t bark or meow like dogs or cats. However, they may make some noises while exploring their surroundings or during mealtime. These sounds are usually soft grunts or snuffles that shouldn’t disturb your household.

How long do hedgehogs live as pets?

On average, hedgehogs live between 4-6 years in captivity. However, with proper care and a healthy lifestyle, some individuals have been known to live up to 8 years or more.

Do hedgehogs require vaccinations?

No, hedgehogs do not require any specific vaccinations like dogs or cats. However, it is crucial to keep their living environment clean and provide regular veterinary check-ups to ensure their overall well-being.

Can hedgehogs bond with their owners?

Yes, hedgehogs can form bonds with their owners! While they may initially be shy or cautious, with time and patience, they can become quite affectionate. Building trust through gentle handling and spending quality time together will help strengthen the bond between you and your hedgehog.

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