Hedgehogs are both adorable and popular pets in the US, but have you ever seen one in the wild? This article talks about the types of hedgehogs you can find in America and whether they can be found in the wild.
Are Hedgehogs Native to North America
Hedgehogs aren’t native to North or South America. However, they are native across Europe, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand.
However, they were introduced to New Zealand by England by English settlers to remind them of their homeland.
Since then, they have become a threat to many of New Zealand’s native wildlife.
However, in the distant past, the now-extinct Amphecinus used to live in North America in the Miocene period.
Since then, no hedgehogs have appeared as native species in North or South America.
How Were Hedgehogs Introduced in North America
Back in the 1980s, the African Pygmy Hedgehog was domesticated and brought over to America.
However, it’s also known as the Four-toed Hedgehog. While they began to be imported in the 1980s, there was a massive boom from 1991 to 1994.
Two thousand hedgehogs were imported into the United States from Lagos by an importer called Richard Stubbs and sold to various pet stores in North America.
They became a major fad, and there was a demand for hedgehogs in the US. However, the American government stopped the trade after discovering that the hedgehogs carried foot-and-mouth disease.
Rumors say he managed to export at least fifty thousand hedgehogs before the operation shut down, but the exact number of hedgehogs he shipped is unknown.
However, the numbers go up to eighty thousand in some stories, and much of the history of exporting hedgehogs can be traced back to Richard Stubbs.
Where Can You Keep A Hedgehog In America?
Hedgehogs are legal in most states in America, but some do require a bit of research into the ownership of Hedgehogs.
In Pennsylvania, you may keep a hedgehog as a pet, but hedgehogs are not allowed to be imported into the state.
The only hedgehogs allowed in Pennsylvania are those who have been there as of 1992 and their descendants.
So if you want to have a hedgehog there, they will have to have been born there.
You were only allowed to legally own a hedgehog in Fairfax County, Virginia, as of 2019. Before that, it was illegal to own a hedgehog in Fairfax County. However, they are still illegal in Washington D.C.
If you live in New Jersey or Wyoming, you’ll need a permit to own a hedgehog in these states. You’ll also need a permit from the Wisconsin state department of Agriculture to bring a hedgehog into the state.
However, you can have a Four-toed Hedgehog as a pet in Idaho and Oregon, but it’s illegal to own a European Hedgehog.
However, it’s illegal to own any type of hedgehog in some states and cities. So, it’s illegal to own a hedgehog in California, Georgia, Hawaii, and New York City.
Why Is It Illegal To Own A Hedgehog In Some Areas?
I mentioned foot-and-mouth disease earlier, which is why hedgehogs are illegal in some areas. In California, hedgehogs are unlawful because they could endanger an already fragile ecosystem.
How? There is a fear that pet hedgehogs may escape into the wild and form their own colonies.
This would cause an imbalance between species, mainly because they could endanger crops and other native species in California.
Due to California’s climate, they fear that hedgehogs will thrive in that environment and pose a risk as an invasive species.
This is the reason they banned hedgehogs in Georgia. They believe they could cause an imbalance in their local ecosystem.
They are more prone to spreading diseases like salmonella and foot-and-mouth disease.
Hedgehogs can also carry bacterial infections, so they recommend that owners regularly wash their hands when handling their hedgehogs.
Despite this, it is legal to breed hedgehogs in Georgia with a breeding license, but they would have to be sold outside the state if you were to sell them.
Hawaii banned hedgehogs as they’re insectivores. There are several protective laws at play to protect native insects, including Tree Snails, when it comes to insects in Hawaii.
In the case of New York City, hedgehogs are considered wild animals and aren’t allowed to be kept in any of New York City.
There is another factor that hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal creatures. Due to being active at night, there’s a concern that they’ll escape when it’s dark and will become difficult to find.
Where Can You Find A Hedgehog in America?
Hedgehogs are classified as exotic pets, so specific laws need to be followed if you want to have one as a pet.
They’re only bred in captivity, so it’s best to find a reputable breeder or rescue where they can also give you any info on how to look after your pet if you’re a first-time owner.
If you’re contacting a breeder, you want to know they’re looking after their hedgehog responsibly and ethically.
They should know if their parents have health conditions, and they should be looking after the hedgehog correctly.
You should also keep in mind if there is a return policy, as sometimes, your relationship with a hedgehog might not work out.
Or maybe situations change, but it’s crucial that when you adopt a hedgehog, you have a backup if, for any reason, you can’t look after the hedgehog anymore.
Hedgehogs aren’t native to North America, nor can you find them naturally in the wild. They were exported into the country in the 90s and aren’t legal in all states.
If you’re looking for a pet hedgehog, it’s best to check your state’s laws and regulations on having a pet hedgehog.
If you do want to have a pet hedgehog, then remember to contact a reputable hedgehog breeder or rescue to ensure the best possible care for your pet.