How To Get A Hedgehog In California And Is It Legal?

Hedgehogs are adorable little creatures who live out in the openness, but it can still be tempting to want to home one for yourself.

How To Get A Hedgehog In California And Is It Legal?

When it comes to owning a hedgehog, the rules differ depending on the state, so what are the rules in California? Is it legal to own a hedgehog in California? And if so, how do you go about getting one?

Is It Legal To Own A Hedgehog In California?

The hedgehog is an animal that requires a lot of space to thrive. They need lots of room to move around and play, which means they don’t make good house pets.

As such, they’re not allowed in many states, including California. However, it is not purely about the space as this is not enough to be illegal. Hedgehogs are considered pests and dangerous to humans.

California is known for its strict laws when it comes to pets, especially exotic animals (which the hedgehog falls under).

Because of this, it comes as no surprise that hedgehogs are considered illegal in this state.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Although technically illegal, there is one main exception and that will be granted with a permit.


One way you can pass the laws and own a hedgehog in California is to get a permit with a reasonable excuse. This permit is obtained from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The permit allows you to keep the hedgehog as long as it is kept in a cage with at least 1 square foot of floor space per inch of body length.

You must also provide food, water, and shelter for the hedgehog. If you have any questions regarding your permit, you should not hesitate to contact the department directly.

However, you cannot simply apply for a permit and own a hedgehog – you need a reasonable excuse.

The one thing which the state will listen to is education. If you require a hedgehog for educational purposes to learn more about the species, your permit may be granted.

What Does This Mean For My Hedgehog?

If you are interested in keeping a hedgehog in California, then you should know that it is illegal.

Even though there are legal loopholes (getting a permit), you cannot keep them as pets because they do not make appropriate pets, and there is a risk of danger.

But, if you are looking into learning more about the species, then you may be able to obtain a permit.

If you do manage to obtain a permit, you will still be required to follow all the rules and regulations set forth by the Department of Fish and Game.

These include things like cleaning up after the hedgehog and making sure it has plenty of space to roam around.

So, while it might seem easy to just get a hedgehog and bring it home, it is quite difficult to keep them healthy and happy.

Other Banned Animals In California

Hedgehogs are not the only animals banned in California. There are many to add to this list. Some banned animals include:

  • Gerbils
  • Ferrets
  • Piranhas
  • Squirrels 
  • Monkeys
  • Big cats (lions, tigers, etc.)

What Happens If You’re Caught With A Hedgehog?

What Happens If You’re Caught With A Hedgehog?

In California, the laws are strict about keeping illegal animals, and whilst you may think you will get away with it, getting caught is not worth it.

It is very possible to get caught owning a hedgehog, and if you do, there will be some serious repercussions.

Hedgehog Will Be Taken Away

If you are found accommodating a hedgehog then this animal will naturally be taken away.

As they are not allowed to be kept as pets, they will be removed from your household and taken somewhere where they can be safe.

You Will Be Fined

You will also be subjected to a fine. For this, you can be looking at a fine of as little as $500 and as much as $5,000.

The price for this varies depending on the circumstance and other critical factors.

You Could Face Jail Time

There is also the possibility of being criminally prosecuted and therefore facing jail time.

This too is something that is dependent on circumstances and a number of factors including the reasoning behind owning the pet, its treatment, and your own files.

Are There Hedgehogs In California?

One of the other reasons as to why hedgehogs are not allowed as pets is because they are not native to California. Because of this, any interaction is a threat to California’s wildlife.

The state works hard to preserve their wildlife and care for their environment, but this cannot be done with an animal like a hedgehog tainting the area.

Other States That Don’t Allow Hedgehogs

California is not the only state which does not allow hedgehogs. Some other states are:

  • New York City
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington DC
  • Hawaii
  • Nebraska

Where Is It Legal To Own Hedgehogs?

Despite the states which deem it illegal to own a hedgehog, there are more states out there that do allow it.

Rules may differ from place to place, and perhaps even area to area, but most states outside the above list allow you to keep hedgehogs as pets.

There are two other states, however, that have rules in place to make acquiring a pet hedgehog more of a challenge.


Whilst Wisconsin loves the hedgehog and will happily allow it as a pet, you will need to obtain a permit if you are bringing it from another state to theirs. This is called the Animal Movement Import Permit.

New Jersey

In order to own a hedgehog in New Jersey, you will need to have a $10 annual permit.

Final Thoughts

California is one of the few states which do not allow hedgehogs, however, if you do need one for a specific circumstance, you may be able to protest this and obtain a permit.

Hedgehogs are very friendly animals. They are not aggressive towards people and are generally harmless.

However, if you do decide to take care of them, make sure you know what your state laws are regarding pets before taking the leap.