California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Why can't I have a hedgehog, sugar glider, ferret, or other restricted, non-native species as a pet in California?

hedgehog, photo (c) Tony Wills

Young hedgehog. Photo © Tony Wills

CDFW receives frequent inquiries about why various non-native species are restricted from being kept as pets in California. Here’s why non-native animals like hedgehogs, sometimes desired as pets, are not a good idea or legal under current regulations:

  • To protect public health and safety, agriculture, wildlife, and natural resources, California's restrictions apply to many kinds of wild and domestic animals that are legal pets elsewhere, including hedgehogs, gerbils, degus, prairie dogs, sugar gliders, fur-ranch foxes, monkeys, and Quaker parakeets. The departments of Food and Agriculture, Health Services and Fish and Wildlife are mandated to protect these interests. Section 671, Title 14, of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) was established to restrict the possession of thousands of different species of animals for one or more of the following reasons: (1) because their numbers are threatened or endangered in the wild, (2) because they pose a threat to our native fish and wildlife, agriculture or public health and safety. The Legislature, in Section 2118 of the Fish and Game Code, included all species of the Order Insectivora on its list of prohibited species.
  • There are at least 17 known species of hedgehogs. All species are restricted from possession as pets in California primarily because they can become pests where introduced into the wild where they don’t naturally occur. There are also many unknown questions related to natural predators and potential diseases when any non-native animal is introduced into the wild. If personal ownership were possible for hedgehog species, it's likely that there would be similar requests for many other non-native species, putting California’s rich wildlife diversity at risk.
  • CDFW doesn’t have the staff or funding to work on these types of issues and does not support any changes to existing laws and regulations without solid scientific evidence demonstrating no risk to our native wildlife and their habitats.
  • CDFW is authorized to issue permits only to qualified individuals or institutions for limited purposes such as research, public exhibition, or shelter. Permits are not issued to import or possess any wild animal for pet purposes.