As a student seeking his own apartment, I have begun to discuss future pets with my roommates. Of all the animals we thought would be unique to own, we decided that a hedgehog would be a really fun and interesting pet.
However, to our dismay, we discovered last week that hedgehogs are illegal to own in several states, and one of those states is Pennsylvania. As odd as this law is, it has apparently been enacted by the Pennsylvania Game Commission since the early 90s.
Why would state authorities decide to outlaw these spiky, little companions? Well, according to PGC’s official ruling on the subject, because hedgehogs are not native to Pennsylvania they should not be allowed to be kept as pets.
However, if a person purchases a Pennsylvania-bred hedgehog, the animal is legal. It seems rather difficult to understand this whole idea, since the hedgehogs are still in the state regardless of importation. It boggles the mind to figure out this very odd and trivial law.
I looked up the status of hedgehogs in the United States, and besides Pennsylvania, they are also illegal in California, Georgia, Arizona and Hawaii.
Hawaii has the only valid reason for making hedgehogs illegal: a fear of escaped hedgehogs breeding (Hawaii has good hedgehog climate).
Using the foreign animal argument does not hold any water, especially in a country that has imported thousands of foreign animals.
Among the famous exotic pets Americans own are parrots, guinea pigs, hamsters and numerous types of dogs that were not originally bred in this country. So what makes hedgehogs any different than these other pets?
Well, the answer really does not exist, and this law will probably never be fully understood. Actually, to show just how serious the PGC is about hedgehogs, the Commission has implemented a raid program against potential hedgehog smugglers and owners.
That is right, if you own a hedgehog the PGC can break down your door, take your pet, and “destroy” the illegal pet. And, to top off the silly idea of breaking down your door for a hedgehog, the PGC will fine you until your wallet screams.
All of this enforcement seems like an awful waste of time on behalf of the PGC.
The Commission has cited no other reason for illegalizing hedgehogs other than the foreign animal argument. If my pet hedgehog escaped, then somehow found another hedgehog within 10 miles of my house, mated with the hedgehog, and then formed a giant group of hedgehogs that would overrun the state, that would be one interesting story.
Unfortunately for the PGC, this is a very silly law that has so many holes it contradicts itself, repeatedly.
Laws like this need to be changed because for one, they are silly and outdated and two, because I really want a hedgehog.