Hedgehogs become more popular as pets in U.S.

Feb. 25, 2014 at 12:49 PM

NEW YORK, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Hedgehogs, prickly critters that can fit in one's hands, have become a popular pet in U.S. households, which may be illegal in some states, a review indicated.

The New York municipal health code, for example, classifies hedgehogs -- which have always-moving pink snouts and porcupine-like quills -- as wild animals and unsuitable to keep in the home, ABC News reported Tuesday.

Some states, such as California and Maine, also designated keeping them as pets illegal, but will sometimes issue a permit for educational purposes.

"Every state is different in how their laws are set up," Dave Salmoni of cable television's Animal Planet told ABC News. "The laws and regulations also change often, so getting in touch with your local Fish and Game official may be a great place to start."

The hedgehog has seen a spike in popularity in recent years in part because of the advent of websites such as Cute Emergency and Instagram accounts that recount a "hedgie's" antics.

But, Salomni and others said, exotic animals should be left in the wild.

"There always are ethical and moral issues with keeping exotics," Salmoni told ABC News. "In the case of hedgehogs, one of the big cons is that it is a nocturnal animal. So the pet owner either lets it sleep all day or takes it out of its enclosure to interact with it at a time in the day that the animal should be resting. Exotic animals as a general rule do not make great pets."

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