Hedgehogs Now Legal as Pets in Fairfax County


Until yesterday, it was a crime to be prickly but loveable—if you were a hedgehog, that is.

These spiny animals were banned as pets in Fairfax County until Tuesday, Jan. 22, when the Board of Supervisors legalized hedgehogs as pets, as well as lifted the need for zoning permissions to keep chinchillas and hermit crabs.

The board added these three animals to the list of commonly accepted pets in the county’s zoning rules. This means they can be kept as household pets without any special permissions.


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Previously, hedgehogs were prohibited while chinchillas and hermit crabs required a special permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The county made the change because hedgehogs have become popular, and zoning officials said they have received an increasing number of inquiries about whether it was allowable to keep them as pets.

Fairfax joins Arlington and Loudoun counties as jurisdictions in Northern Virginia that permit hedgehogs.


Commonly Accepted Pets

Lions, tigers and bears still aren’t legal, along with other wild or exotic animals. However, the county’s other commonly accepted pets, include: Hermit Crab

  • Gerbils
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs
  • Pet mice and rats
  • Rabbits (domesticated)
  • Ferrets
  • Turtles
  • Fish
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Domestic chickens, ducks and geese under 2 months old
  • Birds such as canaries, parakeets, doves and parrots
  • Worm/ant farms
  • Non-venomous snakes


Special Care and Health Risks

Before choosing a hedgehog or chinchilla as a pet, officials recommend that residents first learn more about them because these animals require specific environments, nutrition and care. Talk to a local vet or a reputable breeder.

Like some other common pets, such as turtles or mice, it’s also important to know that hedgehogs can present a health risk to humans, including salmonella infections. Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to avoid these infections.

For more information about what kinds of pets are allowed in Fairfax County, contact the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314, TTY 711.

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