Hedgehogs, small creatures with quills, are illegal in six states of America including Georgia. The reasons for these regulations are in question: are hedgehogs dangerous enough to be banned? Hedgehogs are capable of carrying diseases that are transmittable to humans. Also, they are naturally insectivores. This is considered a danger because, if a few pet hedgehogs escaped and set up a resident population, they would eat all of the insects that benefit crops in Georgia.
Though hedgehogs are not equipped with razor sharp teeth or claws, some consider them harmful to the individual because they can transmit both deadly and non-lethal diseases.
One of the most common diseases caught by a hedgehog owner is the salmonella virus. Salmonella affects a person’s stomach, mainly, and it can be potentially deadly in weaker bodies, such as infants and elderly people.
A significant fraction of Georgia economics relies on the agricultural industry. Things in Georgia’s economy would not bode well if the agricultural industry were to go belly up. The reason that hedgehogs affect agriculture is that they are naturally insectivores. So, with their being native to Europe and not existing in the wild in America, hedgehogs could waltz in and eat all of the bugs that they wanted to with no natural enemies to hinder them. Though hedgehogs’ eating bugs sounds beneficial to crops, they would eat both the bugs that destroy the crops and the ones that benefit them. The Georgia economy wants to stay on the safe side and let both the beneficial and destructive bugs live in order to keep agriculture strong.
Though unlicensed ownership of hedgehogs is illegal in Georgia, licensed breeding is allowed. Though, all hedgehogs bred in Georgia must me shipped out of Georgia into a state where hedgehogs are legal.
What happens if a Georgian would just like to keep one hedgehog as a pet, and meets all the requirements of a licensed breeder? It is difficult to withhold the permit if only one hedgehog is owned because there is a yearly fee on the permit, and it is intended to be out of breeding profits. This complication causes many Georgia residents to buy hedgehogs off of the black market.
On one hand, many irresponsible people purchase pets on whims and are not ready for the responsibilities that come in tandem with said pets. Permits are the optimal direction for the laws to point in, considering unequipped owners. Alison Womack, an exotic animal caretaker at the Chestatee Wildlife Reserve, stated: “These are not like cats and dogs. The needs of these animals are very specific, and require a lot of practice and expertise. So there’s a good reason why they require special permits for them.” Also, even if hedgehogs were only owned by responsible people, there is still a possibility that a couple hedgehogs could escape and eat Georgia’s insects.
On the other hand, it would make sense for hedgehogs to be legalized because the owner who invests in such a pet is suspected to be responsible enough to care for that pet and not let it loose in the wild. Also, if the hedgehog is bought from a licensed breeder and not an illegal hole-in-the-wall operation, it is very unlikely that the hedgehog would be carrying any diseases. Whether or not they pick up diseases and transmit those to humans would be based mostly on the conditions that they are exposed to and exist in.
Despite owners who would be able to keep their hedgehogs contained and keep them happy, hedgehogs will remain illegal in Georgia because the agricultural industry is too important in the economy to jeopardize. Also, exotic animals such as hedgehogs need to be properly cared for by people with experience and knowledge in the area of exotic animal handling.
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