Bill would allow hedgehogs, sugar gliders as pets

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Hedgehogs are described by some as cute and quiet.

Around the country, more and more people are taking them in as pets.

However, in Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to own a hedgehog as a pet.

State Rep. David Zimmerman, a Republican who represents part of Lancaster County, is behind what some people are calling “pocket pet” legislation. 

“They’re not actually from these parts, from Pennsylvania, or even the United States for that matter,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman wants to make it legal to own hedgehogs. Pennsylvania is one of only four states that doesn’t allow the animals as pets. 

“It came about because I had some constituents that were asking about having these pets and making them legal,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman’s proposal, House Bill 1273, would also make it legal to own sugar gliders as pets. 

Sugar gliders are tiny marsupials.

Dr. William Lewis of the Lincoln Highway Veterinarian Clinic said he is on board with the legislation.

“In the sense of sugar gliders and hedgehogs, I have no problem with them being pets,” Lewis said.

Some experts argue that “pocket pets” have no place inside a home. Advocates also say they could be a danger to themselves, or wildlife if they were to get loose.

Lewis said despite his support, there are some risks to having hedgehogs and sugar gliders as pets.

“Many times, people get something because it looks cute, because it’s exotic, but they don’t have any knowledge about it,” he said. “So the husbandry is wrong, the diet is wrong, and the enclosures that they are in is wrong.”

At one point, the bill included amendments that would have impacted Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania, but Zimmerman said the changes were dropped on Tuesday.

The bill is expected to go to the House floor for a vote on Wednesday.

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