• USDA licensing and breeding hedgehogs

    Written by Ann Salamon

    Federal state and local laws
    The United States Department if Agriculture (USDA) licensing laws are federal laws. They apply to everyone in the United States. This article addresses the federal USDA law and is a brief overview of the USDA licensing process as it pertains to hedgehogs.

    In addition, each state has its own laws. This is a link to an article which addresses legal issues by state and contains the addresses of each state department concerned with animal licensing and legality. Hedgehogs: Are They Legal in Your State? http://www.hedgehogworld.com/content.php?148-legal

    Local animal and zoning laws for your town or county may apply as well. It is your responsibility to find out about these laws BEFORE you own or start to breed hedgehogs.

    Types of licenses
    The law governing regulated animals under the USDA is called the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations. Under these Acts, there are 3 type of USDA license that may apply to individuals breeding hedgehogs.

    Class A- breeder
    Class B-dealer
    Class C-exhibitor

    There are also registration requirements for researchers and other larger type facilities that we will not discuss here. The class A license is what most small scale hedgehog breeders have. It lets you sell the offspring of your own hedgehogs born in your own facility which has a stable colony of animals. A class B license let you buy hedgehogs wholesale and then resell them to others. You are basically a middleman between a large scale commercial breeder and the buyers. A class C license is for petting zoos, nature centers, party facilities and others who exhibit their animals to the public. It is not a breeders license in most cases. You will have to consider what license is best based on the majority of your activities.

    Regulated animals-type and number
    Next you will have to figure out whether the animals you have are regulated animals under the Act. In addition to hedgehogs, animals like sugar gliders, degus, flying squirrels, spiny mice, prairie dogs and jerboas are considered regulated animals. Dogs and cats are regulated under separate rules. Cold blooded animals like reptiles and fish are exempt. Farm animals, if kept and used as work and pack animals or used for their fur or their meat are also exempt. Animals which have historically been kept commonly as pets such as guinea pigs may be subject to regulation depending on what other breeding females you own. If you are unsure whether the breeding animals you own are subject to regulation, you can call the USDA licensing division. If you have more than 3 breeding females of any regulated animal you need to be licensed. You cannot become licensed if you have fewer than three breeding females, but you MUST become licensed if you have more than 3 breeding females of any regulated species.

    Licensing and inspection
    If you do need to become licensed, you must get a licensing application form and fill it out and send it back to the USDA with the required fee. Then the USDA will schedule your pre-licensing inspection.

    The inspections focus on the following areas:

    Licensee requirement
    • Over 18 years of age
    • Adequate knowledge and experience with the species

    Facilities and operating conditions
    • Structural strength
    • Water and power
    • Storage
    • Waste disposal
    • Washrooms and sinks
    • Ambient temperature
    • Ventilation
    • Lighting
    • Drainage
    • Space requirements

    Animal Health and husbandry
    • Feeding
    • Watering
    • Sanitation
    • Adequate number of employees
    • Separation of incompatable animals

    Required record keeping and identification
    Veterinary Health care plan
    Transportation of animals

    It is up to each individual inspector to make a decision as to whether there is anything which does not comply with the standards. If there are any problems found during the pre-licensing inspection, then you will have to correct them within 90 days or two more inspections (whichever comes first ) in order to become licensed. If there are no problems found, then your license will be issued and you will be re-inspected at least once a year.

    These are the current addresses, phone numbers and website for the USDA licensing division if you need to contact them about getting a prelicensing inspection

    RALEIGH, NC 27606
    PHONE - 919-855-7100
    FAX - 919-855-7123

    2150 CENTRE AVE
    BLDG B,
    MAIL STOP #3W11
    FT. COLLINS, CO 80526
    PHONE - 970-494-7478
    FAX - 970-472-9558

    WEBSITE: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/index.shtml

    Thank you to the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Eastern Division for reviewing this article before publication to ensure it's accuracy.