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USDA Licensing

The goal behind United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) licensing for hedgehogs is to ensure the proper animal care and comfort of animals as required by law under the Animal Welfare Act passed by Congress in 1966 and last amended in 1990. This law protects many animals not raised for food or fiber, including hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Breeders with more than 3 breeding females, read footnote pet stores or petting zoo-type operations that buy or sell hedgehogs, exhibit them to the public, transport them commercially, or use them for teaching must be licensed by the USDA.

Aside from USDA licensing, certain states require a State-Level license just to own hedgehogs; others require a license to breed; while others have no regulations whatsoever. Your State Department of Fish and Wildlife or Fish and Game usually control these licensing requirements. A list of these offices is below:

State Wildlife Offices

Even if your State does not require a license, the USDA still requires one if you intend to breed or exhibit hedgehogs. (This does not include exhibition for show, as no license is required for showing your hedgehog) Even if you intend to give away hedgehogs more than once a year, you will require a license.

There are three different types of licensing under USDA/APHIS regulations:
  • Class A License This license allows you to breed "exotic" animals and sell them to the public as pets.
  • Class B License This license allows wholesalers to broker animals and sell them through wholesale channels.
  • Class C license This license allows you to exhibit animals displayed to the public or to conduct performances featuring animals
To obtain a license, contact the USDA office in your region (Western, Eastern) and ask for APHIS form 7003-A. Use this guide to locate your office:


You are only allowed one USDA License so you will have to choose the license that best fits what you do. There is no charge for the application although there is a $10.00 (as of March 2006) application fee at the time of submission. According to the USDA document, Guidelines for Dealers, Exhibitors, Transporters, and Researchers”, The annual license fee for licensed animal dealers (Class A or B) ranges from $30 to $750, depending on your annual dollar volume of business in regulated animals. (Class A licensees are breeders and deal only in animals they breed and raise. Class B licensees include brokers, bunchers, and operators of auction sales.) The annual license fee for licensed animal exhibitors (Class C) ranges from $30 to $300, depending on the number of regulated animals held. In addition to the annual license fee, an application fee of $10 must be paid with all yearly license applications.

Once the package arrives, fill out the application and return it with the application fee. With the application package there will be a Program of Veterinary Care Form that your local veterinarian must complete and sign. An annual vet checkup of all of the animals being licensed is a requirement in order to maintain USDA licensure. Keep this vet form and give it to your USDA Inspector when they come to inspect you for the first time.

Some time after you have returned the application, a USDA Inspector will set up an appointment to visit your facility. They will make the final decision as to whether you meet the minimum USDA requirements or not.

Basic requirements your inspector will be looking for include but are not limited to the ease with which surfaces the animals are kept on can be cleaned and kept clean; The cleanliness of the area in which the animals are kept; food and bedding kept in sealed containers, away from pests and dust and kept in a safe, dry area; adequate ventilation and climate control in the room where the animals are kept; proper food and adequate water supplies; and, adequate habitat size.


** USDA considers any animals that have not been spayed (unaltered) to be "breeding animals", whether they are currently being used for breeding purposes or not. Some breeders think they can bypass USDA licensing by breeding no more than 3 of their females at a time, but USDA does not agree with this interpretation and considers such operations to be in violation of Federal law.
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