Photo credit: Claus Rebler via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA
When 8 year-old Judson King decided he wanted his favorite video game character for a pet three years ago, it wasn't just some fleeting phase based on fantastical whims like it would be for most youngsters. No, the boy's infatuation with Sonic the Hedgehog set a chain of events in motion that would end up actually changing Kansas law.After playing the videogame Sonic the Hedgehog, King became bent on acquiring a hedgehog of his own as a pet. (Can't say we blame him: the hedgehog made our list of the 7 cutest animals on the web) But hedgehogs are banned by state law in Kansas--likely enough to stop any kid too young to head to a PG-13 movie alone. But according to KTKA news, King instead spent his nights doing research and drafting letters to his local city hall.
In 2008, the city commission finally put his letter on the agenda, and before long, the 11-year old boy was standing in front of the city commission. He apparently showed up wearing a suit and tie, and briefed the commission with a slew of facts about hedgehogs. The council couldn't find any reason to maintain the ban--they couldn't seem to find why it existed in the first place--and lo, hedgehog pet ownership was legalized in Lawrence, Kansas.
Guess it's a good thing he wasn't a diehard SpongeBob fan--that one might've been harder to work out.
Why There Might Have Been a Ban
It's a neat story, sure--but here are some reasons why such a ban might've existed:
1. Hedgehogs are tough pets to keep: they're insectivores, so feeding them properly can present difficulties to families accustomed to feeding pets kibble or canned food. They're also nocturnal, and require a lot of space to roam (they have trouble adapting to enclosed areas)--and thus relatively difficult to care for. They don't have much resistance to climate variation either. For these reasons, they have a high mortality rate, as far as mammalian pets go.
2. The species is threatened in some countries. They're protected in Spain and France, and the hedgehog is endangered in England.
3. The hedgehog isn't endemic to North America--which means buying one for your home is encouraging an overseas pet trade.
That said, there are far worse pets to keep--and that little hedgehog really is pretty darn cute.