Petition to Airlines: Allow Hedgehogs to Fly in the Cabin on Planes!

Petition to Airlines: Allow Hedgehogs to Fly in the Cabin on Planes!

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Alexandra Clymer started this petition to American Airlines and

Hedgehogs are wonderful animals and pets that have gained popularity in the last decade. They are smart, curious and adorable little ones who spend their days snoozing and snuggling and their nights sniffing and adventuring! I was recently gifted an African Pygmy Hedgehog named Polly Pocket (because she fits in my pocket :)) and have since realized that I am unable to bring her on any plane with me. As I cannot imagine traveling without my little girl, I decided to research why they are not allowed on planes and see if I could change that fact.

After reading countless web pages, abstracts, articles, blogs and other petitions (thank you Zoe Herman), I learned that the general reason these cuties are not allowed on planes is because they are not popular enough to dispel the misinformation that is out there about them or to warrant a changing of the rules. That is not a good enough reason! So, I am here to list the reasons why they should be allowed to travel under the seat in front of you, just like a small cat or dog :)

The first misconception that adds stigma to my hedgehog is that they assume she is a rodent (like mice, rats, squirrels, prairiedogs, chipmunks, chinchillas, porcupines, beavers, guineapigs, hamsters, gerbils and capybaras). Hedgehogs are actually in the Erinaceidae family, similar to shrews.

The problem with this confusion is that although rodents can be nice pets, they can also chew their way out of bags and carriers etc., can and will bite or show aggression, have somewhat strong body odor and are HUGE vectors for disease (hello, black plague). All of these things make them less than suitable for air travel in the cabin.

Hedgehogs on the other hand, only bite or chew their food or things that smell like food. They cannot and do not chew their way through anything else. They are also non-aggressive and do not normally bite as a sign of defense. In the rare case they do, their bites and quills aren't able to puncture skin.

As for dander, body odor and allergies, they produce little-to-no dander, do not smell and are practically hypoallergenic. It is extremely rare to be allergic to hedgehogs. Allergies normally come about due to the surroundings of the hedgehog, not the hedgehog itself.

As for diseases related to pet hedgehogs, the only one associated with them is salmonella, which is extremely treatable and only presents itself in hedgehogs living in dirty cages/surroundings. Any other related diseases/infections/virus' have been recorded in such small numbers that they do not deserve mention here. You can read more about hedgehogs minor health risks here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3294334/

*Please note that Foot-and-Mouth disease is only associated with European Hedgehogs that are not kept as pets, and is only transferable to other animals, not humans.*

Next, hedgehogs are ideal travel companions, small, quiet and nocturnal. They weigh between 0.67-1.1lbs (300-500g), compared to 8.9lbs (4,037g) for the average house cat. This means that they'll easily fit underneath the seat in front of you on an airplane, allowing for more room for the both of you than when carrying-on a cat or dog. They make a wide range of noises, but all but one are practically if not completely inaudible unless you are right next to their face. They are also nocturnal, sleeping 18-20+ hours a day, waking around midnight or thereabouts. This means that they will most likely be snoozing for the duration of your flight. In the chance they are awake, they will be able to run around their carrier with satisfaction.

Finally, they are unable to travel in the cargo hold, temperature controlled or not, because they are fragile animals that require temperatures between 72-80F (22-27C), which is above many holds temperatures. Airlines advertise that the pet cargo hold is the same temperature as the passenger cabin, but with so many less bodies, it is too cold and drafty for our African friends.

Everything considered, with a proper veterinarian note, hedgehog pets (African pygmy hedgehogs) should be able to fly in the cabin with their owners, the same as cats, small dogs and birds are today. Please sign this petition and reach out to the major American airline companies to draw attention to this misinformation surrounding hedgehog pets and to allow them to remain with their families during holiday travel etc! Polly and I will be very grateful!

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