Tysons, VA

City of Falls Church residents can now have chinchillas, hedgehogs, turtles, hermit crabs and tortoises as pets.

The City Council approved adding the five animals to its list of allowed pets on Monday (June 24) — about five months after Fairfax County legalized pet hedgehogs, chinchillas and hermit crabs.

After a robust discussion last week — focused mainly around hedgehogs — about health and safety concerns, several of the councilmembers, including two who admitted to owning hermit crabs illegally, expressed support for the change.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that require space, exercise and room temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure they do not start hibernating, according to the Hedgehog Welfare Society. Along with cats, dogs, frogs, hamsters and many other animals, hedgehogs can spread salmonella, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before voting on Monday night, Mayor David Tarter and several councilmembers praised student activist Isabel D., a junior at George Mason High School, for her civic engagement and efforts pushing for the city to legalize hedgehogs as pets.

The motion passed 5-2, with the mayor and Councilmember Dan Sze voting no.

Photo by Hans-Olof Andersson on Unsplash

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