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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Supervisors consider broadening definition of allowable pets

An African pygmy hedgehog

Fairfax County residents could soon be able to keep hedgehogs, chinchillas, and hermit crabs as pets without a special permit.

The Board of Supervisors on Oct. 17 authorized a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would allow those animals to be considered “commonly accepted pets.”

A planning commission hearing is scheduled for Nov. 29 and a Board of Supervisors hearing is set for Jan. 22

The board resolution notes that the definition of “commonly accepted pets” has not been revised since 1985 and that while hedgehogs, chinchillas, and hermit crabs had once been considered exotic, they are now commonplace pets.

A chinchilla
Over the past 10 years, the Board of Zoning Appeals has reviewed only one application involving the keeping of a chinchilla, states a report from the Department of Planning and Zoning on the proposed amendment. “In the case of animals such as hedgehogs, chinchillas, and hermit crabs,” the report says, “it is likely that most county residents are unaware of zoning and other county regulations concerning these pets.”

While chinchillas and hermit crabs require a special permit, hedgehogs are actually prohibited, as they defined in the code as “wild or exotic.”

The existing zoning ordinance includes in the definition of commonly accepted pets: “domesticated rabbits; hamsters, ferrets, gerbils; guinea pigs; pet mice and pet rats; turtles; fish; dogs; cats; domestic chickens, ducks and geese under two months old; birds such as canaries, parakeets, doves and parrots; worm/ant farms; non-poisonous spiders; chameleons and similar lizards; and non-poisonous snakes.”

The proposed zoning change would also replace the term “non-poisonous” with “not venomous to people” in reference to spiders and snakes.  

1 comment:

  1. I had a hermit crab in Fairfax County some time around 1979/80. They were sold in beach towns all up and down the coast as "souvenirs"...I don't think anyone anywhere near here considered them exotic!