Animals

Illegally trafficked African hedgehogs seized by police in Victoria

The discovery of two illegally trafficked African pygmy hedgehogs in Victoria has sparked a nationwide investigation by authorities.
The animals were seized from a property in Richmond, in Melbourne’s inner-east, leading officers to uncover a large illegal trade network of exotic animals.

Crime Stoppers Victoria and Agriculture Victoria are investigating where the two hedgehogs came from, but say they aren’t the first to be found in the country.

This is a file image of an African pygmy hedgehog. (Getty)

Illegal hedgehogs have previously been found in Queensland and New South Wales.

Crime Stoppers Victoria Chief Executive Stella Smith said online marketplaces had made it easier to sell exotic pest animals.

“The journey endured by many exotic animals during illegal transit is traumatic,” she said.

“The two hedgehogs discovered in Victoria were most likely bound and gagged to prevent detection. It is cruel, against the law, and needs to stop.”

“The community also needs to understand the potentially devastating impact exotic animals can have on our environment and on agriculture. They are not suitable pets.”

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Hedgehogs can pose a significant threat to the state, Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity Leader Miranda Green said.

“The African pygmy hedgehog could similarly harm Victoria’s ecosystem if given the chance. Classified as a Prohibited Pest Animal, it threatens native wildlife like frogs, lizards, insects, and bird eggs,” she said.

“We are fortunate that some fast-thinking officers from Victoria Police were able to identify the animals and contact us. Any animal illegally trafficked into the country not only endures cruel treatment but also poses a significant threat to Victoria.”

Crime Stoppers has since launched the ‘Your Pet, Our Pest’ campaign, focusing on in-demand exotic pets, such as hedgehogs.

Penalties for importing, keeping, breeding, and trading illegally sourced exotic pest animals, including the African pygmy hedgehog can result in up to $210,000 in fines or two years in prison.

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