A new report says young children should not keep hedgehogs as pets -- or hamsters, baby chicks, lizards and turtles, for that matter -- because of risk of disease.
According to the nation's leading pediatricians' group, exotic pets can carry dangerous and sometimes potentially deadly germs. And the report says such pets may be more prone than cats and dogs to bite, scratch or claw -- putting children younger than 5 particularly at risk.
Young children are vulnerable because of developing immune systems plus they often put their hands in their mouths.
That means families with children younger than 5 should avoid owning "nontraditional" pets.
The report from the American Academy of Pediatrics says kids that young should avoid contact with these animals in petting zoos or other public places.
The report appears in the October edition of Pediatrics.