Do Squirrels Make Good Pets? Is it Possible to Domesticate a Squirrel?
Can squirrels be pets? Well yes, there are some states where you need licenses and some others where it is illegal to keep squirrels as pets, so if you wish to know can you keep a pet squirrels, read on to learn more about squirrels as a pet.
Squirrels are small mammals found in woody areas. Generally, humans don’t keep squirrels as pets, but they could be interesting companions.
Types of Squirrels
- The most common ones found in the USA are the Red, the Gray and the Southern Flying Squirrel. The latter are available as pets in some states.
- Eastern greys are black, gray and brown in color with a golden hue and are mostly seen in the eastern part of the US and in Canada.
- The American Red squirrels are reddish brown on the back with white undercoats and they are smaller than the Eastern grays. You can find these in the east and the west, and in the north and the south of North America.
Can you keep a squirrel as a pet? Most people ask this question to veterinarians. It is not advisable to capture an adult squirrel and keep as a pet, as it is difficult to train or domesticate them.
Is it legal to have a pet squirrel or a pet chipmunk? Do your research on squirrels as a pet and take care that you are conforming to the local pet squirrel laws before you purchase a squirrel.
Contact the National Wildlife Federation to check whether you have the necessary pet documentation. They are not traded in the conventional pet market and it may not be legal in your municipality. You might also need to get a permit for keeping one in your home.
How to Get a Squirrel – Squirrels as a Pet
When you’re considering squirrel as a pet, you can pet a wild squirrel or just get one from online breeders who will sell you a baby squirrel.
- When you want squirrels for pets, select one that is young and captive bred, hand raised or weaned from the mother early on, so that it is easy to tame it. Selecting a young one also means that you can have your pet for a longer time. So how long do squirrels live as pets? The life expectancy is around 10 years, but the average squirrel lifespan is just 18 months. They can live longer in captivity, even as long as 10 years.
- Buy separate cages, if you are planning on more than one squirrels as a pet. If you have a single indoor squirrel cage, make separate nests for them. Bird cages in vertical structures also work well. Squirrels need to climb and chew on something. So wooden structures with clean branches are ideal. Prepare bedding using hayor a nesting box for sleeping.
Look for a squirrel that has bright, clear eyes, does not have any fleas and ticks and has a shiny, clean coat and healthy weight.
Pet Baby Squirrel Care
How to take care of a baby squirrel? A baby squirrel cannot accomplish anything by itself, so it requires intense care. If you want squirrels as pets, you need to give utmost care for about 3 months.
- When raising baby squirrels, after this period, you can release them outside and just fill a squirrel feeder that they can feed on. Place it where they can reach them.
- Keep the baby squirrel warm by making a nest around it. Place warm water bottles under its blanket. You could keep the baby squirrel in a box with an open lid.
- Squirrels as a pet are docile at this age and you can handle and feed them without fear.
- You can use a syringe for feeding initially and then progress to squirrel feeder bottles with long nipples.
What to feed a baby squirrel? Never feed baby squirrels with human formula or cow’s milk. Instead, try Esbilac available at pet food stores. Start with the powdered version and then move on to the solution.
- Continue with the puppy milk and supplement it slowly by adding yogurt or fat content. Follow the guidelines and don’t allow your squirrel to overeat as it could cause digestive problems.
- After three weeks, they start developing front teeth. Help them by giving solid food like a rodent block, made for mice and rats. You can use a squirrel feeder for this.
Ongoing Squirrel Care Tips
Follow these guidelines for ongoing care when you are considering squirrels as a pet.
- Don’t treat your domesticated squirrel like a typical pet. Once a squirrel becomes mobile, it will rush around the house and cannot be kept caged all the time. A squirrel is not an indoor pet.
- Try raising it with other squirrels. They learn new skills from one another.
- Feed and bathe it properly and play with it too. Don’t let it come close to cats and dogs.
- A small box with a blanket is enough to begin with. After five weeks, you can have a larger box with some climbing materials. Release the squirrels outside when they are about 12 weeks old.
- Keep a water bowl and some food near the nesting box to ensure they get nutrition and come back to you, when you have squirrels as a pet.
Taming a Squirrel
So, when you pet a wild squirrel, learn how to train a squirrel to be a pet?
Warning: Squirrels are wild animals so be alert for a squirrel bite or scratch!
- When you want squirrels as a pet, get a baby squirrel, so that you can train it more easily.
- Learn about proper squirrel care and its dietary needs. Feed it regularly, so that it appears regularly.
- Section off a special area in the yard for feeding them. Place the food on a bird feeder so that they feel safe and will even start creating a nest for themselves.
- Buy peanuts, sunflower seeds etc. if you have squirrels as pets and leave them on the feeder. Within a short time, you fill find squirrels at the feeder.
Make squirrel noises while you hold a peanut in your hand. It makes them lose fear and come near you. Stoop down to offer one. Reinforce the fact that you are not dangerous to them. The next thing you know, one might be clambering on your lap to accept the nut. You can also put the nut on your shoulder, so that they crawl up and get it.
Remember: to be patient and persevering when having squirrels as a pet.
Remember: If you’re taking in a wild squirrel, take it to the vet for checking against parasites and other diseases.
Squirrels Bonding with Humans
They are adorable as pets but do squirrels bond well with humans?
- They can bond best at an early age of within six months.
- They will bond better if you show them affection and make them dependant on you for food.
However, their claws and teeth become sharp with age and they can harm babies, other pets and your furniture. They are also aggressive during the mating season. However, you can domesticate them and change their behavior, especially the flying squirrels.
- Handle the squirrel gently quite often, so that she gets accustomed to you. Allow all family members to handle it, so that she loses fear.
- Spend time with your squirrel every day. Allow your pet to go outside for about half an hour every day to get a dose of vitamin D sunshine.
Warning: When having squirrels as a pet, remember that they have no inhibitions about biting people and could cause serious damage with their incisors and sharp claws!
- What do pet squirrels eat? Squirrel food generally consists of nuts; fruits; seeds; tree flowers and buds; mushrooms and fungi.
- The Eastern Gray Squirrel also eats insects; amphibians; bird eggs; and small mammals.
- Additional foods you can feed your pet squirrel as part of a squirrel diet are bird seeds; pecans; grapes; corn; zucchini; pumpkin; carrots; apples and even tidbits like Oreo cookies!
The maximum nutritional benefit would be from nuts in their shells, like walnuts, white oak acorns and beechnuts. Another advantage is that it gives them something to gnaw, so that they don’t gnaw at other things in your home. You can pick these from nearby forests, as you will not get the shelled versions in the stores.
- Nut squares and balls created by nutritionists for squirrels, offering vitamin supplements specially for squirrels.
Last Word on Squirrels for Pets
Can you have a squirrel as a pet? It’s against the law in some states, for one thing. For another, though squirrels seem quite charming from far off, they are after all rodents. People would prefer to settle for a more conventional pet like a dog or a cat or even a bird.
So, can you keep squirrels as pets? Now, you be the judge and answer that one! But be sure that you are ready with the time and commitment. You can get a male or a female as they behave similarly. Good luck with your new pet!!