Can We Keep a “Pet Squirrel”

The thought of having a squirrel as a pet can be intriguing. These charismatic creatures, with their bushy tails and boundless energy, seem like they’d make for entertaining and endearing companions.

However, squirrels are complex animals with specific needs. So, can you keep a squirrel as a pet? This article will explore the ins and outs of Pet Squirrel ownership to help you decide if this is the right pet for you.

Pet Squirrel

Legality of Keeping a Squirrel as a Pet

Before falling in love with the idea of a Pet Squirrel, it’s crucial to understand the legality surrounding this practice.

Legal Restrictions

In many places around the world, keeping a squirrel as a pet is illegal. Regulations vary widely, so check with local wildlife and game agencies, as well as regional pet laws.

Some areas may allow it with a special permit, while others ban it outright due to the potential for zoonotic diseases and ecological disturbances.

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The Challenges of Squirrel Ownership

Keeping a squirrel as a pet presents unique challenges. Squirrels are wild animals and differ significantly from domesticated pets like dogs and cats.

Specialized Care

Squirrels require a specialized diet to stay healthy. They need a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, with the right balance of calcium and phosphorus. Inadequate diet can lead to severe health issues, such as metabolic bone disease.

Environment and Enrichment

Squirrels are highly active animals that need ample space to climb, jump, and explore. A small cage won’t suffice – they need an environment that mimics their natural habitat. Mental stimulation is also essential to prevent stress and behavioral issues.

Lifespan and Commitment

Squirrels can live up to 20 years in captivity, meaning a significant commitment of time, energy, and financial resources.

Veterinary Care

Not all veterinarians are trained in squirrel care, so you may struggle to find suitable medical support.

Squirrel Species Suitable as Pets

If you decide to proceed with owning a squirrel and it’s legal in your area, consider these popular Pet Squirrel species:

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrels are renowned for their adaptability. However, they’re also known for being very active and requiring a lot of mental stimulation.

Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrels are usually more docile than their non-gliding counterparts. They are nocturnal, though, which might not suit everyone’s lifestyle.

Sugar Glider

While technically not a squirrel, Sugar Gliders are often kept as pets due to their small size and social nature. Remember, they’re native to Australia, and there are strict regulations on their ownership.

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Conclusion

Keeping a squirrel as a pet is a significant decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It requires comprehensive knowledge, considerable commitment, and a suitable environment. Moreover, the legality of squirrel ownership is a critical factor to consider.

While squirrels are undoubtedly charming creatures, their needs align more with the wild than a domestic setting. It’s often better to admire these lively, adorable animals from a distance while they scamper around in their natural habitat, where they truly belong.

End of Article Note: Wildlife rehabilitation and rescue is a professional field that requires specialized training and permits.

If you find an injured or abandoned squirrel, do not attempt to care for it yourself. Contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center or animal control agency.