Unquestionably adorable animals, squirrels are. They are cute enough to want to retain because of their bushy tails, large eyes, and little noses. Have you, however, ever seen a pet squirrel? There are a lot of strong reasons why this is probably not the case. Even though they were terrible home guests, they used to be often kept as pets!
Of course, other animals were also kept as pets, such as buffalo, badgers, and raccoons, and most people should be aware that these are not ideal creatures to have within your home.
The tradition ended when people learned how terrible pets squirrels are. Even yet, because it’s difficult to turn down such a charming little creature, let’s discuss the drawbacks of owning a squirrel as a pet.
Can A Squirrel Be A Pet?
Since squirrels are wild creatures, it is against the law to keep one as a pet in most places. In spite of this, people continue to domesticate wild squirrels and keep them as pets.
There are those who like exotic creatures, as we all know. I advise you to look up the regulations in your region before getting a pet squirrel. To prevent paying fines, be sure you are aware of the applicable legislation and if a permission is required.
When you are ready to pursue acquiring one as a pet and have done your research, use the advice below to make sure you do it properly.
But first, let’s look at a time when they were well-liked household pets.
Considerations for Getting a Pet Squirrel
Is it OK to own squirrels as pets? Squirrels cannot be kept as household pets in several states. Ask a veterinarian about the regulations in your community and state before adopting. Before attempting to care for a squirrel on your own, identify a wildlife refuge center to take it if you discover one in your yard.
Care for a squirrel requires preparation. Squirrels are wild, untamed creatures. If you do end up taking care of a wild squirrel or want to adopt one as a pet, keep in mind that they need particular attention.
First, have a veterinarian examine your squirrel. Adopting a squirrel requires a lifetime commitment. Squirrels lose their innate ability to live in the wild once they are domesticated.
making your home squirrel-proof. Squirrels like hiding, playing, and climbing. You could think about allowing your squirrel to come and go from your house because they are wild creatures. You should do the following to make sure your home and backyard are secure for your new pet:
Any tiny items that your squirrel could knock over or destroy while climbing should be put away.
Appliances that your squirrel can climb into to hide in are put away and minor holes are covered.
Secure chemicals and other potentially harmful items, such as prepared foods that your squirrel could consume.
Pets should be kept apart from your squirrel until they are used to the new surroundings.
When other pets are around, keep an eye on your squirrel and never let them both alone.
Early American Pets
Things were fairly wild in early America, including the inhabitants. They engaged in some bizarre behavior, such as keeping badgers and buffalo as pets.
At this period, squirrels were frequently kept as pets. You could go out and buy a squirrel around the middle of the eighteenth century, and squirrels are even seen in several family photographs from this time period. Benjamin Franklin once wrote a eulogy for his friend’s deceased pet squirrel, Mungo.
People quickly came to the conclusion that squirrels are terrible pets. Fortunately, we now know what those early explorers didn’t, and we’ll talk about it in the part after this.
Legality of Pet Squirrels
One of the most often seen animals in the wild in North America, squirrels are swift, fascinating tiny rodents. Other rodents like rats and mice can’t resist them because of their bouncing, bushy tails. If they come across orphaned wild squirrels that require care, some people may question if squirrels may be kept as pets.
Squirrels and Related Rodents
Squirrels are classified as rodents since they belong to the scientific order Rodentia. Some rats are kept as pets by people. For instance, ordinary home pets like mice, rats, guinea pigs, and hamsters may be wonderful first pets for children. This suggests that squirrels could be suitable as pets as well.
But consider the alternative. Pests also include rodents. They invade your home, leave droppings all over, consume your food, get inside your car and fill it with cacti, chew through cables, and more. Rats, mice, and other rodents are often not the kind of animals you want to welcome into your home. Keeping a pet squirrel is therefore not the greatest choice.
Making the distinction between domesticated and wild animals is crucial. The damage that rodents do to your house and car is insane. The guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, and rats we described are domesticated rodents that were born in captivity, in contrast to rodents maintained as pets.
Have you ever seen a squirrel at your neighborhood pet shop while looking at the various animals that may be kept as pets? Obviously not. However, have you ever questioned why that is?
Wild animals include squirrels. Since no tamed squirrels exist, they cannot be bought from a pet shop. Squirrels don’t make good pets because, as wild creatures, they lack the traits that characterize domestic pets.
A Little Bit of History on Squirrels as Pets
Benjamin Franklin owned a well-known pet squirrel by the name of Mungo in 1722. He was killed by a dog’s jaws after meeting his end. This story may be found here.
Many different wild animals were once treated as pets by Americans. The most common pet in the 18th and 19th centuries was a squirrel.
They were commonplace in American homes and were wonderful family pets, particularly for young children.
They were widely used by the 1700s and were found in affluent urban households as well as being sold in markets. Some had received adequate training to walk on a leash.
However, the gray squirrel was the one that was most frequently kept as a pet. Many states began passing legislation governing the protection of wildlife and exotic pets in the 1970s, making it illegal for humans to keep these animals as pets.
Today, experts and enthusiasts claim that due to their nutrition, pointy claws, and space requirements, they don’t make the best pets.
But if you check online, whether on YouTube or elsewhere, you’ll see that more and more people are saving them and keeping them as pets.
The Morality of Keeping Wild Animals as Pets
We employ cages as punishment for heinous acts because, to humans, being imprisoned for the rest of your life is one of the worst things that might happen to you.
How different do you suppose it feels for a wild animal to be pulled out of the unending wilderness where they have spent their entire existence just to be placed in a little cage? It’s a fate that you would be putting on any squirrel you tried to keep as a pet; it’s pretty comparable to that.
It is wrong to keep a wild animal as a pet. If you wouldn’t want your freedom restricted, you shouldn’t want to restrict another animal’s freedom either.
The situation is different for animals who are born in captivity. For thousands of years, domesticated animals like dogs, cats, and horses have developed alongside humans.
They’ve grown to depend on us as their suppliers and have acquired certain traits that make them excellent human analogues. Wild animals, meanwhile, are completely independent since they haven’t developed those same instincts.
Squirrels are clever, but because they are wild creatures, it is thought that they are difficult to educate.
potty training If your squirrel is a baby, you will need to take care of it constantly, including encouraging it to go potty. Several times each day, gently rub your squirrel’s bottom in a circular manner with a damp cotton ball. Your squirrel will start to make pee and feces on its own by the time it is five to six weeks old.
Then you may start training your squirrel to use the litter box. Offer a safe pellet litter that won’t hurt if consumed. By dumping their waste there, your squirrel will be enticed to use the litter box since they will smell it and link it with going potty.
Training in general for your squirrel Although squirrels are challenging to teach, you may develop habits over time by rewarding particular behavior. Establish a schedule for your interactions with your squirrel. When your squirrel does anything right, reward it with praise and snacks.
Since many of your squirrel’s undesirable habits are reflexes, they won’t comprehend why they are being punished when they do something “wrong.” Instead, transfer them to a location with fewer distractions or take away any items you wish them to leave alone.
8 Types of Squirrels Everyone with a Backyard Should Know
Undoubtedly, a squirrel is a squirrel. Think again. In the US, there are over 65 different species of squirrel. The number of ground squirrel species is 24, the number of chipmunk species is 22, there are two kinds of flying squirrels, marmots, prairie dogs, and of course, tree squirrels.
Chances are, if you live in America and have a backyard, you have squirrels. They may dig tunnels close to your foundation, raid your bird feeder, or build nests in your attic, but they can provide hours of amusement with their exuberant activities. The eight different species of squirrels that may be found across North America are listed here.
This everyday sight is well known to everybody. In all the states that make up the contiguous United States, grey squirrels are a frequent visitor to nature preserves. Grey squirrels are mostly adopted from the wild by their owners, however a small number of breeders do exist.
They may be difficult to care for, and several governments forbid capturing them from the wild in order to keep them as pets. Although any animal with teeth has the potential to bite, grey squirrels are known to do so at least sometimes.
They have sharp claws as well, so they are not pets for anyone who won’t accept some injury. Additionally, they will only form a strong attachment with one individual and cannot be controlled by anybody else. For most people, they make lousy pets. The native fox squirrel, the biggest species of tree squirrel in North America, is the same.
Eastern Fox Squirrel
The second (and bigger) common tree squirrel in North America, in addition to gray squirrels, is the eastern fox squirrel.
It is one of four varieties of squirrels in Indiana, one of three types in Florida, and it inhabits a large range extending from southern Canada to northern Mexico. On top, it has gray and black hair; on the belly, orange; and on the tail, cinnamon with black. This huge species weights at least 1.5 pounds and is 19 to 29 inches long.
Fox squirrels have a remarkable capacity for adaptation and prefer to live in upland hardwood forests with nut-producing trees. They also enjoy eating agricultural products like pecans and maize.
Few people are aware that this species of tiny rodents is related to the squirrel. Currently, it is getting harder to locate chipmunks in the United States, but Siberian non-native chipmunks, which resemble the ones in our backyards, are the most accessible and more likely to be legal since they are exotic.
Although chipmunks’ modest size makes their enclosure requirements more acceptable, many owners still choose to keep them in sizable aviaries. Unlike grey squirrels, chipmunks are not keen climbers, but they can still benefit from a cage with ledges and places to climb. Chipmunks may converse and show affection to their owners.
American Red Squirrel
The American red squirrel, sometimes known as the pine squirrel, resembles fox squirrels in appearance. Its belly is white, while its upper portions have a deep chestnut or rusty reddish gray hue. It has a distinct white eye ring around its eyes, and its bushy tail has a hint of white on it.
A black stripe can also be seen on the sides of certain red squirrels. But the American red squirrel, which is just 10 to 15 inches long and weighs approximately a half pound, is considerably smaller than the fox squirrel.
There are four different species of squirrels in Michigan, with this one being the more northern one. It may be found in mixed and coniferous forests in the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachians, and as far south as northern Georgia in the northern and western United States and Canada.
Although red squirrels prefer to eat the seeds and cones of evergreen trees, they can become more omnivorous like other squirrels do.
Not many people keep rock squirrels as pets, but some do. They are indigenous to portions of Mexico and the American Southwest.
They resemble prairie dogs and are one of the biggest kinds of squirrel. They are gregarious rodents that build communal burrows and mostly consume plants, just like prairie dogs. This animal will have significant social requirements in captivity because it lives in colonies.
Southern Flying Squirrel
In two respects, flying squirrels are unusual. In the first place, they “fly.” Instead, they extend their front and back legs to tighten the slack skin fold that connects the extremities, allowing them to glide from branch to branch or from the top of a tree to the ground.
Also, they are nocturnal, in contrast to other squirrels. At 7 to 10 inches long, the southern flying squirrel is comparable in size to a chipmunk. On top, it has thick, silky grayish brown fur, while on its belly, it has white fur. It makes a great rudder thanks to its extra-large eyes and long, flat tail.
These squirrels are more docile as pets than grey squirrels and are really attractive. Unfortunately, they are difficult to locate these days, and if you do find one, it will cost you about $1,000.
They still have very sharp claws, much as other tree squirrels, and they like climbing up their owners. This may be a really unpleasant situation. The biggest cage you can provide is the ideal place to keep tree squirrels.
Although they can be maintained in smaller, a few feet tall cages, doing so will make daily life with them more challenging since they will need to be let out frequently and when they do, they can screech with an incredibly piercing, high-pitched sound. The ideal option is a walk-in enclosure.
The Douglas squirrel, sometimes known as the chickaree or pine squirrel, is related to the American red squirrel, and in the northern Pacific Northwest, their ranges overlap.
The Douglas squirrel may be easily distinguished from other species despite having almost the same size because to its dark-brownish/gray top parts and red belly. Its native territory extends from southern British Columbia to western Oregon, western Washington, and northern California.