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Is It Legal To Have A Pet Squirrel?

legal pet squirrel
Here you will find the definitive answer to your question: “Is it legal to have a pet squirrel?” Squirrels as pets is a huge debate. Some argue that you shouldn’t even feed them, let alone try to domesticate them. 

That’s why here’s a compiled list of everything you need to know about keeping a squirrel as a pet.

Pet Squirrel Laws in the United States

It is illegal in most states in the U.S. to keep a pet squirrel. However, some states will allow you to adopt or rehabilitate one. 

Before deciding to raise one as a domesticated pet, you should verify your state’s specific laws. These laws do not prohibit people from feeding them or approaching them close enough to pet them. 

To keep a squirrel legally, you’ll need to apply for a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services if you choose to keep a wild animal as a pet.

Make sure your state’s regulations and rules permit you to have a squirrel. Owning wild animals as pets is against the law in some areas, and the penalties include fines or imprisonment. 

Check with your county before you decide to adopt your new pet.

The following states have few or no restrictions for adopting a wild squirrel:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • West Virginia

Is It Legal to Rehabilitate a Squirrel in the U.S.? 

Often, an orphaned squirrel is not truly orphaned. Baby squirrels get into a lot of trouble when storms knock them out of trees. 

Handle a baby squirrel only if it is traumatized and you have no other option.

Always check with your state’s wildlife agency or any listed local rehabilitators in your area. It’s a legal issue, and most states won’t let people rehab squirrels on their own.

The majority of rehabilitators (NWRA) centers require a college degree in ecology or biology. 

Find a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center in your area by searching the Internet. You can also contact your county’s animal control office, a local veterinarian, a humane society, or an animal protection organization. 


This website is a great place to start if you have questions about squirrel adoption. You can also try calling 320-230-9920 to find an NWRA member in your area.

Is It Legal To Have A Pet Squirrel in Canada?

You certainly can. You can also have pet foxes, wolves, bears, hawks, and other animals. Raccoons and squirrels are common in cities and have adapted to human life, but that doesn’t mean they’re friendly. Squirrels will most likely flee, but raccoons are not as quick and will fight if cornered.

Squirrels are protected under wildlife conservation and exotic pet legislation. Today, many states make it illegal to keep a squirrel as a pet. 

According to animal experts, this is a good thing because squirrels are wild animals that, despite their cuteness, should be left alone.

Can You Own A Squirrel in Australia?

Hand-reared squirrels are being sold in Sydney pet shops for more than $1200 as the next big thing in niche pets. They are also regarded as an “extreme threat” to Australia by the federal government. 

Squirrels may be kept as pets in New South Wales if they are desexed and microchipped.

The Non-Indigenous Animals Act classifies squirrels as having “high pest potential.” Northern palm squirrels are listed as an “extreme threat” by the National Vertebrate Pests Committee.

In Queensland, the Biosecurity Act 2014, prescribes animal species as prohibited or restricted invasive animals or invasive or noxious fish. It is illegal to keep most declared mammal species as pets in Queensland. Restrictions are preventing the keeping of most of these species as pets.

A sample of these prohibited mammals include:

  • foxes
  • squirrels
  • ferrets/polecats/stoats 
  • rabbits
  • hamsters
  • monkeys/marmosets
  • gerbils
  • Weasels
  • dingoes

Should You Get a Pet Squirrel? 

It should be fine if you have experience rehabilitating baby animals, and it is legal to have an exotic pet where you live. However, keep in mind that squirrels are wild animals. 

Rehabilitating a squirrel usually results in releasing it back into the wild. You won’t be able to release squirrels back into the wild if you handle them too much, hand feed them, and let the squirrel play with your pets—which means that you will be sharing your home with a wild animal. To paraphrase: You may be able to train a squirrel to behave like a domestic animal, but that animal will never be domesticated. Instead, it will just be a tame, wild animal. 

A Piece of Advice

Several individuals who desire to adopt a baby squirrel believe they will make an excellent pet. In captivity, squirrels can live up to 20 years. 

Adopting a squirrel is possible, but it’s not for everyone. You might want to consider placing a feeder in your yard and watching them come to eat.

Click here to read more about other quirky bylaws! 

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