Can Squirrels Be Pets?

Squirrels may live in your backyard or neighborhood. They are fun to watch scamper around, and you may consider that they would make cute pets. As a general rule, squirrels arent domesticated and arent good animals to keep as pets. But, if you are considering a pet squirrel, there are some things you need to know first.

Secure chemicals and other dangerous substances, including processed snacks your squirrel may get into. Traditional cages, including those for rabbits and chickens, dont always work because squirrels are able to squeeze through small holes.

A mesh wire is optimal for keeping your squirrel safe while still allowing them the freedom to climb around. The cage should be a minimum of two feet across on all sides to be big enough for your squirrel to move around and taller than it is deep. Pinecones Seeds Mushrooms Flowers and buds Berries Acorns Walnuts Pecans

Use a wet cotton ball to gently massage your squirrels bottom in a circular motion several times a day. While squirrels are difficult to train, you can build habits over time by encouraging certain behavior.

Are squirrels good house pets?

Squirrels may live in your backyard or neighborhood. They are fun to watch scamper around, and you may consider that they would make cute pets. As a general rule, squirrels aren’t domesticated and aren’t good animals to keep as pets.

Can squirrels be tamed?

Yes. If you’re really dedicated, taming squirrels is fairly simple. Having patience and letting them get used to requires a lot of waiting around, but once they do they’ll be happy to approach. … Some people will even willingly allow squirrels into their home once they’re tame.

Can squirrels be friendly to humans?

They Are Friendly Little Guys. Very few wild animals are trusting enough to approach humans. Squirrels, however, are generally friendly creatures. Many are accustomed to living near humans — so much so that some will eat directly from people’s palms!

Four years ago, when Decan Andersen found a small, bloody fur ball outside of his house in Denmark, he had no idea his life was about to change. It was a four-week-old male Eurasian red squirrel with a huge gash on its chest that had fallen from the fourth floor of the building. And it was about to become his.

Usually they werent injured or so young, but on that day, he decided to do what he usually did when he saw animals: go back inside and come out in a few hours to check on them, at which point theyd often be gone. After sniffing and prodding the body, the mother seemed to decide he was a lost cause, and scampered off with her other children, leaving him to die.

As an animal lover , Andersen knew he had to do something to save the life of the squirrel, whom he named Tintin . Andersen called a local veterinarian to get advice, and was told to cut old socks into T-shirts for Tintin and to protect the open wound. It took five months for Tintins wound to heal, but even though he was recovered, Andersen knew he couldnt release the squirrel back into the wild.

Fortunately, Andersen was able to procure special authorization from the local wildlife preservation branch to keep the squirrel, given his domesticated status. Guests are difficult to have over, as squirrels can become easily stressed and territorial, and Andersen cant leave Tintin alone for more than a few hours. In fact, if Tintin hadnt literally fallen into Andersons lap that fateful day in 2013, he probably would never have owned such an exotic pet.

He makes sure to communicate this to Tintins legion of online fans, many of whom have fallen victim to wanting a squirrel after seeing his photos. Anderson created a website for Tintin, and right smack-dab-in-the-middle of the homepage he wrote, Squirrels are NOT good pets. Although he doesnt follow those accounts, Anderson has noticed an uptick in squirrel profiles on social media.

On a recent weekday, while Tintin took an afternoon nap, OK Whatever spoke with Andersen about the pros and cons of keeping a squirrel as a pet. Often squirrels want to grab the food and rip it out of your fingers, but Ive taught him not to do that and he knows he has to sit nice and come up and give me a hug, and then he can have his treat. Tintin caught the gray squirrel pox once, and he was admitted to an animal hospital in the capital and was there for three days.

Tintin is good with guests, but Ive seen other squirrels even start attacking people because they’re not used to new humans in their territory. Famous for knowing American Sign Language and understanding English, the legendary gorilla was also pretty obsessed with areolas.

Cute, isn’t he? However, according to Coast & Canyon Wildlife Rehabilitation in Los Angeles, when infant ground squirrels feel threatened, they get into this defensive position. Look at this infant’s nails. When this guy grows up, those nails will be tantamount to weapons as well as tools for the curious and energetic rodent.

Photo courtesy of Coast & Canyon Wildlife Rehabilitation Squirrels and other wild animals make lousy pets for numerous reasons.

Some folks want to find a way around all this license nonsense, and while its hard to hide a deer, cute fluffy squirrels can fit in a cage. Wildlife rehabilitator and veterinarian Terri Sutherland (not her real name because she gets too many rehabilitation requests) cares for two diseased male squirrels who are unable to care for themselves; releasing them would be a death sentence. Terri shares her personal top 10 reasons not to have a squirrel as a pet, entertaining as they are.

If you want to go away, you will need to find a house sitter with a lot of patience and a high pain tolerance. Even overnight outings require a house sitter. Those nails, which are designed to pierce bark and allow them to climb trees, completely rake skin.

The boys can merely walk across her and leave wounds. They do not possess the bite inhibition reflex of domestic pets. If the first thing that crosses their brain is to bite, there is no counter message to say that is a bad plan.

They also do not possess the chew inhibition reflex of domestic pets. If you do not provide adequate chewing material to wear these teeth down, the squirrel is in for a serious illness. Squirrels require a balanced and natural diet that is time consuming, expensive, and difficult to provide.

Hours are spent gathering food from the outdoors, cooking high-calcium diets, purchasing and preparing insects (big yuck factor for some mammal lovers). Much money must be spent on supplements and filling in the gaps. They will beg, borrow, and plead for junk food, or if those plans fail they will just take it.

People shouldnt let their children eat Twinkies for dinner, and squirrels are no different. It is much like owning five young Labrador retrievers in a one-bedroom apartment. Squirrels like to keep their living areas clean and throw anything dirty onto the floor.

This includes partially eaten bits of food, unliked food, wilted fruits and vegetables, nut shells, uneaten or partially eaten insects, and you guessed it OTHER wastes. Terri starts cleaning with a shop vac and says there are always insects crawling along the debris. If your inquiring mind wants to know, squirrels will hang on the side of their cages and aim the poop and pee onto the floor.

Squirrels only want their own area to be neat and clean. The biggest reason not to own a squirrel is that they are wild animals, and if we truly love them, they deserve to be free. Terri lives with two squirrels named Oly and Quinn.

Oly was found in the middle of a busy highway, where he was apparently dropped by his mother while crossing the road. Oly is a territorial male squirrel who thinks Terri is his mate and, with all the testosterone he can muster, Hates Her Husband With A Passion. Terri found Quinn near the end of a canoe race when she was portaging (carrying the canoe over land) and found the cold, dehydrated, and abandoned baby.

She knew the infant would be crushed by the people behind her and there was no nest around. Who else would throw lice and a cold poopy rodent down their shirt? That increases the amount of time it takes her to prepare their meals.

The two rodents shred her house and skin, mangle her carpeting, stink up the place, and hoard her schedule. Marcia Ryback of Coast & Canyon Wildlife , a certified wildlife rehabilitation organization in Los Angeles, has seen what happens when people try to keep squirrels as pets: they are not doing the squirrel any favors. Once a squirrel came in that had been kept in a small cage for two years and had not been well treated.

Photo courtesy of Coast & Canyon Wildlife Rehabilitation Marcia got a long pole net and went back outside. The squirrel came at her again and she was able to capture him, but it was a memorable experience for some scary reasons.

The squirrel chomped on her leg and started working his way up her body. “Luckily my long hair prevented him from getting to my head as he couldn’t hold on.” If you’re still thinking squirrels would make a fun pet, examine this photo of Marcia’s leg and emphasize to yourself that that’s the leg of someone who knows what she’s doing with squirrels.

What you dont know about caring for a wild species could do far more harm than good to an animal. If you find a wild creature in need of medical help, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator who will be knowledgeable about the wildlife and regulations in your area. If you love and respect wildlife, you know they deserve to remain wild.

Although we think it’s a bad idea to keep squirrels or other wild animals as pets, we know that some people need to feed the babies before it’s physically possible to get them to a wildlife rehabilitator, and that others will keep them as pets anyway. In the interest of keeping these babies as healthy as possible, we’ve asked the kind folks at the Wildlife Center of Virginia about the care and feeding of wee orphans. Formula As members of the rodent family, squirrels should be fed a specific animal milk replacement formula with the appropriate combined percentages of fat, protein, and carbohydrates found in squirrel milk.

For eyes closed squirrels (under 4-5 weeks), an appropriate formula is Day One Fox Valley 32/40 formula for squirrels, opossums and rabbits. For eyes open squirrels (over 4 weeks of age), use Fox Valley 20/50 formula. Human baby formula nor cows milk should never be used since the nutritional make-up is not appropriate for rodents.

Use clean containers each time you mix formula. Always test the formula temperature with a thermometer before feeding. Formula can easily overheat and burn the animal if you are not careful.

Refrigerate unused portions immediately following each feeding because the formula will spoil if it is left out. Hand-Feeding While feeding the young animals, wrap them in a warm towel and hold them on their stomachs with their heads up (never on their backs or upright). Using a 1-cc syringe, feed the animal very slowly and evenly so it does not inhale any formula.

The syringe should be held firmly in the hand using a hitchhiker hand position (thumb on the plunger and all fingers wrapped around the plunger shaft and syringe barrel). The caregiver must be in control of the syringe plunger at all times. The maximum comfortable stomach capacity of most mammals is 5% – 7% of body weight, except rabbits, which is 10% – 12.5% of body weight, and should not be exceeded during each feeding.

Young mammals will not readily drink milk that has gotten cool, and cold formula can cause bloat. Test the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist and with a thermometer each time you refill the syringe and before you place it in the animals mouth. If using a meat thermometer, the temperature will read slightly higher.

Avoid changing diets or formulas abruptly as this can cause problems. Follow the recommended feeding schedule for your animal’s species, age and weight. Weaning (5-8 weeks old) Weigh the animal and follow the feeding schedule for the appropriate size and age.

In addition, add a mush bowl by mixing a small amount of formula with baby cereal and several pieces of soaked puppy chow in a shallow dish. Be careful not to let the formula mush crust on their fur. If they become covered with the formula, clean the squirrels with a damp sponge or cloth, dry immediately with a cloth, being careful not to let them get chilled.

Offer this dish of formula throughout the day and remove after the last hand feeding. Monitor animals carefully for signs of fur loss. Sneezing, clicking or other abnormal respiratory sounds can indicate formula aspiration.

Between formula feedings begin to offer the squirrel small amounts of soaked puppy chow, dry puppy chow, paw-sized chunks of apple, sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, corn on the cob (1″ slice), a couple of nuts without shells, etc. If diarrhea occurs, immediately discontinue the new food. Young mammals require a balanced and varied diet, which includes all essential vitamins and minerals, especially calcium.

Base diets should consist of: rodent biscuits and puppy chow for squirrels. Fruits, nuts, seeds, corn and grains are to be given in small amounts as treats only. NEVER USE beef organs, beef bones, chicken organs, hamburger, lunchmeats, hot dogs, iceberg lettuce, cow’s milk, onions, bread and honey.

Good calcium sources include: broccoli, cabbage, puppy/kitten chow, canned dog/cat food, appropriate milk replacer formulas, spinach, Timothy hay, hard boiled eggs, cooked chicken necks, green beans, carrots, mealworms, kale or mustard greens. If not corrected immediately, severe non-reversible symptoms may arise including bowed legs, fractures, rubber jaw, spinal deformity, and hind leg paralysis, leading to the animals ultimate death. Proper nutrition is essential to the healthy survival of an animal.

Try to offer foods that the squirrel may find in the wild such as acorns or maple tree twigs and buds. You may need to supplement with hand feeding one or more times daily if they are slow to wean. Weigh each animal every 2-3 days to make sure that they are getting enough to eat.

When animals are learning to eat solid foods it is difficult to tell if their nutritional needs are being met and weighing is a good guide. A small weight loss is acceptable during weaning as long as a downward trend is not noticed. Once the teeth are well formed, add two to three native nuts per day.

Too many seeds and nuts could lead to hypocalcemia (inadequate amount of calcium in diet), resulting in serious health problems and even death for the squirrel. You can help the squirrel crack its nuts when it is 5-7 weeks old. Lori, adopt a mom for Fred and GingerMay 23, 2020

Sigrid Warren, licensed wildlife rehabilitatorFebruary 5, 2018 VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email news@vin.com .

Information and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the author and are independent of the VIN News Service.

With a cute face and a furry tail, squirrels are very interesting and amusing to many people. At the same time, they can make quite a mess when they nest, and youll find a lot of damage and feces in that area as well. Squirrel removal is something that wildlife services do a lot of, using humane ways and all the while keeping an eye on aggressive mothers with babies. Yes, squirrels can be pretty aggressive, especially when it comes to their babies. That being said, they arent really good to keep as pets; youll find them challenging to look after and youll find holes in weird places around your house all the time. Not fully convinced yet? Here are some reasons why you should seriously reconsider keeping a squirrel as a pet.