Can You Adopt a Squirrel? (Rehab, License and More)


It is an undeniable fact that squirrels are adorable. Watching them scurry around the trees in your yard is enough to make you want one as a pet. Of course, you’re wondering if it’s possible to adopt a squirrel. 

Can You Adopt a Squirrel? Yes, but there are legal issues associated with adopting one, as squirrels are considered wildlife. Some states will allow you to adopt one, if you have a rehabilitation license.

If you find an orphaned squirrel, you’ll want to call your states wildlife agency, to get advice on what to do.

This article covers the three main ways you can adopt a squirrel and the benefits of each one. We’ll also take a look at whether or not you should adopt one.

But first, let’s take a look at some of the most important things you should consider before adopting a squirrel.

Is It Legal to Adopt A Squirrel?

Check your state’s rules and regulations about owning a squirrel. It is illegal to own wild animals as pets in some areas and might result in fines or jail time. Contact your county for information before you get attached to your new pet.

The Following States Have Few or No Restrictions for Adopting a Squirrel:

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

Is It Legal to Rehab A Squirrel?

In many instances, an orphaned squirrel is not necessarily an orphaned squirrel. Baby squirrels get in a lot of trouble, because they are in trees and are knocked out by a storm.

Never handle a baby squirrel, unless it is traumatized and you have absolutely no choice.

Always check with your states wildlife agency or local rehabilitators that are listed in your area. It’s a legal issue and most states won’t allow people to rehab squirrels by themselves.

Most rehabilitators, (NWRA) centers require you to have a college degree in ecology or biology.

Now that you know the importance of checking with your local wildlife agency, let’s take a look at the steps you can take to adopt a squirrel.

How to Find A Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Search the Internet to locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center in your area. You can also contact your county animal control office, local veterinarian, humane society, or animal protection association.

This website is a great place to get started on getting answers to the questions you may have regarding squirrel adoption. You can also call 320-230-9920 to try to locate an NWRA member in your area.

How to Adopt a Squirrel – Steps to Take

can you adopt squirrels
Most people rehab a squirrel and end up keeping it.

1. Locate Breeders or Exotic Pet Dealers Near You

Flying squirrels are a little different than the ones in your backyard. But they are equally cute and very common to find through exotic pet breeders. Many sellers also breed black squirrels and gray squirrels if you have your heart set on one.

Squirrels raised through a breeder will be much easier to care for and manage. Purchasing through a professional will also ensure that you get all the information you need regarding your furry friend’s best care.

Find a breeder in your area that has a trusted reputation. You’ll want to make sure they take good care of the squirrels before you commit to purchasing one. The best breeders will make themselves available to you after the purchase if you have questions or concerns.

Good signs to look for:

  • Healthy weight
  • Fluffy fur coat
  • Clean nose and clear eyes
  • Alert and energetic

2. Sign Up for Squirrel Rehabilitation and Release Programs

Some states have programs that will allow you to mentor a squirrel. If you have a squirrel friendly yard, this may be perfect for you. They will set you up with an enclosure for your squirrels so that you can provide food for them until they’re ready to live in the wild again.

While some squirrels will return to the wild immediately, some mentors have squirrels that choose to make a permanent home in their yard. These programs are lovely if you would like to be closer to squirrel companions but aren’t ready for them to live inside your home. 

3. Virtual Squirrel Adoption

For most people, this is not what was imagined when the topic of squirrel adoption came up. However, it’s a considerate gesture to a philanthropic cause. 

Adopting a squirrel through a wildlife organization means that you are a part of the effort to preserve their habitat and rehabilitate squirrels in need. The squirrels you see looting your birdfeeder every day have many relatives that are protected by wildlife programs.

You won’t get to socialize with your squirrel buddy in person. Still, you will get an adoption credential, an adorable photo, and lots of other bonuses. Most virtual adoption programs will send you a fun gift as well!

Should You Adopt a Squirrel?

If you have experience rehabilitating baby animals, and it is legal to have an exotic pet where you live, then it should be fine. But, it’s important to remember that squirrels are wild animals.

Many people who rehab a squirrel will release them back into the wild. If you handle them too much, hand feed them, and allow her to play with your pets, you won’t be able to release them back into the wild.

Which means that you will have a wild animal living in your home. A squirrel will never be a domesticated animal, they will just be a tame, wild animal.

Final Word

Many people want to adopt a baby squirrel because they think they will make a great pet. Squirrels are a lot of responsibility, and in captivity, they can live up to 20 years.

Yes, you can adopt a squirrel, but it’s not necessarily the right thing for a lot of people. You may just want to consider putting out a feeder in your yard and admire them when they come to eat.

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