If you have always wanted a pet squirrel, the state you live in ultimately determines whether you can own one. Unfortunately, while some states do allow residents to have pet squirrels, Arizona is not one of them. In fact, Arizonans are explicitly forbidden from owning squirrels as pets.
Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel?
No. According to the Game and Fish Commission, no live wildlife can be held in captivity or physically restrained, impaired, or confined. In addition, Arizona considers all members of the family Sciuridae restricted live wildlife. The Sciuridae family includes squirrels, prairie dogs, marmots, chipmunks, marmots, and woodchucks.
Do You Need A Permit to Own a Pet Squirrel?
No. Since it is illegal to own a pet squirrel in Arizona no permit allows for captive pet ownership.
Under Arizona Title 17 statute R12-4-406, there are some circumstances where someone might have a squirrel in their possession, however. This possession is only legal when the person has the correct permits and licenses.
Arizona requires anyone who owns, sells, trades, or releases a squirrel that is imported or transported into the state to have authorization from the Arizona Wildlife Commission. This authorization includes all federal permits and licenses and the special license required by Ariz. Admin. Code § 12-4-409 (A).
Special licenses under Ariz. Admin. Code § 12-4-409 (A) include –
- A live bait dealer’s license.
- A Wildlife rehabilitation license.
- A Private game farm license.
- A Wildlife service license.
- A Scientific collecting license.
- A Wildlife holding license.
- A Zoo license.
In other states, a “Wildlife Holding License” qualifies someone to have a pet squirrel.
The “Wildlife Holding License” allows someone to possess restrictive wild wildlife for educational purposes or commercial purposes in Arizona.
In the absence of the necessary special license, a person may also qualify through a lawful exemption if –
- The animal is obtained from the wild under a valid Arizona hunting license.
- A licensed veterinarian has possession of the animal and is providing veterinary care.
- A person is only transporting the animal through the state, and transport takes less than 72 hours.
- The animal has legally possessed the animal in the state with a license before the current regulations on ownership went into effect.
- Someone is providing rehabilitative care to restricted wildlife that is debilitated, injured, or orphaned.
What Types of Squirrels are In the Area? (Grey, Fox, Flying?)
Arizona has both tree squirrels and ground squirrels.
There are four species of ground squirrel found in Arkansas – Round-tailed ground squirrels, the Harris Antelope squirrel, the rock squirrel, and the golden-mantled ground squirrel.
There are four species of tree squirrel found in Arizona – Arizona gray squirrel, red squirrel, fox squirrel, and Abert’s squirrel.
How to Get A Pet Squirrel In Arizona
Since it is illegal to own a pet squirrel in Arizona, there are no legal means of obtaining a pet squirrel. Anyone caught violating the laws can face fines and court costs that range in hundreds of dollars.
Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In Arizona?
No. Arizona law forbids ownership of pet squirrels. People caught importing or exporting wildlife can be charged with a felony.
Other Restricted Wildlife in Arizona
If you are contemplating a different type of wildlife as a pet since Arizona forbids you to own a pet squirrel in Arizona, you should know that the following species are also considered “restricted wildlife” –
- Coral snakes
- Clawed frogs
- Leopard frogs
- Jumping mice
- Water buffalo
- European hedgehogs
- American bison
- Sea snakes
- Golden moles
- Giant or marine toads
- Even-toed ungulates
- Mexican beaded lizards
- Desert turtles
- Red deer
- Pit and true vipers
- Snapping turtles
- Gopher turtles
- Brown tree snakes
- Bird snakes
- Pocket gopher
- Wild hares
- Prairie dogs
- Gila monsters
- American opossum
- Spider monkeys
- Burrowing asps
Interestingly, Arizona does permit residents to own the following exotic animals
- Long eared and pygmy hedgehogs
- Savannah cats
- Sugar gliders
- Domestic water buffalo
- African crested porcupines
- Domestic American bison
- Short-tailed possum
What If You Own a Pet Squirrel and Are Moving to Arizona?
If you already own a pet squirrel and are moving to Arizona, are you allowed to bring your pet squirrel with you?
Think of this situation if you owned a dog. Some areas enforce “banned breed” laws. If your dog is considered a “banned breed,” would an apartment complex allow you to move in with your dog simply because you have owned them before living there?
The same concept applies to restricted pet species. Arizona forbids the ownership of squirrels as pets. Period.
This does not necessarily mean that you cannot move to Arizona with your squirrel. However, it just means that you are going to have to jump through hoops. To legally own your squirrel in the state you must qualify for one of the legal licenses noted above under “Do You Need A Permit to Own a Pet Squirrel?”
You might consider becoming part of an educational program so that you can educate others about squirrels like your pet.
If you do not qualify for any of the licenses or permits that Arizona issues, we suggest rethinking your move!
If you have control over where you move, we suggest moving to one of the states where you can own a pet squirrel. These states include –
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
Be sure to check out the full list of states where it’s legal to own a pet squirrel.
*Note – some of these states do require you have a special license to own squirrels, but many states have no license requirement at all. ALL these states have regulatory statutes that require humane treatment and proper provision for all exotic and wildlife pets.
A Note About Arizona
Arizona has some of the harshest laws in the United States when it comes to wildlife ownership and exotic animal ownership. Many of these laws stem from the state’s proximity to the U.S. border, where people try to smuggle exotic animals daily.