Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Arkansas?


Do you live in Arkansas and have wondered whether it’s legal to own a pet squirrel? You will be happy to know that the state allows residents to have pet squirrels. However, there are limitations and requirements that you must be aware of before bringing home that new furry friend!

Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel?

In Arkansas, it is legal to own a pet squirrel. Whether you captured that squirrel from the wild or it was born in captivity. In both cases, squirrel lovers may keep a maximum of six squirrels at one time. If they have no other wildlife as pets. 

The state limits you to a total of six individuals regardless of species. For example, if you have a rabbit and a raccoon, you may only have a maximum of four squirrels, bringing your total wildlife pets to six.

Once caught in the wild, wild squirrels that live as pets cannot be transferred to a new owner or released back into the wild. However, these squirrels may be returned to a licensed rehabilitator who can assess whether the animal is fit for release into the wild.   

State law also mandates that you may only take your captured wildlife with you if you plan to move out of the state if you obtain a permit from the Chief of Wildlife Management. 

You must also be moving to a state where keeping the wildlife species as a pet is legal.

I’ve put together a list of states that allow squirrel pets. That said, laws are constantly changing, so you want to do your due diligence before getting one.

Keeping A Pet Squirrel In Arkansas

The state also requires that any wildlife species kept as a pet must have a safe enclosure that keeps the animal safe and prevents escape. Males and females of the same species may not live together unless they have been sterilized.

Arkansas also has specific regulations that forbid owners from housing captive-born and bred squirrels with squirrels captured in the wild.

Residents must acquire all captive-bred squirrels from Arkansas Commission-permitted wildlife breeders or dealers. The permitted breeders/dealers must register the sale with the commission so that it is traceable. 

Squirrel owners may also bring captive squirrels legally purchased out of state into the state on a Commission Wildlife Importation Permit.

Do You Need A Permit to Own a Pet Squirrel?

Whether or not you need a permit to own a pet squirrel depends on multiple factors.

You do need a permit if you intend on breeding/dealing captive squirrels in Arkansas. 

You also need a permit to bring a legally obtained squirrel into the state from another state.

You do not need a permit if you plan to own six squirrels or fewer if you do not intend to breed them or sell them.

What Types of Squirrels are In Arkansas?

Arkansas has both tree squirrels and ground squirrels. 

There are four species of ground squirrel found in Arkansas – Thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Franklin’s ground squirrel, woodchuck, Eastern chipmunk.

There are three species of tree squirrel found in Arkansas – Southern flying squirrel, Eastern gray squirrel, Eastern fox squirrel.

How to Get A Pet Squirrel In Arkansas

It is considerably easier to obtain a pet squirrel in Arkansas than in most other states. 

Residents interested in capturing wild squirrels can take as many as six permitted species from the wild to keep as pets. These permitted species include squirrels, bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, red foxes, opossums, rabbits, raccoons, or deer raised by hand before July 1, 2012. 

Arkansas also permits species that are not hunted or trapped in the state to be kept as pets except for birds, ornate box turtles, bats, alligator snapping turtles, hellbenders, endangered animals, or cave-dwelling creatures.

Residents interested in purchasing a squirrel raised in captivity may purchase their squirrel from a licensed dealer/breeder. Residents must register the sale, and you should retain all paperwork to prove that your squirrel was legally purchased. In case you should need to cross state lines.

Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In Arkansas?

Yes. As mentioned previously, Arkansas residents can purchase a pet squirrel from a licensed breeder/dealer within the state. 

If you purchase a squirrel from another state, you must obtain a Wildlife Importation Permit to bring it into Arkansas. You must also be able to prove legal ownership of your squirrel and that you purchased from a legal breeder.

The Easiest Way to Get a Pet Squirrel in Arkansas

It may seem easy enough to get a pet squirrel in Arkansas by trapping a wild squirrel, but this is not the case. The easiest way to get a pet squirrel is to purchase one from a breeder of captive squirrels in Arkansas.

Why is it Easiest to Buy a Pet Squirrel in Arkansas?

When you purchase a pet squirrel from a licensed breeder/dealer in the state, the breeder must register the sale with the state. The breeder will also give you a certificate of sale. 

These two elements provide you with proof of legal ownership and confirm that you obtained your squirrel properly.

There is, of course, another glaringly obvious reason why it is easiest to purchase a pet squirrel rather than capturing one in the wild – disease. 

Wild squirrel populations can carry numerous diseases or fleas that transmit these diseases. Among these diseases are the plague, typhus, ringworm, and tularemia. These are not only diseases that can affect humans, but they can also be fatal if left untreated!

Purchasing a captive-bred squirrel ensures that your squirrel is healthy and from healthy parents – a much safer solution for everyone involved!

It is also worth noting that while some people claim that a captive-bred squirrel is a better choice because captive squirrels are calmer and better behaved. This claim is not necessarily true. 

Squirrels are wild animals, and despite captive breeding, they still harbor wild instincts that breeders cannot completely eliminate with a few generations of captive breeding. Your captive-bred squirrel may be slightly less “wild,” but don’t expect a “well-behaved” squirrel that is as easy to train as a domestic dog!

Final Word

At the time of this writing, it is legal to own a pet squirrel in Arkansas. Arkansas has some of the most lenient laws when it comes to owning exotic animals. 

That said, you need to do your due diligence before getting a pet squirrel. It’s not as easy as owning a dog. 

References

https://uam-web2.uamont.edu/facultyweb/huntj/mammal%20list.htm

https://www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/captive-wildlife/wildlife-pets/

https://www.thesprucepets.com/exotic-pet-laws-1238565

https://apps.agfc.com/regulations/09.14/

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