Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Iowa? [What to Know]

can you have a pet squirrel in Iowa

If you’re like most people, when you think of Iowa, the first thing that comes to mind is cornfields. But what you may not know is that Iowa is also home to some wildlife, including squirrels! But if you’ve ever wondered “can you have a pet squirrel in Iowa” there’s a lot you should know.

Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Iowa?

Anyone who obtained a wild animal permit in 2007 is allowed to possess a wild animal. At the time of this writing, Statute 717F.4 considers non-domesticated animals such as squirrels illegal to own as pets. It is against the law to import squirrels, rope squirrels, striped mice, as well as other animals. Residents are required to abide by the laws that are set in place by the state.

Iowa like other states considers it illegal to own a pet squirrel. That said, the state offers rehabilitation licenses and permits, for anyone wanting to care for a squirrel.

However, there are several things rules and regulations to be aware of if you’re thinking of adding a furry friend to your family. We’ve done some due diligence for you, but you’ll want to check the laws before getting one as they may have changed by the time you read this article.

Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel In Iowa?

Yes, it is illegal to own a squirrel as a pet. Unless you’ve applied and been granted a rehabilitation license to care for a squirrel, you can be charged with criminal charges. If caught, you may have to pay some hefty fines.

Housing and Care

While the laws are vague to squirrel ownership, Iowa’s laws on exotic and dangerous animals are pretty clear regarding housing and care. According to the Iowa Code 717F; 21 Iowa Admin Code 77 Dangerous Wild Animals Law, pet owners are responsible for maintaining up to date health and ownership records.

In addition, a sign that stating “a dangerous animal lives here” must be placed on the residence. Also, they must maintain a $100,000 insurance liability with no more than a $250 deductible must be maintained at all times. This is in case the animal escapes and injures a person or other animal.

Anyone possessing a wild animal and lets it escape is in violation of Chapter 717F and will face criminal charges and up to no more than two thousand dollar fines for each dangerous animal in violation.

While squirrels are not mentioned on the wild animals list, they are not your typical domesticated animals, so you’ll want to know whether they are included.

If you own a squirrel, ensure it has a cage with sufficient room to move around in without feeling trapped. That said, Iowa allows pet squirrels and other mid-sized mammals such as; woodchucks, raccoons, etc to be kept in plastic pet carriers, fiberglass or stainless steel veterinary cages.

However, the habitat requirements owners that possess tree squirrels must use a ½” (1cm) wire mess or smaller, to prevent escape. The roofing can be constructed of wood slats tied down with heavy staples. You can also include branches for gnawing, to help curb tooth growth, as squirrels have sharp incisors.

Owners must allow plenty of space for squirrels to jump and climb, like they would out in the wild. Den or nest boxes should be included to provide the rodent a place to sleep and hide.

Do You Need A Permit to Own A Pet Squirrel In Iowa?

Unfortunately, the laws are vague and hard to understand, so you’ll want to contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, as we couldn’t find a lot of information regarding permits and fees for tree squirrels.

That said, Iowa has a new law the “New World Monkey” classifying the Cebidae family, which includes squirrel monkeys. This law states anyone possessing a squirrel monkey, must pay a $50 fee to possess one.

Is It Hard to Get A Permit?

They state only offers Wildlife Rehabilitation Permits, that allows individuals to rehabilitate a squirrel. There is an application fee of $5.00 for one year, $10.00 for two years and $15.00 for three years.

In order to apply for a rehabilitation license, the applicant must obtain a support letter from a sponsoring licensed wildlife rehabilitator. In addition, you must provide detailed information on prior experience of providing animal care.

However anyone rehabilitating a squirrel, is required to release it back into the wild once it is able to survive on its own.

It’s extremely easy to mistake a gray squirrel for a black, because of the color of their fur. If you look closely, it almost looks black.

The red squirrel can also be found in widespread places throughout Iowa. They are smaller than a gray squirrel, but larger than a chipmunk. Unlike a gray squirrel, a red squirrel’s diet consists of mostly seeds, therefore they predominately live in coniferous forests.

However, like all other squirrel species, they can be found in parks, backyards, and bustling neighborhoods.

The Fox squirrels are the largest of the tree squirrels found in Iowa. They have the ability to adapt to different habitants, but are drawn to deciduous forests where their diet consists of hickory nuts, acorns, and walnuts.

A fox squirrel can jump up to 15 feet high, so don’t be surprised if you see one on your birdfeeder.

What Types of Squirrels Are In The Area?

The most common squirrels found in Iowa are tree squirrels which consist of the Fox squirrel and Eastern Gray squirrel. Gray squirrels are native to Iowa and are commonly found in large, dense deciduous forests that consist of large oak and hickory trees.

That said, they have become accustomed to being around humans and can be found living in the parks, farms, suburban and urban neighborhoods.

How to Get A Pet Squirrel In Iowa?

Unfortunately, it is illegal to obtain a pet squirrel in Iowa. However, there are some people who will still try to obtain one. That said, it’s important to understand it is against the law and you could face charges and huge fines for owning a squirrel illegally.

Other Wildlife You Can Keep As A Pet

The following animals fall under the Dangerous Wild Animals Law, according to Iowa Code 717F.

  • Hybrids
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Bears
  • Canines (except wolf dogs)
  • Elephants
  • Wild boars
  • Rhinoceros
  • Felines (except Savannas F4 or later and Bengals)
  • Aardwolves

Anyone who had an animal registered by 12/31/07 and microchipped by 9/01/07 are grandfathered into the old laws.

Can You Bring A Pet Squirrel If You Are Moving to Iowa?

Chances are you will not be allowed to relocate to Iowa if you plan on bringing a pet squirrel. Iowa’s laws clearly state it is illegal to keep one as a pet and you may be required to surrender it.

That said, exceptions if the squirrel has been domesticated and can no longer survive in the wild. You will need to contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to find out what the procedure is for new residents.

Final Word

Unfortunately Iowa doesn’t allow its residents to keep squirrels as pets. However, if you are moving to the state and have a pet squirrel, there may be an exception.

If you are caught with a pet squirrel, you could face charges and hefty fines. It’s important to understand the laws before trying to obtain a pet squirrel.

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