Gone are the days when people got a dog or cat as a house pet. Instead, people are looking for more unique and exciting pets to keep in their homes. This has created a whole new industry of people breeding, catching, and selling exotics animals as pets. One such animal that comes to mind is the squirrel. So, can you have a pet squirrel in Maine?
Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Maine?
The short answer is no. It is against the law to possess any wildlife without the proper state and federal permits. According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department, wild animals do not make good animals. In addition, they possess harmful diseases that easily spread to humans and other domestic animals.
If you’ve recently moved to the Pine Tree State or are thinking about it, and want to know what the law says about keeping a pet squirrel, here’s what you need to know regarding a squirrel or other wild animal as pets.
What Type of Animals Can You Have In Maine?
The state’s animal welfare laws regulate pets in Maine. These laws prohibit the ownership of certain animals, including all species of wild animals, as pets. The only exceptions are animals used for educational, commercial exhibitions, and attracting trade.
In these instances, the commissioner issues a permit or license.
You are required to complete an application and pay the required fee. The application must include:
- The name, address, and telephone number of the applicant.
- The name and address of the location where the animal will be kept.
- A description of the animal.
- The purpose for which the permit is being sought.
Is it Illegal to Have A Pet Squirrel in Maine?
Yes, it is illegal to own a pet squirrel or any other type of wild animal in Maine without a valid permit or license. Anyone caught violating the laws is subject to civil or criminal penalties. In addition, the captive animal may be confiscated, euthanized, or released back into the wild.
Therefore, it’s essential to renew your license or permit according to the state and local regulations to avoid any hassles. The state can suspend, revoke or deny a permit for any reason.
What if I Found An Orphaned or Injured Squirrel?
Maine is home to an abundance of wildlife that can be seen in backyards, roads, or while camping or hiking. It’s likely you’ll see an orphaned or injured squirrel at one point. According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), leave them alone if you encounter an orphaned or injured animal.
All wildlife has a better chance of surviving in the wild than when held in captivity. In addition, it is against the law to possess any type of wildlife without the proper state and federal permits.
Instead, place the squirrel or raccoon nest at the base of the tree to make it easier for the mother sees it when she returns. If the squirrel or animal is injured, contact the MDIFW or game warden to alert them about the animal.
How to Become A Wildlife Rehabilitator In Maine?
Many people who love animals want to help when they see an orphaned, injured, or displaced animal. The best way to do this is by becoming a wildlife rehabilitator.
To become a rehabilitator, you must possess Maine Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Permit. The minimum requirements include:
- Applicant must be 18 years of age.
- Must be able to pass a state examination on wildlife rehabilitation.
- Evidence of working with a licensed veterinarian.
- Must possess the ability to provide adequate housing for the species you intend on rehabilitating. The IWRC and NWRA set the housing requirements.
Most wildlife rehabilitators work on a volunteer basis. Meaning you are responsible for the cost of the animals’ care. The good news is that a number of organizations will help with the cost of food, housing, and medical care for the animals.
Some of these organizations include:
- Maine Audubon Society
- Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Center
- Project Puffin Seabird Sanctuary
What Types of Squirrels Exist in Maine?
Maine harbors five species of squirrels: Eastern Gray, Red squirrel, Eastern Fox squirrel, Southern Flying squirrel, and Delmarva fox squirrel.
Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus Carolinensis)
The Eastern Gray squirrel is a common sight in Maine with a gray fur coat and a large bushy tail. The color camouflages it within the woods, hiding it from predators. Some Eastern Gray squirrels are blonde, white, and black.
This species typically exists in open woodlands, especially hickory and oak forests.
Their diet includes walnuts, hickory nuts, acorns, beechnuts, maple buds and bark, tulip blossoms, seeds, grapes, apples, fungi, black cherry, and grasses. When their typical food sources are depleted, they will eat insects, bird eggs, and baby birds.
Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
The Red squirrel can be found in the Quoddy region (and all of Maine and New Hampshire). In addition, a subspecies of the red squirrel, known as Gymnicus, can be seen throughout the area. It is smaller and darker than the other 21 subspecies of red squirrels.
This squirrel has reddish-brown fur on its upper body, while the belly and undertail are white. There is often a grayish or whitish band along the sides. The Red squirrel’s tail is also red with white edges.
The Red squirrel feeds primarily on tree seeds, buds, fruits, nuts, and fungi. However, when their food is in short supply, they can be seen feeding on bird feeders, gardens, and the generosity of humans.
The Red squirrel is the most vocal of all the squirrel species and will often chatter at perceived threats. They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon.
Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys Volans)
Maine is home to two types of flying squirrels; the Northern (Glaucomys sabrinus) and the southern (G. Volans). The Northern has been a resident of Maine and Canada for several years. However, both global warming and loss of habitat have allowed the range of the Southern to expand into areas where it was not typically found, including Maine.
The G. Volans is a small nocturnal rodent with large eyes, furry tail, and flattened hind feet with skin membranes that allow it to glide between trees. They are brownish-gray above and white below, with darker patches around the eyes. Adults are 9-11 inches.
The Northern flying squirrel is a bit larger and has a 10-12 inch wingspan at full maturity.
The diet of both flying squirrels includes insects, nuts, berries, acorns, sap, and mushrooms.
Southern Flying Squirrels produce two litters each year with 2-4 young each. The gestation period is 40 days, and the mother weans her babies at 6 – 8 weeks. The Northern flying squirrel has a gestation period of 40 days. Their litters of offspring can range from 1-6 and the young are typically weaned two months after birth.
Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus Niger)
This squirrel is bigger than most species at a weight of 1 – 3 pounds and 19 – 29 inches long. The fur on its back ranges in color between black and gray, while its underside has an orange tone that stretches to its ears, feet, cheeks, and tail edges. In addition, its long, bushy tail varies in color.
The Eastern Fox squirrel can be seen foraging in bird feeders and people’s backyards. They reside in both central and southern Maine’s hardwood forests. These rodents build their nests in large oak and hickory trees.
Their diet consists of acorns, beechnuts, fruits, fungi, corn, and insects. During the winter, they have been known to eat tree bark when food is scarce.
The Eastern Fox squirrel is a loner except during mating season or when raising young. Mating season begins.
They breed twice a year and produce 1 -2 litters of young each year. After 45 days of gestation, the female fox squirrel will produce 1 – 7 blind, hairless young and wean them at eight weeks.
Delmarva Fox Squirrel (Sciurus Niger Cinereus)
The Delmarva fox squirrel is a subspecies of the fox squirrel that is found on the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes parts of Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland. They have also been introduced to Long Island, New York.
The Delmarva fox squirrel is the largest subspecies of the fox squirrel. It can reach lengths of up to 30 inches, including its tail. They are grayish-brown in color with a paler underside. Their tails are bushy and tipped with white.
Delmarva fox squirrels live in mature forests of pine trees and hardwood with ground cover and minimal understory.
These squirrels reside in several counties on the Maryland Eastern Shore. They love eating acorns, pine nuts, sweetgum, walnuts, fruit, insects, fungi, and immature pinecones.
This species has a breeding season in late winter, and after a 44-day gestation period, the females produce 1-4 young and wean them at 9-12 weeks. They may birth a second litter in the summer if conditions allow.
Can I Relocate to Maine With A Pet Squirrel?
If you’ve acquired a squirrel while living in a state where it’s legal, there’s no reason you can’t move to Maine with your pet. That said, Maine has some of the strictest laws regarding the possession of wildlife in the country.
Maine’s Department of Agriculture requires the registration of pet birds, squirrels, and other exotic animals before relocating to the state.
It is illegal to own a pet squirrel in Maine. You face harsh penalties if caught with a pet squirrel.
Squirrels are wild animals and do not make good pets. Squirrels are wild animals that are aggressive, carry diseases, and bite.
If you are looking for a pet, consider adopting a cat or dog from your local animal shelter.
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