Bay State is known for its many colleges and universities, including Harvard University. Massachusetts is the smallest state in the U.S. but has an abundance of gray, red, and other types of squirrels in the area. Some people who enjoy keeping unusual pets may wonder whether it’s legal to keep a squirrel pet in Massachusetts. If you are considering getting a pet squirrel, it’s essential to understand the rules and regulations regarding pet ownership.
Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is strict in its pet laws. According to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife website, the only type of squirrel residents can keep as pets is the Southern Flying squirrel. In addition, according to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations 321 CMR 9.01, certain mammals, birds, and animals do not require a MassWildlife permit or license.
That said, it’s up to the person to know which animals are legal and which ones are not.
Some animals require a permit, while others are outright banned from being kept as pets. It’s best to check with the state or local municipality before getting any type of pet to ensure it’s legal.
The only animals it is legal to take from the wild are certain reptiles and amphibians.
While the laws are lenient and allow certain wild animals to be kept as pets, you must care for the animal’s health and safety and ensure it is adequately secured.
Let’s take a deeper look at everything you need to know about getting a pet squirrel in Massachusetts.
Is it Illegal to Have A Pet Squirrel in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is strict with pet laws, and there are only certain types of squirrels you can keep as pets. The only type of squirrel that does not require a permit from the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife is the Southern Flying Squirrel.
Unfortunately, Massachusetts only grants permits for wildlife animal ownership for educational, commercial, or scientific reasons.
Taking any other type of squirrel from the wild is illegal, as they are not considered captive-bred. Unfortunately, there is no information on the legalities of owning an illegal animal in the state.
There are also several other animals that you cannot keep as pets in Massachusetts, such as raccoons, coyotes, skunks, foxes, and wolves. It is also against the law to own a primate, like a monkey.
Domesticated Legal Animals
Massachusetts allows residents to own some unusual animals.
Here’s a list of some mammals that don’t require a permit, meaning they are acceptable pets.
- Deer Mouse
- Southern Flying Squirrel
- Norway Rat
- Four-Toes Hedgehog
- Egyptian Spiny Mouse
- White-Footed Mouse
- Sugar Glider
Can You Take Animals From The Wild?
The only animals allowed to take from the wild are certain amphibians and reptiles. If you see an abandoned squirrel in the wild, MassWildlife recommends contacting a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
The Massachusetts law protects wild animals. Taking animals from the wild is illegal if you’re not a licensed rehabilitator.
Instead, use this map to find a rehabilitator in your area to get assistance in capturing and transporting the animal to the proper authorities.
How to Become A Wildlife Rehabilitator In Massachusetts?
Wildlife rehabilitators are licensed by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) to care for sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife.
If you are interested in becoming a wildlife rehabilitator, you must pass the Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit exam with a score of no less than 80%.
The exam covers the following subjects:
- Wildlife Diseases
- General Biology of Massachusetts Wildlife
- Treatment Methods
- Endangered Species
There is no fee to take the exam. You can find the study guide at mass.gov/wildlife-rehabilitation.
The wildlife permit costs $10 and is payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – DFW. Click this link to start the application process.
What Types of Squirrels Are Found In Massachusetts?
At the time of this writing, over 64% of Massachusetts is covered in forest land. This means that the chances of coming across a squirrel are pretty high.
Gray and red squirrels are the most common.
However, other species, such as the fox and Southern Flying squirrels, reside in the state. So let’s take a closer look at the different types of squirrels in the area.
Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus Carolinensis)
The Eastern Gray squirrel is a non-native species of the state. They are seen throughout the state, including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
These species inhabit areas with broad-leafed deciduous forests.
One such area is October Mountain, the largest state forest in Massachusetts. There are over 16,500 acres of forest land.
It is home to deciduous trees, such as oaks, maples, and beeches. These trees are popular among wildlife, predominantly gray and flying squirrels.
These opportunistic feeders will eat just about anything they can find. Including seeds, fruits, nuts, insects, and even bird eggs!
The Eastern Gray squirrel will also strip the bark from trees in search of food during the winter months.
The coat of an Eastern Gray squirrel is salt and pepper colored. With a gray fur coat and a large bushy tail. The color camouflages it within the woods, hiding it from predators.
Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Like the gray squirrels, the Red Squirrel (Sciurus) is the most common type found in Massachusetts. However, they are more territorial and aggressive than their gray cousins.
The red squirrels are also opportunistic feeders, eating just about anything they can find.
This squirrel has reddish-brown fur on its upper body, while the belly and undertail are white. In addition, 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 seeds from conifers, hemlock, pine, and spruce trees. Many people refer to this species as “pine squirrels.”
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 often chatter at perceived threats. They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon.
Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys Volans)
Massachusetts is home to the flying squirrel (Glaucomys Sabrinus). These species live in coniferous forests found throughout the island.
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.
Does Massachusetts Have Ground Squirrels?
Massachusetts may be the smallest state, but 63% (over 3.1 million acres) of it is covered in forest. This makes it an excellent place for all sorts of animals to live, including ground squirrels.
The Woodchuck (Marmota monax) is the most common ground squirrel found in Massachusetts. They are also known as “whistle-pigs” or “land beavers.” These chubby little rodents can grow to be up to 2 feet long and weigh up to 13 pounds!
Woodchucks are excellent swimmers and climbers, despite their rotund shape. But they spend most of their time on the ground. These rodents burrow underground and can create extensive tunnel systems.
The entrances to their homes are usually hidden beneath logs, rocks, or other debris. And they often have multiple exits to their burrows in case of predators.
Woodchucks are vegetarians and eat various plants, herbs, grasses, and whatever vegetation is available in their habitat. They will also eat grubs, insects, and small mammals.
Can I Relocate to Massachusetts With A Pet Squirrel?
According to the laws, the squirrel will not likely be able to be kept as a pet. The Southern Flying squirrel is the only type of mammal that is legal to keep as a pet.
However, there have been many instances where the state Game Commission didn’t allow residents moving to different states to keep a pet squirrel. Finally, after some lengthy legal battles, the squirrel was allowed to remain a pet.
One such case that comes to mind is the case of Nutkin, the squirrel that was acquired in South Carolina (where it’s allowed to own squirrels) and relocated to Pennsylvania.
Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In Massachusetts?
No, the laws prohibit anyone from owning wild animals without the proper permits and licenses. But unfortunately, the law only grants permits and licenses to sanctuaries, educational facilities, and zoos.
However, several websites, such as this one, sell all kinds of exotic animals throughout the United States.
That said, be prepared to pay for a domesticated squirrel. Prices range from $300 – $800 or more. In addition, if caught using one, you could face legal issues.
Massachusetts is strict regarding wildlife as pet ownership. The Southern Flying squirrel is the only type of mammal that is legal to keep as a pet. If you’re considering relocating to Massachusetts with a pet squirrel, be aware of the legalities and penalties involved.
Squirrels don’t make good house pets. They are messy, destructive, and require a lot of work.
If you’re looking for a small mammal to keep as a pet, consider adopting a domesticated animal like a hamster or gerbil instead. These animals are much easier to take care of and don’t require special permits or licenses.
- Do Squirrels Make Good Pets?
- Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Rhode Island?
- Is It Illegal To Own A Pet Squirrel In Maine?
- Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In New Jersey?