Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Minnesota? [Rules and Regulations]

can you have a pet squirrel in Minnesota

If you’re looking to own a squirrel in Minnesota, you may find yourself sorely disappointed, at least if you want to stay on the right side of the law. Many people would love to keep a squirrel as a pet – they are soft, fluffy, adorable, and very funny to watch as they clamber about. However, you can’t have a pet squirrel in Minnesota. 

Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel?

No. According to BitterEmpire, many Minnesotan squirrels are protected by a law that says you cannot possess wildlife alive. However, that doesn’t apply to all squirrels, according to the site. 

The Minnesota Department Of Natural Resources claims to have been told that striped gophers (also known as thirteen-lined squirrels) are not considered protected wild animals. In which case, you may be able to own one of those without breaking the game and fish laws.

However, you should always check with local authorities before taking on any wild animal, making sure that you are familiar with the law and having something in writing to avoid potential confusion and fines.

It may still not be a good idea to own a squirrel – because squirrels can be very destructive and are not easily socialized with humans. However, legally speaking, you may be able to own certain species that do not come under Minnesota’s game and fish laws.

If you live in Minnesota and want to own a pet squirrel, you may want to consider moving to a state where it’s legal to own squirrels as pets. Otherwise, you run the risk of penalties and fines.

Do You Need A Permit To Own a Pet Squirrel?

You can’t get a permit to own a squirrel, no. If you want to own a gray squirrel or a fox squirrel, that’s illegal, and there’s no permit that overcomes the law. If you want to own one of the squirrels which does not fall under this law, you won’t need a permit.

In short, permits don’t affect the legality of squirrel ownership in Minnesota.

What Types of Squirrels Are In the Area?

According to DNRState, there are five kinds of squirrels in Minnesota. Below is a quick rundown of the types of squirrels found in Minnesota.

Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel

We already mentioned the thirteen-lined ground squirrel. This is a gopher-like squirrel that has stripes running down its back. It grows to around 11 inches and genuinely has thirteen stripes on its body.

These are not protected squirrels in Minnesota. They are not considered under threat and are not hunted. They are pretty widespread and are the mascot for the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers. 

If you were to find one of these, you could take it as a pet, though it may not be a good idea.

Red Squirrel

The red squirrel is a small species that is common in evergreen forests around the state. It can grow to around 13 inches long and has a white belly. It is among the nosier squirrel species and is commonly hunted, even though it does not provide as much meat as fox squirrels or gray squirrels.

Fox Squirrels

The fox squirrel is the largest tree squirrel in Minnesota and can grow to a full 24 inches long. They are common in western Minnesota, and they are popular with hunters. Despite that, they are not threatened and have a strong population throughout the state.

Gray Squirrel

Another one that is popular with hunters and extremely common is the gray squirrel. This is the one that most people will be familiar with, as it is bold, unafraid of humans, and loves feasting on food intended for birds.

You will see gray squirrels everywhere in Minnesota, but they like hardwood forests best. They also benefit from human settlements, interacting with people, and taking food.

Flying Squirrels

Finally, there are two kinds of flying squirrels in Minnesota. The southern species is a little smaller, measuring around nine inches, while the northern species can grow up to 11 inches. 

Both are very small and use flaps of skin between their limbs to glide from tree to tree.

They also benefit from bird feeders, and many people install lights so they can watch them at night. They are not protected mammals, so you could theoretically take one as a pet, but they are timid creatures and are unlikely to thrive in human hands, away from other squirrels.

How To Get A Pet Squirrel In Minnesota

You cannot get a pet squirrel in Minnesota unless you take one of the unprotected species from the wild. This would generally be considered a bad idea, as most will dislike human company and constantly try to escape, possibly causing destruction in the attempt.

Even if you brought an infant squirrel up and socialized it, you might run into problems; adult squirrels don’t necessarily interact well with people, and they would have no idea how to survive if it escaped. It would likely die.

If you are looking to get one of the protected species, it is not possible to do so legally, even if you injure one while hunting. The law states that any squirrels taken during a hunt must be dead; it is illegal to bring back a live squirrel under any circumstances.

Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In Minnesota?

No, you can’t buy pet squirrels in Minnesota. They are not a traded animal, and because of the legal issues with some species and the general destructiveness and unsuitability of the animals, they are not considered good pets in any circumstances. 


If you want to spend time with squirrels in Minnesota, you are likely to have many opportunities to do it in the wild. Squirrels are abundant in parks and forests, and most are very tame creatures that will quickly learn to come to you for food or attention.

You can make friends with local squirrels and possibly even train them to come to a call. While this may not be the same as owning them, you are likely to find that the squirrel is happier because it is in its natural habitat with other squirrels.

Don’t attempt to take squirrels as pets in Minnesota. Even if you can get around the law, they are not suited to it. You may find yourself in trouble for other reasons (such as animal abuse or neglect) or struggling to care for a mammal not suited to human companionship.

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