Mississippi is home to the longest river systems in North America, as well as famous foods such as fried catfish, barbecue, Po Boys, etc. If you’re considering relocating to the state or a current resident, you may have wondered “can you have a pet squirrel in Mississippi? Here’s everything I’ve found out while doing some research.
Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Mississippi?
The short answer is no, you cannot keep a squirrel as a pet. According to § 49-8-1, no persons may possess, transport, sell, or import wild animals of any kind, including squirrels, white tailed deer fawns, and birds. Only government agencies, public zoos, or university research facilities are expect from this law, and they must receive a certificate of approval.
Is It Illegal to Have A Pet Squirrel In Mississippi?
Yes, it is illegal to own a squirrel as a pet in Mississippi. If caught with one, it will have to be released back into the wild. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information on whether you can be charged with fines.
However, states such as Vermont, Iowa, etc charge hefty fines if caught with an illegal pet. If you’re considering getting a squirrel, make sure you do your due diligence to find out what types of fees you can face by breaking the laws. The best place to start is the Mississippi Department of Wildlife website.
What Animals Are Illegal to Own In Mississippi?
As mentioned above, it is illegal to own grey, fox, flying, red, and any other squirrel breed. This does not mean you can own other types of wild animals. According to the state’s law, trying to tame wildlife is against both nature and the law.
In fact, Mississippi has an extensive list of animals that are prohibited as pets and they include:
- Large Cats
- Bears (all species)
Anyone caught trying to tame and keep any type of wildlife will be required to dispose of the animal, within 30 days according to the Mississippi laws.
Can You Rescue A Squirrel In Mississippi?
No, according to the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries & Parks website, it is against the law to capture, possess, or cage any type of wild animals, including baby squirrels being blown out of nests.
They recommend leaving the animals alone, so the mother can find them and care for them. That said, I recommend leaving them alone and then checking up on them in a day or two to make sure the mother did come back for them.
You can also contact the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to report an injured animal. Unfortunately, the MDWFP won’t pick up injured wildlife, unless it is on the threatened and endangered list.
Can You Obtain a Wildlife Rehabilitator License?
Mississippi offers residents to become a rehabilitator for injured animals. That said, you must apply for a permit and once approved, the animals are kept on a temporary basis and then released back into the wild.
Wildlife rehabilitators are not allowed to keep squirrels and other wildlife animals as pets.
Can You Relocate to Mississippi With A Pet Squirrel?
There are no laws specifically stating residents relocating to Mississippi can or cannot bring a squirrel. However, since it is illegal to transport wild animals, it is likely you won’t be granted authorization to keep it.
Before relocating, reach out the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, to let them know you have a domesticated pet squirrel. Since the squirrel is domesticated and won’t survive in the wild, they may allow you to keep it as a pet. That said, don’t be surprised if they give you a hard time keeping it.
There have been many instances in the past where the state Game Commission didn’t allow residents to keep a pet squirrel, and 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.
Types of Squirrels In Mississippi?
Mississippi is home to the Eastern Gray Squirrel and the Fox Squirrel. Both squirrels can be found throughout the state, but the gray squirrels are the most common ones seen in parks, neighborhoods, and backyards.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is the larger of the two, measuring up to 20 inches long and weighing up to 19 ounces. They are easily recognizable by their gray fur and white belly.
It has a long bushy tail that is used to help them balance when dashing between tree branches. Their diet consists of mostly flowers, nuts, seeds, acorns and buds on various trees such as; dogwood, maple, elm etc.
You can also find them eating the seeds from spruce, cedar, and hemlock trees as well. These opportunistic feeders won’t made raiding bird feeders and garbage can if they can’t find food easily in the wild.
The Fox Squirrel is larger than it’s gray cousin, weighing in at an average of 28 ounces. They have bushier coats and tails with hair sticking up from their ears. Their color can vary from pale gray to a reddish brown color, with a lighter colored underbelly.
They can be find thriving in areas that offer savannah like habitats. These areas provide wide open spaces and abundant food sources. That said, like their cousin (the Gray Squirrel) they have learned how to acclimate to their environment and can be found in urban and suburban areas.
When looking for food, they will eat just about anything including; insects, bird eggs, fruits and vegetables from gardens, and even small reptiles.
Like their cousin, they have many preditors such as hawks, owls. Young squirrels can be eaten by snakes.
They can commonly be found living in trees with holes and cavities, such as oak, elm, and other hardwood trees. This enables them to build dens or nests for their young. In addition, they use the dens to hibernate during the winter.
While it is illegal to keep a pet squirrel in Mississippi, residents can still enjoy watching them frolic in trees and gathering nuts in your backyard, parks, etc. If you come across an injured animal, the best thing to do is to contact a wildlife rehabilitation center.
If you’re thinking about relocating to Mississippi with your furry friend, make sure to check with your local laws before making the move.