Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In New Mexico? [Permits, Laws & So Much..]

can you have a pet squirrel in New Mexico

New Mexico has a diverse landscape, with many interesting activities to do. But did you there are no laws that prohibit residents from owning pet squirrels? However, before you go out and buy a pet squirrel, there are some things you should be made aware of.

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Squirrel In New Mexico?

According to New Mexico’s Wildlife website, its residents are not required to have a license to take nongame species, which include ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and porcupines. Non residents must purchase a Nonresident Nongame license. 

The state limits the type of animals you can keep, and the laws are enforced by conservation officers. They have the ability to fine, or arrest any person who violates the Wildlife Conservation Act.

The Wildlife Conservation Act [ 17-2-37 NMSA 1978], prohibits any person from transporting, selling, possessing, or exporting any species that are deemed endangered by the state.

So before getting a pet squirrel in New Mexico, you need to be aware of any permit requirements, how to get one, and which type of animals are against the law to own. Failure to abide by the rules and regulations can lead to fines, seizures and arrests.  

List of Exotic Animals You Can’t Keep

While New Mexico is one of the few states that allow residents to keep some nongame animals as pets. It is against the law to keep exotic animals such as; alligators, wolves, and crocodiles.

Keeping A squirrel In New Mexico

The state is vague on the types of laws for wildlife species kept as pets. They do however have a set of laws that state residents may own six pets, with no more than four dogs.

According to the state of Albuquerque website, there are a set of standards for animal care. While they do pertain to domesticated animals, a pet squirrel would likely fall under the same laws which include:

  1. Clean water and adequate shelter and shade must be provided.
  2. No animals must be neglected at any time.
  3. Pets must be supplied with proper amounts of nutritious food to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  4. All enclosures must be clean, safe and in sanitary conditions.
  5. No animals shall be treated in cruel or inhumane ways.

While the laws above pertain to domesticated animals, they are a good rule to follow for any type of pet, even a squirrel.

Do You Need A Permit to Own A Squirrel

After careful due diligence, it is not very clear on whether you need a permit to own a pet squirrel. However the state requires annual permitting fees for dogs and cats. Therefore, I would a permit would be required for squirrels and other exotic animals.

This page has everything you need to know regarding permits for animals, as well as how to apply. 

What Types of Squirrels Are In New Mexico?

New Mexico is home to four species of squirrels. Of course, you’ll want to do you due diligence to make sure which you can keep as a pet or not.


The Albert’s squirrel have long bushy tails with ear tufts which are also called “tassle eared squirrels”.  The ear tufts are hard to miss and are more visible in the cooler months, as they disappear in the summer months.

These species can be found residing in coniferous forests such as the Jemenez Mountains. Their favorite tree is the Ponderosa Pine.


The Fox squirrel is the one that can be spotted in your backyard stealing bird seed, parks, neighborhoods, etc. It is the largest of the four, a full grown adult can weigh up to 1.8 pounds.

They spend most of their time foraging for nuts, seeds, etc. It’s not hard to spot their golden-brown body, especially since they spend a lot of time in open savannah like habitats.


The New Mexico Gay squirrel (Sciurus Arizonensis) are typically found in mid elevations and mountainous areas such as; Grant and Luna counties and Gila National Forest in Catron.

They can be spotted by living and roaming around rivers in deciduous woods, hunting for pine cones, walnuts, and acorns. Due to all the building and tearing down of trees, they have experienced habitat loss.

Gray squirrels are not on the endangered species list, but may be eventually, if we don’t stop tearing down their habitat.


The American Red squirrel also referred to as the Chickaree is the smallest of the four, weighing 7.1-8.8 ounces. Their predominate habitat consists of fir and spruce trees. They can be found throughout the state, but largely spotted in the San Juan,  Sangre De Cristo, Capitan mountain ranges.

How to Get A Squirrel In New Mexico

It is considerably easier to get a pet squirrel in New Mexico than it is in some other states, where it’s not even allowed.

Residents that want to raise a squirrel have the best opportunity if they find an injured squirrel or befriend one on their personal property. As mentioned above, it is illegal to trap wild animals on public land, doing so will result in criminal charges.

If you’re interested in purchasing a squirrel raised in captivity, be sure to purchase from a licensed dealer/breeder. Failure to do so can result in arrest, especially if someone reports you.

A search warrant will be issued and an Wildlife officers will have the right to search your vehicles, home, and any other property and seize any animal they believe was taken or held in violation of the Wildlife Conservation Act.

Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In New Mexico

According to the Animal Protection Services website, anyone selling animals must have a permit. It is illegal to purchase a pet on the side of the road or by answering a classified ad, if the person does not have a permit.

Doing so can result in violation of the Wildlife Conservation Act, which can result in criminal charges. The state recommends reporting anyone selling animals without a permit, by contacting the Animal Welfare Department.

The Easiest Way to Get A Pet Squirrel In New Mexico

It seems that the easiest way to get a pet squirrel in New Mexico is to trap it in the wild.  While this may be the easiest way, it is also the most dangerous.

That said, the Senate Bill 32 prohibits trapping on all public land in New Mexico. Anyone caught violating the law, runs the risk of being charged with a misdemeanor.

Not only that, but you also run the risk of being bitten or injuring the animal. If you are going to trap a squirrel, make sure you have all the proper permits and follow all the guidelines set forth by the state.

Final Word

At the time of this writing, it is legal to own a pet squirrel in New Mexico. However, laws change constantly when it comes to owning exotic pets.

So, if you’re thinking about getting a pet squirrel, you’ll need to do your due diligence, as it’s a lot different than owning a cat or a dog.

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