Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In North Carolina?


Let’s face it; baby squirrels are adorable. Even the adults are cute, fluffy, and entertaining. For that reason, many people out there wonder if they can keep a pet squirrel in their home. The laws vary from state to state, and we’re going to share whether you can keep a squirrel in North Carolina.

Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In North Carolina?

According to the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, squirrels are not allowed to as pets. If caught with a captive wild squirrel, you may be subject to fines. According to Emilie Nelson, who runs the North Carolina Wildlife Rehab, they don’t make great pets. 

If you move from a state like South Carolina, where it’s allowed, you need to know what the laws are for keeping a pet squirrel in North Carolina. It’s up to you to know which states pet squirrels are allowed.

Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel?

No, it is not legal to own a pet squirrel in North Carolina. It’s even illegal to keep a native squirrel in your possession unless you take it to a wildlife rehabilitator (which must be licensed). 

If you see an orphaned squirrel that has fallen out of its nest. Don’t be tempted to bring it inside. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s recommendation is to leave it where it is because the female could come back for it. It may take several hours for her to come back, so be patient.

The only time they say it can help for a human to intervene is if the squirrel is sick or injured. If it is following either people or pets, it has likely been handled by a pet or has been in human care for one day or more already.

Wild squirrels are scared of people and will run away from people and pets. It’s a countermeasure that keeps them safe. 

North Carolina has made it illegal to keep any wild animal as a pet, so always follow the rules. Otherwise, you could be penalized. 

According to Animals Mom, it is legal to own a flying squirrel in some counties. You will want to check the rules that apply in your county.

Do You Need A Permit to Own a Pet Squirrel?

It is not possible to get a permit to own a pet squirrel. This is because North Carolina won’t allow you to hold a wild animal as a pet for the purposes of companionship or amusement. A Wildlife Captivity License in North Carlina only permits authorized individuals to keep a wild animal for exhibition, educational, or scientific purposes. 

While South Carolina does offer a permit, this is not possible in North Carolina for squirrels.

What Types of Squirrels are In the Area? 

Four types of squirrels call North Carolina home: 

  • Eastern Grey Squirrel
  • Red Squirrel
  • Flying Squirrel
  • Southeastern Fox Squirrel

People everywhere have become fascinated with keeping squirrels as pets, so let’s take a closer look at the different types of squirrels. 

The Eastern Grey Squirrel

The Eastern Grey Squirrel is the most common type found in North Carolina. These squirrels have grey fur, a white underbelly, and a large bushy tail. 

They average 18 inches in length and can weigh one pound.

The Eastern Grey squirrel has a varied diet and typically eats berries, seeds, tree bark, tree buds, acorns, nuts, and fungi. You’ll often find them in dense woodlands where there are numerous oaks and hickories, which provide them with plenty of food.

These squirrels will usually make their dens either upon large tree branches or in hollow trunks of trees. When you see them closer to civilization, they can be found in parks or backyards. 

Red Squirrel

The Red Squirrel is a tree squirrel that is locally known as the “boomer” or “pine” squirrel. They are usually found in spruce-fir forests because they like to feed off the seeds of conifer stands. 

Red Squirrels are smaller than other American tree squirrels and are typically 11–14 inches in length, including their tails. They have reddish-grey fur in the winter, reddish-orange in the summer, and a white underbelly. During winter, the Red Squirrels will also grow little tufts of fur around their ears.

The Flying Squirrel

There are two species of flying squirrels found in North Carolina: the Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel and the Southern Flying Squirrel. 

Despite their names, these squirrels don’t fly in the same way as birds. 

Instead, they leap from trees and glide using a cape of skin that appears when they hold out their legs and arms.

Carolina Northern Flying Squirrels have cinnamon-brown fur on their upper bodies, grey fur on their faces and tips of their tails, and grey and cream-colored fur on their underbellies. 

They grow to between 10 and 15 inches in length, including their tails. They inhabit North Carolina’s highest mountains and live in the forests there. 

The Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel is nocturnal and feeds on plant material, bird eggs, insects, buds, flowers, tree sap, fungi, and carrion. These squirrels commonly stockpile food where they might hide it in tree cavities or their nests.

The Southern Flying Squirrel is more common than the Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel. The Southern Flying Squirrel has grey-brown fur on their upper bodies and a cream-colored underbelly. They can grow to between 8.3 and 10.2 inches in length, including their tails. 

They are also nocturnal and feed on fruit, nuts, mushrooms, buds, fungi, bird eggs, flowers, and carrion. This species is also found in forests, typically in the following trees: hickory, beech, maple, poplar, and oak. Occasionally, they can be found in heavily wooded areas near civilization too, but in smaller numbers.

The Southeastern Fox Squirrel

The Southeastern Fox Squirrel is the largest type, coming in at between 17 and 27 inches long. This species comes in two colors: dark or reddish. 

The ones with dark fur range from grey to black and have a tan color on their underbelly. Their heads are black, and they have distinctive white fur on their noses, feet, and ears. The ones with reddish fur can be red, tan, or orange. 

How to Get A Pet Squirrel In North Carolina

It is not possible to get a pet squirrel in North Carolina because it is illegal. This is due to the laws against holding a wild animal as a pet for companionship or amusement purposes. 

There are no permits available as a result, and it is against the law to keep a native squirrel in your home.

Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In North Carolina?

Since it is illegal to keep a pet squirrel in North Carolina, it is illegal to sell them. You won’t find any squirrels in pet shops or Craiglist (or you shouldn’t anyway!). 

North Carolina doesn’t permit any wild animal to be kept as a pet, whether for companionship or amusement purposes.

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