Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Ohio? [Legality, Permits, and More]

can you have a pet squirrel in ohio

Anyone who wants to own a squirrel in Ohio might be wondering whether they legally can and how they can obtain one if so. Squirrels are illegal as pets in much of the United States of America, but what about in Ohio?

Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Ohio?

According to the rule 1501:31 – 15-03, the Nuisance wild animal control is prohibited from trapping or taking wild animals from the wild. That said, Ohio laws are not as clear as other states, and at one point, it was legal to own a pet squirrel in Ohio.  

The states that allow squirrels as pets change from year to year, so do your due diligence before getting one. Here’s what I found regarding owning a pet squirrel in Ohio.

Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel?

The legalities of owning a pet squirrel in Ohio are murky at best. It is highly recommended that you check the specifics of ownership with local government officials and get something in writing before you progress to owning a squirrel, as this is not a straightforward area. Ohio increased the strictness of its laws in 2019.

A landmark case in 1997 found that a lady called Ms. Clifton could not legally own her pet squirrel, Angele. The squirrel had been rescued as a baby and was well-cared for by her human owners. But the state ruled that her ownership of the squirrel was illegal.

According to APNews, the reason for this was that there is no state law that provisions how wild squirrels can be taken in. 

If Angele had been purchased from a licensed breeder, ownership would be legal, but Ms. Clifton took her from the wild and did not have permission to do so.

Ms. Clifton was ordered to pass the squirrel to somebody who would look to release it, although she claimed that experts had told her the squirrel would die quickly if released as it could not survive independently.

Evidently, the method by which a squirrel is obtained is very significant to ownership in Ohio, so familiarize yourself with local laws and make sure you know what you are doing if you want to take on a squirrel.

Do You Need A Permit To Own a Pet Squirrel?

No, but you need to have purchased a squirrel from a licensed breeder, and you may need paperwork to prove that. Breeders will need a license to demonstrate that they have permission to breed and sell exotic pets, and you should make sure that you see this if you are purchasing a squirrel.

What Types of Squirrels Are In the Area?

According to BirdWatchingHQ, there are four kinds of squirrels in Ohio, and not all of them are natives. 

Of course, if you purchase from an exotic breeder, you may get a squirrel that is not normally found in Ohio, but if this is the case, you must be careful it does not escape. It is unlikely to be able to survive but could also pose a threat to native species.

American Red Squirrel

The first of the four squirrels is the American red squirrel. This little rusty-colored fellow may be familiar to you, with its reddish coat and white stomach. Red squirrels have a surprisingly poor life expectancy of only 2.3 years, although lucky ones can live to be around 8.

Red squirrels are considerably smaller than many other types of squirrels, being only around 11-14 inches. They are loud chatterers and love to take over bird feeders and munch away at the seeds.

Fox Squirrel

The fox squirrel is much larger, reaching sizes up to 27.6 inches. They can live a little over 12 years in the wild, though captive squirrels have been recorded as living up to 18 years old!

Fox squirrels often feed on the ground, and because they are large squirrels, they can easily out-compete or push out other squirrel species. They are excellent climbers and jumpers and very popular with most people.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

The eastern gray squirrel is slightly smaller than the fox squirrel, usually growing to sizes between 16 and 21 inches. They are perhaps the most recognizable kind of squirrel and thrive wherever humans are, as they are not shy creatures.

They can live for up to 12 years and are native to Ohio, although they are considered invasive in many other places. Because of their size, they can easily push out smaller squirrel species. 

Interestingly, some gray squirrels are black, though most are – as the name suggests – gray.

Southern Flying Squirrel

Finally, the southern flying squirrel is also an inhabitant of Ohio. It is considerably smaller, at only around 10 inches long at best, and does not live much longer than five years. 

They are highly social with other squirrels, but people rarely see them as they are nocturnal and don’t often interact with them.

How To Get A Pet Squirrel In Ohio

If you want to own a legal pet squirrel in Ohio, you will need to purchase one from a registered breeder. There are no laws that cover taking live squirrels from the wild, either because they are injured or as the result of hunting.

Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In Ohio?

There are many breeders of exotic pets in Ohio, and this is the route you should take if you want to have a pet squirrel. It is important to do research, both into the intricacies of owning a squirrel and into the breeder you plan to buy from.

Make sure that they have a good reputation, that the animals are healthy and cared for, and that you see all relevant paperwork to show that they are operating legally. You should also look into whether you need documentation to prove that the squirrel came from a breeder, not from the wild.

Take care to read up on squirrels and be certain that you can care for one before taking it on; they are demanding pets, and you will not be able to release or re-sell it if it proves too much for you to handle. 

Practice responsible pet ownership and make sure you can provide a suitable home before you get in touch with breeders.

Final Word

If you want a squirrel as a pet in Ohio, you must go through a breeder. Never take squirrels from the wild, or accept squirrels offered on free pages, social media, or by friends. 

You could end up in trouble if you are caught with a squirrel that you have not obtained legally, although it is likely that you will just be required to surrender the animal. In some circumstances, you could face legal repercussions, so familiarize yourself with local laws.

Related Articles


Recent Posts