Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Oregon?

can you have a pet squirrel in Oregon

If you live in Oregon and are considering a pet squirrel, think again. According to Oregon law, residents are forbidden to own any exotic pets, including squirrels. We bet you never put pet squirrels on par with black bears! Before getting any exotic pet, you should know which states it’s legal to own squirrels

Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel?

If you live in Oregon and want a pet squirrel but do not have one already, it is against the law to have one. That said, if you move from a different state where owning a squirrel is allowed, you may be able to keep it. It is known as grandfathering. 


If you live in the state of Oregon and have had your pet squirrel before January 20th, 2017, and can prove that you had your pet squirrel before that date, it is legal to keep them so long as you meet the requirements set by the state.

2017 was when the ban on owning native wildlife as pets in Oregon was enacted on January 21st, 2017. Anyone who owned native wildlife as a pet before this date is “grandfathered” – meaning that the new law does not apply to their pet.

Oregon’s grandfathering law pertains to cougars, bobcats, wolves, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, and other non-game wildlife species. You can read more about the law here.

Permit Requirement

Native wildlife that was owned as a pet before January 20th, 2017, may stay with their owner for the remainder of their natural life. Provided the owner has and renews an Exhibitor/Animal Entertainment Industry, Sanctuary Permit annually, or a Wildlife Holding.

Both types of permits are issued by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Wildlife Holding permit costs $29.00 per species per year. This permit is the permit that most squirrel owners will have.

The Wildlife Exhibitor/Animal Entertainment Industry or Sanctuary permit costs $105.00 per year. This permit is issued for commercial ventures or sanctuaries.

Permits must be renewed each year before the date of expiry.

Permits apply only to grandfathered pets, and once a grandfathered pet dies, the pet owner may not acquire another exotic pet as outlawed by the state. 

Required Housing Regulations

Oregon also requires that pet squirrels that were grandfathered must be kept in a facility that meets department standards outlined in the Oregon Enclosure and Caging Standards for Holding Wildlife.

According to the standards, housing regulations for pet squirrels are as follows:

  • An enclosure for a single squirrel must have a minimum of 16 sq. ft floor area and be 8 ft high for tree squirrels and 4 ft. high for ground squirrels.
  • All enclosures must have a secure solid or mesh roof to prevent escape.
  • All outdoor cages must be metal mesh with a mesh size of no more than ½-inch by ½-inch.
  • Enclosures for more than one squirrel must add 25% more total floor area for each additional squirrel.
  • Nesting boxes for tree squirrels must be at least 1 sqft and 2 ft. high.
  • Every squirrel must have their own nest box.
  • Tree squirrels must have access to a central climbing tree with at least three branches of 3-inches in diameter available.
  • Ground squirrels must be provided with appropriate soil substrate and have a wire mesh across the cage floor that connects to the floor and extends for a minimum of 18-inches below the cage and buried in the soil.
  • A squirrel’s habitat must also incorporate complexity in the means of enclosure design, including structures to climb and secluded areas where the squirrel can hide.

Proof of Acquisition

The department also requires that all pets grandfathered must have been obtained from an out-of-state legal source or a sales receipt, veterinary inspection, an Oregon Department of Agriculture import permit, or valid transfer papers from a previous owner.

Pet owners must be willing to sign a notarized affidavit regarding the acquisition of their pet.

Limitations on Breeding

Grandfathered pets in Oregon may not be bred. If a pet owner has a pet of each sex, one of the two must be sterilized by a veterinarian. The owner must have been issued documentation from the veterinarian regarding the procedure. Alternately, the two sexes may be kept separately.

Do You Need A Permit to Own a Pet Squirrel?

As mentioned above, it is illegal to own a pet squirrel in Oregon, and no permits are issued to new squirrel owners.

The only ownership permits made available to squirrel owners are permits for animals grandfathered in as per the information noted above.

Oregon does, however, offer special permits for wildlife rehabilitation. Only certified wildlife rehab specialists are granted this type of permit.

Wildlife rehabilitation permits are temporary. The laws make it legal for someone with training to rehabilitiate a squirrel and release it back into the wild. For example, squirrels and chipmunks.

What Types of Squirrels are In the Area? (Grey, Fox, Flying?)

There are four species of tree squirrel in Oregon – the western gray squirrel, the Douglas squirrel, the American red squirrel, and the northern flying squirrel.

There are eight species of ground squirrels in Oregon. The Meriam’s ground squirrel, the California ground squirrel, the Washington ground squirrel, Belding’s ground squirrel, the Colombian ground squirrel, the golden-mantled ground squirrel, the Wyoming ground squirrel, and the Piute ground squirrel.

How to Get A Pet Squirrel In Oregon

The only means of having a pet squirrel in Oregon is to have owned one before January 20th, 2017. You will be responsible for meeting and maintaining the necessary state requirements for ownership.

Another possibility is for the owner of a grandfathered squirrel to legally transfer ownership to you. However, this requires a legal transfer of ownership and collaboration with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In Oregon?

No. Under no circumstances may you but a pet squirrel in the state of Oregon. It is illegal, and if caught doing so, you could face huge fines or penalties.

Why Is Oregon So Strict About Owning Pet Squirrels?

It may seem that Oregon is going over the top when it comes to banning squirrels as exotic pets. However, there is a good reason. Allowing ownership of pet squirrels puts the native squirrel population of Oregon at risk. It also puts the health of Oregon residents at risk when you consider the disease that wild squirrels and their fleas can spread!


If you reside in Oregon, the only way to enjoy squirrels is to put a squirrel feeder up in your backyard. 

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