Some states put restrictions on the possession of wild animals because of the possible danger they may cause. As tempting as it is to rescue that seemingly abandoned baby squirrel, it might not be a great idea to take it in as your own, yet.
However passionate you are about animals, the laws of the state you live in dictate whether or not you can keep squirrels. So, can you have a pet squirrel in Texas?
Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Texas?
According to the state of Texas, animals found in the wild are native to the environment. Therefore, individuals are not allowed to own them. Wildlife animals in Texas are not considered as pets.
Unfortunately for the animal lovers, no, you cannot – unless you have permission. If you’re thinking about keeping a squirrel as a pet, there are things you should understand about the laws and regulations.
Is it Illegal to have a Keep A Pet Squirrel In Texas?
Yes, owning wildlife in Texas is illegal without the required authorization. Section 63 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife code lists gray squirrels, fox squirrels, and red squirrels, among other animals, as game animals.
It goes ahead to assert that they are protected wildlife species, and you must have a permit or license to possess them. You should also be in a position to prove that you will cage it appropriately before you can obtain the license.
Offering Temporary Care of A Squirrel In Texas
What to Do When You Find an Orphaned or Injured Squirrel in Texas
The Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition (TWRC) takes in orphaned and injured wildlife. While they should be the first number to call as soon as you notice the lost or injured squirrel, they may not get to you in good time.
Here’s how you can offer temporary care:
- Always wear gloves before handling a squirrel.
- Line a shallow box with a soft cloth. You can use a t-shirt.
- If it’s an injured adult squirrel, take a rolled-up newspaper or stick and gently push it into the secure box mentioned above. It should also have holes in it for proper ventilation. Avoid putting the squirrel into a plastic bag.
- Do not feed the squirrel any food or drink. Giving it the wrong food could make it sick or die.
- Place the box with the squirrel in a quiet, warm, dark place. Darkness will give it a sense of security.
- If it’s a baby squirrel, place the box halfway onto a heating pad so that the other half is cool. In case the squirrel starts feeling too warm, it can move to the other side of the box. Heating pads are only ideal for baby squirrels and not adult animals.
- Limit eye-contact and human touch as much as possible. These can stress an injured wild animal and cause shock or death. Also, holding squirrels unnecessarily may make them adopt scents like perfumes, deodorants, and detergent.
These scents will most likely cause the parent to reject the animal. Rejection also happens if the baby has stayed away from the parent or nest too long.
- If the squirrel has been taken by another animal like a dog or cat, call the TWRC immediately. You may not see any wounds, but squirrel injuries require immediate medical attention.
- Finally, keep children and pets safe, away from the squirrel. When grown squirrels are hurt and frightened, they may become aggressive.
The Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is authorized to provide permits to care for and rehabilitate wildlife species like squirrels.
If you come across an orphaned or injured squirrel, this permit allows you to keep it until it’s healthy or strong enough to go back into the wild.
As a rehabilitator, you must work closely with a veterinarian to ensure it’s getting the right care and eating the right food. Before you receive the permit, authorities will inspect your facilities.
Although you don’t pay for the permit, you will spend money on the medication, food, and other expenses as the division does not grant money for rehabilitation.
How to Get A Wildlife Permit In Texas?
The types of licenses issued by the Wildlife Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department consist of the following:
- Care for
- Transport or sell protected wildlife species
Every county and city have their own rules and regulations regarding holding live wild animals. For additional information regarding wildlife permits, call (800) 792-1112, or visit this website.
Squirrels in Texas
Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger)
This large tree squirrel is either brown or grayish with an orange-red underside and its bushy tail is tipped with darker hairs. Their fur coat colors may vary in different areas. They typically occupy the eastern two-thirds of Texas.
They thrive and are usually seen in open hard woodlands, pine forests, river bottoms. These critters enjoy feeding on nuts, seeds, acorns, seeds, tree buds, and fungi.
They build nests in tree cavities or make leaf nests on the branches.
Fox squirrels breed twice a year in January and May, producing between 2 to 4 young, and their life expectancy is ten years.
Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
The Eastern Gray tree squirrel is medium-sized with a brown or gray fur coat tipped with yellowish, gray, or white hairs. It has lighter colored underparts and a bushy tail. Most Eastern Gray squirrels are in east Texas.
They live in hardwood forests, pine forests, and river bottoms. Their diet is similar to that of the Fox squirrel, including nuts, seeds, fungi, buds, and fruit. When their natural resources are depleted, they’ll eat bird eggs and young birds.
They bury one nut at a time in the ground and build nests in tree holes. They breed twice a year and produce between 2 and 4 blind and naked young per litter. Their maximum lifespan is 12 years in the wild.
Flying squirrels live in the Texan wild, and most people can easily miss seeing them because they are nocturnal, glide between trees, and are so tiny.
The National Wildlife Federation states that the southern flying squirrels exist on the eastern part of the U.S., between Maine south and Florida and west from Minnesota south to Texas.
These squirrels will eat anything from nuts to seeds, fruits to vegetables, to birds and their eggs. Their habitat is characterized by wooded areas where they make their homes in abandoned nests or woodpecker holes.
The unique quality of flying squirrels is their ability to glide up to 150 feet, thanks to the special membrane that stretches from its fore legs throughout its body to the hind legs.
Mexican Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus mexicanus)
This small-bodied squirrel features brown fur but what differentiates it from the rest is the nine rows of white spots along its back. Its underparts are whitish, and it has small, round ears and a reasonably bushy tail.
They are common in southern and western Texas, southeastern New Mexico, and Mexico.
They are good at building burrow systems for hiding, nesting, and hibernation. Usually, these burrows have various entrances and exits. Most times, the openings are difficult to find because of the dirt that builds on top of them.
They may hide in other burrows for temporary refuge in case of impending danger. Mexican Ground Squirrels live in grassy or bushy areas and prefer sandy or gravelly soils.
They breed once a year around March and April and have a brood chamber in their tunnel’s deepest area. After around 30 days of gestation, they produce a litter of about five blind, helpless young.
During spring, Mexican Ground Squirrels mostly consume green vegetation. When summer sets in, they change to insects. These squirrels also enjoy eating meat. A lot of the time, they are spotted feeding off small animals on highways.
It’s interesting to note that despite the law against having squirrels as pets in Texas, some breeders within the state are selling them.
All you have to do is search for ‘pet squirrels for sale in Texas.’ Remember to check your local county on what extra laws they have so that you don’t get in trouble with hefty fines or jail time.