Can You Have a Pet Squirrel In Wisconsin? What You Need to Know

can you have a pet squirrel in Wisconsin

For most animal lovers, owning a pet squirrel looks as simple as just taking one home. However, even though you’re convinced that you can ably take care of it, you must consider the laws of the state you live in. 

Can you have a pet squirrel in Wisconsin?

According to the state laws, it’s illegal to keep most wild animals, and some animals may require a permit to keep them as pets. However, ground squirrels and red squirrels are on the list of native wild animals that exempt you from having a license or other approval to possess in Wisconsin. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources advises humans to keep wildlife wild. The department emphasizes the importance of observing wildlife at a respectful distance to allow their life in the forest to continue. 

Is it Legal to have a Pet Squirrel in Wisconsin?

Although the state laws say you can keep ground squirrels and red squirrels without a license, specific county laws within the state may be different. For example, the code of ordinances in Cudahy, a city in Wisconsin, states that it is unlawful for anyone to keep flying or non-flying variety squirrels. 

This may sound not very clear, but it also means that you must check with your local authorities to be sure of what is acceptable before you go out and get a squirrel.

What to Do If You Find an Orphaned or Sick Squirrel in Wisconsin?

Many animal lovers will find a lone baby squirrel and immediately assume that it is orphaned, which is likely not the case. According to the wildlife rehabilitation center, Wisconsin Humane Society, there is a high possibility that the mother will find her young if given a chance. So, don’t move it just yet.

First, check for any injuries like cuts, bruises, bloody nose, maggots, or clumps of fly eggs. Then check if the squirrel is cold to the touch. If you see any injury, maggots, or fly eggs, call your local licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately to save its life.

If the squirrel feels cool, warm it up before reuniting it with its mother. She may reject it if it’s cold. Pour hot water(not too hot) into a Ziploc bag, cover it with a clean cloth, and then place the baby squirrel in there. Make sure the fabric doesn’t have any loose thread.

Cover the squirrel with a single layer cloth to keep it warm and hide it from predators. Place the squirrel, water bag, and material in a shallow cardboard box and lay down the box at the tree’s base that had the nest. Do this only during daylight, as most squirrel species are active at this time. It will also make it easier for the mom squirrel to find them.

Do not leave the baby squirrel outside overnight as predators will find it. Also, avoid putting water or food in the box. Keep checking on the baby squirrel during the day from indoors, so you don’t scare the mother away. 

Stay alert for predators like crows and cats. If the mother doesn’t return after a couple of hours, call your closest rehabilitation center.

Types of Squirrels in Wisconsin

Five species of squirrels live in Wisconsin. They are the gray squirrel, red squirrel, fox squirrel, and the two species of flying squirrels (Northern and Southern). People that love observing wildlife will enjoy seeing all these, except the flying squirrels on an occasional basis as they are nocturnal.

Gray Squirrel (Sciurus Carolinensis)

The gray squirrel weighs between 1 and 1.5 pounds and is 16 to 20 long, including its tail of 8 – 10 inches. Its name comes from the color of its fur coat, which varies from black to white. Sometimes the gray squirrel appears black and other times yellowish, but they are perfectly normal gray squirrels. 

Its bushy tail has black and brown fur with white tips, and its underside has a white coat. Both sexes look the same. Generally, gray squirrels exist in every wooded habitat in Wisconsin, from rural to urban and suburban areas. 

They typically hang around mature hardwood forests that are rich with acorns, walnuts, and hickory nuts. They also enjoy various plants, fruits, fungi, corn, and seeds. When their natural food is scarce, they’ll eat bird eggs and baby birds. 

Fox Squirrel (Sciurus Niger)

Weighing between 1 and 3 pounds, this is the largest tree squirrel in Wisconsin with a fur coat color that varies from pale grey to brown and black. Its rusty appearance and size makes it remarkably different from the gray squirrel. It has a very fluffy tail with brown and gray fur, and both sexes look the same.

Fox squirrels typically occur in rural areas of mixed woods and farms throughout Wisconsin and are even more common in the state’s southern regions. They enjoy oak-hickory woodlands and fencerows but also exist in swamp hardwoods. They are easy to spot along roadsides because they tend to forage away from the protective tree cover.

They are similar to gray squirrels in that they adapt to available food. They enjoy a broad diet of fruit, acorns, tree buds, nuts, soybeans, insects, corn, tubers, fungi, bird eggs, roots, pine seeds, and hard mast.

Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

This squirrel is called by more nicknames than any other Wisconsin tree squirrel, including chatterbox, boomer, chickaree, and pine squirrel. Red squirrels are tiny, weighing in at only 5 to 9 ounces and measuring 11 to 14 inches in length. You can mistake it for any other species thanks to its small size, prominent ears, and reddish fur coat. 

Its cinnamon-colored bushy tail has black-tipped fur. During summer, the red squirrel develops a distinct black lateral line that separates the reddish-brown upper side from its white underparts, and during winter, its fur coat brightens, and the line disappears. Both sexes look the same, and unlike the gray squirrels, color mutations are rare.

Red squirrels exist in mixed and coniferous forests all over the northern two-thirds of the state of Wisconsin. They extend up to Sauk County to the south, and a few are scattered within the Madison area. They enjoy feeding on pine seeds, pine cones, fruits, acorns, fungi, mushrooms, nuts, and berries.

Flying Squirrel (Glaucomis Volans – Southern Flying squirrel, Glaucomys Sabrinus – Northern Flying squirrel)

These are the smallest tree squirrels in Wisconsin. The northern species is about 10 to 15 inches long, including its 4 – 6 inch tail. The southern flying squirrel weighs 1.5 to 5.0 pounds and measures 7 to 10 inches in length. 

The two species are distinctly different in color and size. The northern species is a bit redder on its upperparts, and the fur on its belly is white-tipped. The southern species has a white underside. Both sexes look identical.

These squirrels cannot fly but instead glide from one tree to another with the help of a special membrane that extends from their front legs to their back feet. They are nocturnal, so humans rarely catch sight of them. 

While the northern species prefer heavily wooded mature maple and birch woodlands, the southern species live in fully grown forests with hickory and oak trees. They sometimes find a home in abandoned nests and birdhouses. They enjoy eating nuts, moths, beetles, and fruits.


Finding a squirrel breeder in Wisconsin may not be easy because keeping pet squirrels is highly discouraged, even though the state law indicates that you can have a ground squirrel or red squirrel without a permit. 

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