Most people who have spent any amount of time watching squirrels are likely to fall in love – they are so cute and appealing, very funny, and very adorable. It’s not surprising that a lot of people would like to keep squirrels as pets, but in many parts of the United States, you need to be careful.
Squirrels are not considered good pets by some, and keeping them has been made illegal in many places. So, can you keep a squirrel in Louisiana? Not a Louisiana resident? Check out which states allow squirrels as pets.
Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel?
According to The Law Library of Louisiana, section 118-7, no person should keep wild or exotic animals as pets. Section 14-20 squirrels fall under the list of exotic or vicious animals.
There isn’t much information available about whether you can or can’t legally keep a squirrel in Louisiana if you find or rescue a baby squirrel. It’s always best to check with local government authorities to know whether or not you need to comply with local or state laws before you take a squirrel in.
You may find that this is dependent on other factors, such as the squirrel requiring rehabilitation. You may also need to look into how to acquire a squirrel legally, as it is illegal to take them from the wild in many places – and this could be the case in parts of Louisiana.
If you find a squirrel in urgent need of help, you may have to take it in first and check with authorities later. Still, you should prioritize this check as soon as possible, as, in some states, it is not legal to keep a squirrel for any amount of time, even for the sake of the squirrel’s health.
Do You Need A Permit To Own a Pet Squirrel?
It’s not clear if you need a permit to keep a squirrel; this is again something that a local official may be able to offer advice about. As there are several types of squirrels in Louisiana, you should make sure you check the specifics and ask about whichever type of squirrel you are most interested in.
Some squirrels may require permits, while others may not. If you find a baby squirrel or any other injured wildlife, contact the Louisiana Wildlife and Fishery Department on this site. They specifically state it is illegal to possess wildlife that is native to North America as pets, trade, or etc.
Louisiana does not offer any type of permits for the care of rehabbing or rescuing any type of wildlife animals. If you see anyone violating these rules and has captured a squirrel as a pet, you can report violations to NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.
What Types of Squirrels Are In the Area?
Like other states, Louisiana is home to several types of squirrels. Below are the three most common types found in the state.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
The eastern gray is one of the common squirrels in Louisiana. It is quite a large squirrel, measuring between 16 and 21 inches and weighing up to 600 grams. They often live around six years in the wild but can survive for 12 years if they are particularly good at avoiding predators.
Many people get annoyed with eastern grays as they are particularly fond of bird feeders, and they are not easily deterred or afraid of people.
This species is considered invasive in many parts of the world but is actually native to Louisiana and does not present a problem to the other squirrels there.
The flying squirrel is another inhabitant of Louisiana, though you will only see the southern flying squirrel, not the northern one. This is a small squirrel, only about 10 inches at its longest, and it jumps from tree to tree, using flaps of skin between its arms and legs to glide over large distances.
They are common but are rarely seen as they are nocturnal. However, they also love bird feeders, and if you have a camera with infra-red light, you might see them visiting your feeder after dark.
Last, there’s the fox squirrel, a large and widespread squirrel that is particularly cute and appealing. As its name suggests, it has a bushy red tail, and it can be over 27 inches long. It weighs up to a kilo!
The fox squirrel is able to live up to 12 years in the wild, although captive squirrels have lived to see 18, which is quite an achievement for such a small mammal. They are the biggest squirrel in Louisiana and are highly adaptable to all sorts of different environments.
Fox squirrels generally forage on the ground, but they are still nimble climbers. They thrive in nature and also in populated areas, where they readily take food from bird feeders to fuel their active lives.
How To Get A Pet Squirrel In Louisiana
It is illegal to acquire a pet squirrel in Louisiana. If you find an abandoned or injured baby or even an adult – contact the Louisiana Marine Mammal Strandings at 877-942-5343. They will send someone out to pick up the squirrel so they can care for it and release it back into the wild.
If you’re interested in rehabbing a squirrel, keep up with the Louisiana laws. Rules and regulations change on a regular basis and eventually, you may be able to rehabilitate and do a soft release so that the squirrel can socialize with its own kind but still has a safe space with you.
A baby squirrel may be better able to cope with living with humans, but be aware that it is unlikely to survive alone if it has been brought up to depend on you.
If you have a baby, it may be best to work with a rehabilitation center to ensure it gains the skills it needs to survive independently if necessary.
You may also be able to purchase pet squirrels in Louisiana.
Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In Louisiana?
At the time of this writing, it is illegal to keep squirrels as pets in Louisiana. There are no legal breeders in Louisiana, as they prohibit the selling and trading of wild and exotic animals.
I realize that some people will still be tempted to buy a squirrel, even if it’s no legal. Make sure you understand the laws and the types of fines you could face if you’re caught with one.
Suppose you do buy a squirrel, avoid buying squirrels from poorly monitored social media sites or unreliable adverts. You don’t know where the squirrel has come from or what condition it will be in. If you are getting your squirrel from a breeder, make sure it has been cared for and treated well before you buy it.
You should always check your legal position before taking on an exotic animal like a squirrel. Make sure you know what happens if you are no longer able to care for it (can you gift it or re-sell it?) and under what stipulations you are allowed to keep it.
While it seems you can keep squirrels as pets in Louisiana, you should keep up to date with current laws and check whether your local government has any regulations or requirements that you need to be aware of.