Alabama state law prohibits anyone from owning a wild animal, and that includes squirrels. It also includes deer, rabbits, opossums, birds, beavers, and many other kinds of animals. So, if you want to take a squirrel out of your garden and tame it so you can have a new best friend, you’ll be breaking the law.
Is It Illegal to Have A Pet Squirrel In Alabama?
No, the Alabama Administrative Code lists birds as protected animals, making it illegal to keep them as captive (domesticated) pets. Pet squirrels are very popular and some people are always looking for ways to own one.
However, if you are a resident of Alabama, it’s important to be familiar with the laws, fines, permits before deciding to get a pet squirrel. Many people think they can keep a squirrel as a pet, but they are not familiar with the laws and end up getting in trouble.
What About A Rescued Squirrel?
Many people find squirrels in need of rescuing. Well, there it gets more complicated, but the state law is strict, and unless you do some research and follow the rules, you could find yourself in trouble with the authorities.
Is It Legal to Own a Pet Squirrel?
According to the Alabama Administrative Code, in Alabama, it is illegal to own a pet squirrel. However, many people seem to dispute that, which leads to questions of how one would acquire a squirrel that is not a wild squirrel.
Many people end up with squirrels as pets when they find injured or abandoned babies who need help and then find they can’t actually release them back into the wild when they are grown, as they have bonded with their humans.
In such cases, many people feel it is crueler to try and force them to return to their natural habitat instead of allowing them to continue living with the humans looking after them.
Opinion on the subject is very divided, however, and this can cause fierce debate.
Alabama state law says that wild animals must be released or euthanized if they cannot be released, which would mean that it isn’t legal to own a pet squirrel.
Do You Need A Permit To Own a Pet Squirrel?
Many states do require licenses for people who want to keep pet squirrels, but not all do. In Alabama, you can’t have a license to own a pet squirrel because Alabama law doesn’t allow people to keep squirrels as pets under any circumstances.
According to OutdoorAlabama, Wildlife Rehabilitators can get permits to care for mammals, but this must be done with the goal of releasing them. Even veterinarians and caring citizens cannot keep wildlife without having a permit to do so.
This can cause significant problems for rehabbers and rescues that attempt to take in squirrels that cannot be released (due to an injury that won’t heal, birth deformity, etc.).
Because they cannot get a permit or license to legally keep them in the long-term, they are faced with the difficult choice of putting the squirrel to sleep, or letting it take its chances in the wild, or keeping it illegally.
Many rescues will run afoul of this ruling and struggle to deal with injured squirrels that cannot survive alone but which could enjoy a good life with people’s support.
Unfortunately, there are no permits available to keep squirrels in the long term.
What Types of Squirrels Are In the Area?
There are three kinds of squirrels in Alabama, which may surprise you. Below are some of the most common squirrels found in Alabama.
The gray squirrel is the kind most people are familiar with and recognize best. It tends to be comfortable around people and is usually found in forests, though it has been known to make dreys in back gardens!
They spend a lot of time foraging for food, and many people will be familiar with the sight of them scrambling about in trees or bouncing around on the ground on their quest for nuts.
Southern Flying Squirrels
Second, there is the Southern flying squirrel, which is a very small species of squirrel. It is generally brown or gray and has a white underside. Unsurprisingly, it can “fly” (or glide) from tree to tree, which is how it tends to travel.
The Southern flying squirrel has large eyes and good night vision and is rarely seen by people as it is primarily nocturnal. It uses its tail to steer as it flies through the air. It is usually seen in heavy forests and is less common in populated places.
The fox squirrel is the largest species in Alabama. It is often yellowish in color, with a gray back and neck. Some are also known to be black and silver.
Fox squirrels are usually active during the day, and prefer to forage on the ground. They can weigh as much as 2 pounds, so they are certainly not a small squirrel, especially when compared with Southern flying squirrels!
How To Get A Pet Squirrel In Alabama
You can’t legally acquire a pet squirrel in Alabama, and you certainly can’t keep one. If you find a squirrel in need of rescuing, you would be best turning it over to a rehabber or rescue that has a license to deal with it and the facilities to help it.
If you are very keen to keep the squirrel yourself. You could apply for a permit, but remember that this must be done with a view to eventually releasing the squirrel; you cannot keep it long-term as a pet.
Can You Buy A Pet Squirrel In Alabama?
No: as pet squirrels are not legal to own, you cannot buy them. If you see adverts for pet squirrels, treat them with extreme caution and consider reporting them; they are not legal sales, and people should not be trading in wild squirrels. It is impossible to guarantee the squirrels’ welfare in these situations.
So, Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In Alabama?
No, it’s not legal to own a squirrel or any protected game birds in Alabama. According to the Code of Alabama Title 9, anyone caught possessing a pet squirrel is subject to a fine of no more than $500.
If it’s your dream to own a pet squirrel, Alabama is not a good place to do it. While many squirrels inhabit the state, laws against wild mammals’ ownership mean you would be breaking the law.
You may find that it is hard for officials to enforce this law, but it doesn’t change the law.
Other states allow the ownership of squirrels, so you could consider moving to one that does. Some of the states that allow pet squirrels are; South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee.
If you’re not ready to leave your home state, you could also become a regular safe haven for squirrels. You’ll need to legally set yourself up as a squirrel rescue and take little fur-balls in need of a temporary safe space.
However, you will have to release them when the time comes.