7 Ways Pet Squirrels Show Affection and Love

7 Ways Pet Squirrels Show Affection and Love

At one point in history, squirrels were the most popular pet in America. Today, there are exotic pet laws that prevent squirrel ownership. However, it’s not unusual to see a YouTube or social media post with someone sharing off their pet squirrel. People seem to love them as pets and you might be wondering how do squirrels show their affection?

Like other domesticated animals, squirrels will display their affection to their owners, once a bond has developed and they trust you. That said, it takes time but here are some signs that your pet squirrel loves you.

7 Ways Squirrels Show Their Affection and Love


When a dog licks your face, it’s considered a sign of affection but when a squirrel licks you, it has a different meaning.

Squirrels, particularly young ones use licking as a method of playing. Sever pet owners have said that squirrels are obsessed with their fingers and toes and are constantly licking them.

In the wild squirrels groom themselves or their siblings by scratching, licking, rubbing, and lightly gnawing. If your pet squirrel is constantly licking you, it’s not only a sign of affection, but they are trying to groom you.

They see it as a form of grooming, but you can consider it a “squirrel kiss.”

Don’t be surprised if the squirrel starts grooming your face, nose, and ears. As long as it is gentle, there’s nothing to worry about.


Squirrels are wild animals, therefore make several different sounds. Purring is one of the sounds they make both in the wild and in captivity. Some have said that it sounds like a cat purring, but much faster.

While others say that it is a constant purr that is rhythmic with its regular breathing.

According to several squirrel pet owners on this forum, captive squirrels will only purr when they are around someone they know and trust.

If your squirrel is constantly purring when they see you, it’s a good sign that they trust you. That said, you’ll want to make sure you pay attention to the purring sounds as some people have said it could be a sign of pneumonia.


Pet owners everywhere love it when their pet stares at them with loving eyes, at least I do when my dog looks at me. Once you’ve bonded with your pet squirrel, don’t be surprised if they are constantly staring at you.

Of course the continual staring could also mean they are trying to communicate with you since they know you are their caretaker. It could also mean they are watching your every move trying to determine whether it should run away or stay.

However, if you’ve had your squirrel for awhile and a bond has developed, it’s likely they are just staring at you because they love you.

In the wild, squirrels will stare at each other as part of their communication process but also to show affection. If your squirrel is constantly making eye contact with you, it’s a good sign that they see you as a friend.


When you first get your pet squirrel, they will need time to adjust to their new environment and you. Once they’ve become acclimated and trust you, they will want to cuddle with you.

That said, don’t expect them to want to cuddle right away as it could take weeks or even months for them to develop that level of trust.

However, if your squirrel is constantly trying to get close to you and be in physical contact, they likely trust you. So go ahead and rub them like you would a dog or cat, here’s a video of a women that rescued a squirrel named Belka.

Eat Out of Your Hand

While it is unusual to see a wild squirrel eating out of a humans hand in the wild. It’s not unusual for a captive squirrel to feel comfortable enough to eat out of your hand. Once your squirrel feels comfortable, it will want to eat in your presence and even out of your hand.

Some squirrel owners have said their squirrels will only eat when they are around. If you’ve had your pet for awhile and they are still skittish, it’s likely they don’t yet trust you.

If your squirrel hasn’t started eating out of your hand, then you’ll want to work on building the trust relationship. Start by talking to them in a soothing and friendly voice. It’s no different than talking to a dog or cat.

You could tempt them to eat out of your hand by feeding them foods they love such as; rodent blocks, low carbohydrate vegetables, nuts, seeds, and low sugar fruits. If you have a baby squirrel, they will likely need to be hand-fed as they are still learning how to eat solid foods.

Keep offering them the food, and eventually, they will learn that you’re their caretaker and will start to trust you.


Unlike humans, squirrels can’t tell us what they need, nibbling is a form of communication. In the wild, nibbling, biting and sharp claws are all a part of being a squirrel.

Squirrels have sharp incisors that continually grow and in the wild the rodents grind their teeth against each other or on sharp objects. When you first get your pet, they will likely nibble on you as part of the acclimation process.

If your squirrel is constantly nibbling on you, it’s a good sign that they trust you and see you as their caretaker. Just be careful some squirrels will bite too hard, which can be painful.

If your squirrel is constantly biting, you’ll want to teach them not to bite hard. This requires you to be firm and consistent every time the biting gets too aggressive.

Hand Grabbing

Another sign of affection is the continual hand grabbing. It’s uncertain why some squirrels do this, but many pet owners have said they don’t know if the squirrel is trying to play, being annoying, or looking for food.

That said, you can take it as a sign of affection since they continually want to touch or be near you. Most people who have experienced this have noticed that once the squirrel places your hands where he wants them, he will leave them alone and move onto something else.

So maybe it’s just your squirrel being a little OCD?

Final Word

Squirrels like cats and dogs love getting and receiving attention. Once your squirrel bonds with you, and understands you are their caregiver for food and water and other things, they will start showing you their gratitude in the form of affection and love.

While it’s still unsure of whether you’ll get unconditional love like a dog, it’s. not unusual to get licks (kisses), licking, playing time, nibbling, and purring when you’re squirrel is happy to see you.

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