Is it possible to have squirrels as pets? This is one of the most famous questions that are asked to veterinarians. The vets will answer you in the negative as it is mostly useless to capture and pet an adult squirrel. They are born in the wilderness and hence are tough to train within a domestic environment.
However, there are times when baby squirrels are often rescued from the wilderness as they are abandoned by their parents. Squirrel breeders sell squirrel babies as pets for the pet owners who are willing to grab the challenge. Nevertheless, before you make any decision, it is always a smart idea to find out what it takes to raise a healthy baby squirrel as a pet. They can never be docile as the other pets and hence you’ll need to provide extra care. Let’s take a quick look at the few tips to keep in mind.
Do your research on owning a squirrel
Are you sure about the laws in your locality?
Get in touch with your local municipal office for more details on the laws regarding ownership of pets in your area. In all municipalities, owning a pet squirrel isn’t legal and in some other areas, owners may need a permit. It is best to educate yourself before getting a pet squirrel to avert fines and sudden surrendering of your pets.
Will you get a vet in your locality to treat your squirrel?
Before you invest money and time and a part of your heart in your squirrel, check with all the veterinarians in your locality to know whether they can treat your pet. Enquire whether or not they have experience in handling exotic and wildlife animals. On the contrary, you can get in touch with an experienced wildlife rehabilitator for guidance and advice about treating your pet squirrel.
Do you know the right age to adopt a squirrel?
After they cross 9 weeks of age, squirrels usually have a tough time in getting habituated with strangers. If you’re thinking of petting an abandoned squirrel, ensure that the squirrel is young to trust and accept you as its parent. For a proper assessment of the age of a squirrel, you have to get in touch with a vet.
Is it okay to leave the squirrel in the wild?
Whenever you come across a baby squirrel that is uninjured or abandoned by its mom or that which is on its own, leave it alone for few hours. Give its mother sometime to find it and you should supervise on the small squirrel from a distance to make sure it survives. Take home the squirrel in case you think it is injured or sick or its mother is dead or when it faces danger from some other pet.
What to feed your squirrel
Get rodent blocks for your squirrel
To make sure your squirrel gets proper nutrition, get rodent blocks from the pet store. These blocks comprise of the best nutritional elements that your squirrel requires and this makes feeding it simple enough. In case your pet squirrel doesn’t show enough interest in eating rodent blocks, coat them with peanut butter to make them sweeter. Make sure it has at least 3-4 blocks in a day and throw off any uneaten blocks to prevent germs.
Offer a constant source of water to the squirrel
As a pet parent, you have to ensure that the squirrel has easy access to fresh and clean water. Dehydration is something that is extremely scary for young and adult squirrels, especially in the hot summer months. Refill the dish of water everyday if you think your squirrel is too thirsty.
Add on supplements to your squirrel’s diet
Although it is true that rodent blocks can account for 80% of the diet of the squirrel, you may even supplement its diet with several other things. You may select foods that they can eat naturally like insects or fruits. Remove any fresh food that is uneaten from the dish of the squirrel to prevent any kind of bacteria growth. By adding calcium supplements, you can strengthen its teeth and bones.
Control the intake of corn, seeds and nuts
Although it is tempting enough to feed a squirrel with large amount of corn, seeds and nuts, they aren’t healthy choices and can lead to obesity. You should consider these foods as candy and hence limit them or serve them in moderation. Such treats should be given in rather small quantities and you should instead fill their diet on other healthier foods. Over-consumption of nuts and seeds can lead to nutritional disorders.
Maintaining a healthy and safe squirrel
Keep them away from other pets
If you wish to keep your pet squirrel safe, always keep them at a safe distance from cats and dogs. It is usually tough to foretell a squirrel’s behavior and hence the most well-trained pet might cause the squirrel to harm in self-defense. They are often prone to biting and they can also harm other pets that are threatened and cornered.
Socialize with your squirrel
Try to handle your squirrel from a tender age so that it can gradually get accustomed to human tough. Avoid too much of cuddling once your squirrel reaches 6 months of age as their nails and teeth grow sharper with age. When your squirrel is happy, it will cause less harm to other pets and individuals.
Take the squirrel to the vet for checkups
Make sure you bring your squirrel for check-ups once in a year at an experienced vet. The vet’s directions for care, diet and treatment can be followed closely. You should bring your squirrel to a vet instantly if it shown any potential signs of illness.
Active squirrels that suddenly leap on your lap can all of a sudden lead to scratches, cuts and hence you have to be cleaned and disinfected. So, if you wish to pet a squirrel, you have to put in your consistent effort. Consult a rehabilitator for help if you want to release your pet squirrel into the woods.