Pet squirrels are difficult to train and domesticate. In this article, the advantages, training, and warnings regarding the squirrels will be discussed.
Squirrels are the animals of the wild. You might have seen one of the critters roaming around in your neighborhood parks. One might cross your path while you are out on a walk on a sunny morning. While watching them roam, did you ever have the idea to have one of them as a pet? Sounds outrageous, but squirrels can be made domesticated pets with proper training.
Before getting into the training, you should have the basic information about this creature.
Type of Squirrels
Squirrels fall into the family of rodents. The family includes the following members:
- Tree squirrels
- Ground squirrels
- Flying squirrels
- Prairie dogs
These are your everyday run-of-the-mill squirrels. They live on the trees; that is why they are named tree squirrels. While other squirrels live in burrows, their habitat is the tree. Their biggest food source is tree nuts. They are also the most persistent rodents and are sometimes seen stealing food from the bird feeders.
They live on universities campuses or in neighborhood parks. They are not afraid of humans; instead, they are clever because they recognize humans as an available food source.
These squirrels differ from the tree squirrels in their choice of habitat. They burrow into the ground; therefore, they got their name. They are medium-sized and smaller than the marmots. Their habitat consists of pastures, open fields, golf courses, cemeteries, parks, and hillsides. Their diet also includes insects, eggs, or other small animals besides nuts and fungi.
They can sit on their hind legs and become fully erect when danger is near.
You might recall the famous ‘chipmunks’ movie. How cute those chipmunks were!
Unlike other squirrels, chipmunks are small and stripped. Their diet includes nuts, fungi, grass, small fruits, insects, arthropods, worms, and small animals. They start to store foods at the beginning of autumn and remain burrowed in their homes till spring with the stored food. The natural habitat of chipmunks is in the forest.
Marmots are the heaviest among the squirrel family. They are herbivores. They are short and quite adept at digging holes.
Can you keep Squirrels as Pets?
You can keep squirrels as pets or not largely depends upon your state. Many species of squirrels are illegal to keep as house pets. At the very least, only one species is legal. If you acquire the license to keep a pet squirrel, you should have a large space so that they can play in the open area. Also, they will need vertical space to climb the walls just like they climb trees in nature.
Type of Squirrels that can be kept as Pets
Following are the squirrels that can be best kept as pets:
- Grey Squirrels
- Flying Squirrels
Among these flying squirrels are great pets. They bond with their caretakers and are considered highly affectionate. Furthermore, they are native to The United States; you can check your state laws before keeping them in your house.
Factors to Consider Before Getting a Pet
These two major factors should be considered before getting a pet squirrel:
Is It Legal?
Most states deemed it illegal to keep a squirrel as a pet. States like Hawaii and California forbid having a pet squirrel. Before you want to adopt your pet squirrel, it is best to consult with a vet. They are well-versed in animal state laws. You might stumble upon a squirrel in your backyard, so contact the wildlife department and do not try to take care of it by yourself.
Prepare to Care
Once you are committed to having a squirrel as a pet, it’s a lifetime commitment. They will lose their natural survival instinct and will lean on you for support.
Prepare your home for the arrival of the new pet. As you might have guessed, they love to climb and roam around. So, you should give them enough space to roam around freely. If you have any objects that might hinder their climbing, remove it from your house. Separate other pets from the squirrels if there are any till squirrels have acclimated.
Your typical cages will not work for the squirrels. Cages for rabbits and chickens will allow the squirrels to run away. Furthermore, you can keep the cage outside or inside so that they can be protected from predators. The cage should be two feet on all sides. It should be taller also.
Food for the Pet
The following items are the best food that will fill the nutrition needs of your pet:
It is up to the caretakers to provide their pet with the required nutrients; otherwise, it might get obese, which is not good for the squirrel.
Training the Squirrels
While the squirrels are considered smart, training them is complicated. First of all, you have to train the squirrels for the toilet. You might even have to stimulate the critter to use the bathroom. For this to happen, you can use a wet ball till they start to pass feces and urine by themselves. Once that has been accomplished, you can train the squirrel on a litter box. You can also put the squirrel’s feces in the litter box so that the squirrel can associate the smell with it.
Squirrels are difficult to train. They will develop good behavior over time, but unlike other animals, they will require more time. You can reinforce a good attitude with treats just like you do with dogs. You should keep in mind that bad behavior is not found in the dictionary of squirrels. They will not understand punishment. Therefore instead of punishing them for something, remove that item from their general vicinity.
Pet squirrels are gaining more popularity with time as more and more people are interested in having these animals in their houses. It might help to remain in contact with a vet during the training sessions as they know more than an average person.