How to Keep a Pet Squirrel

Four Parts:HousingKeeping the squirrel warmFeeding the squirrelKeeping the squirrel healthy

Keeping a squirrel is a big job. You will usually only find yourself in this situation with a baby squirrel as the adults are a little too high strung.


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    Make sure you know about the legality in your area. Owning most varieties of squirrels is illegal in some regions. If you are caught with an illegal pet, the animal will be seized and euthanized and you will be fined and possibly face jail time. If you aren't caught and the animal becomes sick, most vets will not treat wildlife, leaving you with almost no option.
    • Before investing time, money, and a piece of your heart in a squirrel, consider volunteering with your local rehabber to see if a squirrel is right for you. If you still feel that owning a squirrel would fulfill you, check with all vets in your area to see if they will treat one and check all government agencies to ensure your little friend won't be harmed because of your actions.

Part 1

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    Build a suitable cage. Having some climbing room and some wood (preferably a stick of hardwood) to gnaw on for the squirrel. This is important for the squirrel's dental health and necessary for teething young. The Author made one out of 2 round pieces of wood, held together with 2X4's on the inside, wrapped in chicken wire. Keep in mind that squirrels need a lot of room and if they are not going to be allowed to roam around the house (which is not a good idea if there is anything you don't want chewed, such as electrical wires), you may want to consider an outdoor cage. However, this may eventually lead to wilding-up, which is when the natural instincts of the squirrel kicks in and he wishes to return to the wild.
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    Make sure to staple the chicken wire tight and secure to avoid gaps or sharp points. Build nest boxes, buy lots of fluffy hammocks, cubes, and other lounging areas to give the squirrel lots of choices for bedding. Make sure there is plenty of bedding and a place for it to snuggle in like a pouch. Another idea is a bedding pouch, such as the type you would use for a ferret.

Part 2
Keeping the squirrel warm

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    If you're raising a baby, contact a rehabber for guidance. Too many things can and will go wrong without guidance that may lead to death for the baby. If a rehabber can't be found, is a fantastic resource. A baby squirrel cannot thermoregulate itself, meaning that it cannot stay warm without assistance. Put a heating pad half underneath whatever you are keeping it in, but make sure it does not exceed 100 degrees. Make sure the heating pad is underneath half of the enclosure, so that the baby has a cool half to move to in case the baby gets too hot.
    • A good internal temperature for the squirrel itself is between 98 and 102 degrees, which means it should feel warm to the touch, warmer than your hand. A cold baby can die very easily, so this is very important.
    • A cold baby can not digest food as well as a warm baby. Never feed a cold squirrel.

Part 3
Feeding the squirrel

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    Feed your squirrel properly.
    • Food for adults: store bought rodent block such as Harlan Teklad, Mazuri or Henry's Healthy Blocks are great along with fresh vegetables and limited fruits and an occasional nut as a treat.
    • For babies: Fox Valley milk replacement is a must. Check for formula updates. Often, formula recipes change and will cause babies to die. Before purchasing formula, check to see which one is recommended. Feed this to the squirrel using a 1cc syringe slowly as babies will often aspirate milk out through their nose while sucking which could lead to pneumonia.
      • For ages 2-3 weeks: feed 5 times a day, 5% - 7% of the squirrel's body weight. (Squirrel's weight in grams x 5% = amount to feed. Example 100 grams x 5% = 5ccs each feeding)
      • Age 4-5 weeks: feed 4-5 times a day. You can stop night feedings if the baby is doing well.
      • Age 6-7 weeks: feed 4 times a day.
      • Age 8 weeks: feed 3 times a day. Begin weaning onto small pieces of solid food such as blocks and veggies. Do not start with nuts.
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    Give the squirrel water. Healthy squirrels will generally drink from a water bottle, such as the type you would use for rabbits and other rodents. If they do not drink from the bottle, set out a shallow dish for them to drink from, but be aware that they may make a mess.
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    Offer blocks and unlimited healthy veggies every day. This will keep away the painfully fatal disease of Metabolic Bone Disease. Do not feed more than 1-2 small pieces of fruit and 1 nut a day.

Part 4
Keeping the squirrel healthy

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    Keep the squirrel away from infections. If someone in the house has a cold or a virus, keep them away from the squirrel, just to be safe. Wash your hands before and after feeding, touching or cleaning around the squirrel.
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    Keep any and all other pets away from the squirrel. Most pets have a natural instinct to kill the squirrel. Too many people have trusted their 'harmless' dog or cat only to come home with a house full of blood and a very much dead squirrel.
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    Avoiding too much physical contact with the squirrel will cause the squirrel to wild up. If you insist on keeping a wilding-up squirrel as a pet, realize that they will become very aggressive and antsy. They will chatter, growl, bark, snap, bite, and constantly run away from your OR even charge at you. If this happens, you will want to start the release process for the squirrel.
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    Take the squirrel to the vet for regular checkups.


  • Get your squirrels from a reputable breeder.
  • Get the food and care ideas from the breeder and fill your shopping list from the local pet store. Common foods will make exotic animals sick, e.g., skunks love cat food but it's too rich for them and can actually kill them.
  • The CDC does not consider small rodents to be a rabies risk in the United States.


  • Never try to tame a wild squirrel. Squirrels are mammals, and mammals may carry rabies among other potential diseases.
  • Do not feed a squirrel a kitten milk replacement, Hartz milk replacer, etc. Use only Esbilac puppy milk replacer. It is the closest formula to squirrel milk and anything else can give your squirrel diarrhea (which can kill due to malnutrition) and cause growth problems.
  • This is not a guide to the rehabilitation of sick or orphaned squirrels. If you've found a baby squirrel outside, please read the information here or here and locate a wildlife rehabilitator.

Things You'll Need

  • Large roomy cage
  • Accessories

Article Info

Categories: Wildlife