Squirrels are extremely cute creatures and no doubt most people would love to keep them as pets but as adorable as they maybe they are not like kittens and puppies. At the end of the day they are still wild animals and though some people might claim that keeping a squirrel is not a very difficult task ;it is not for most people. Baby squirrels can be kept as pets but once they become adults they can very troublesome. Wild animals are not supposed to be kept in cages, they are supposed to live in forests and be free. If you ever come across an injured squirrel then don’t hesitate in bringing it home and taking care of it but don’t purposely try to catch hold of a squirrel just because you wish to keep one. It will be disastrous for both you and the squirrel.
Squirrels are not social but solitary animals and rarely rely on anybody for food, protection and companionship. Baby or young squirrels need to stay around other squirrels until they are atleast two months old in order to learn squirrel behaviour. After they have completed eight weeks of their life they won’t accept other squirrels. If you get a squirrel home and then leave it into the wild after a certain age it will surely die because it has not learnt to fend for itself and can’t even protect itself from predators. Most importantly a domesticated squirrel will not be able to distinguish between friend and foe. By now we know that squirrels won’t accept other squirrels after eight weeks but the truth is that squirrels don’t even accept any other human after that age. This means if you go out of town you won’t be able to hire a sitter for your squirrel. Your pet squirrel will barely learn to tolerate you in a few months but its attitude towards another person will never be like its attitude towards you.
Squirrels are very choosy when it comes to their living areas and won’t accept a change in surrounding lightly. They might get aggressive or stressed and this might lead to seizures and consequent death. We all know that puppies chew on everything when they are teething but squirrels have teeth which grow throughout their life and they chew on anything and everything they can find- walls, curtains, furniture and this never stops. It will be like having a teething puppy forever. You can’t even teach a squirrel what to eat and what not to. Squirrels don’t have retractable claws like cats do which means they can do more harm to drapes, furniture and the human skin even when they don’t intend to. They have extremely sharp nails meant for climbing, grasping and jumping. They cannot be easily trained and you can never teach them to use the litter box and in most cases when squirrels feel anxious or threatened they are most likely to turn own their owners.
Squirrels require a nutritious and balanced diet to remain healthy. Their diet is not easy to provide, it is time consuming and expensive. You will have to spend hours looking for food, cooking meals rich in calcium and buying and preparing insects as that your pet squirrel doesn’t suffer from any deficiency diseases. Squirrels love to eat junk food and they will do anything to get their hands on them. They are like children and will prefer to eat junk food instead of their meals. They don’t know what is right for them and what is not so it will be your responsibility to see that your squirrel doesn’t eat junk food but healthy and nutritious food. Squirrels have a lot of energy and need huge cages with lots of space. They also need to spend ample amount of time outside the cage; atleast two to three hours on a daily basis.
No doubt squirrels are neat and tidy creatures but they only like to keep their surroundings clean, they don’t really care about other places. They throw anything they find dirty onto the floor be it nut shells, wilted fruits and vegetables, uneaten food, partially eaten insects and other wastes and since they never learn to use the litter box your entire house is like a litter box to them.
Only if an accident or disease renders them unfit to adapt or stay in the wild only then should you think about adopting the squirrel. Even then people who rehabilitate animals and release them into the wild should be permitted to take care of the squirrel. You can show your love for squirrels by not trying to domesticate them and letting them live freely in the wild. By letting squirrels live in the wild we are protecting them in a way. Capturing them and stuffing them in cages only makes them aggressive and anxious. They are wild animals and they do not belong in a cage. To quote the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association, “A captive squirrel is constantly looking for a way out and that behaviour cannot be changed.” Squirrels can live up to fifteen years so before getting one home and raising it make sure you can take care of it for that long. Once a squirrel starts living around people; the chances of it surviving in the wild become negligible. So you can’t leave it in the wild when you want to. Once you get a squirrel home you will have to take care of it for life.