Do squirrels make good pets?
Everyone has sat at a park or on your own porch and watched a fun loving Squirrel playing chase or burying their latest bit of food. Squirrels are members of the rodent (Rodentia) family that includes rat, mice, prairie dogs and a few hundred other species. They have roamed the earth for more than 50 million years and have learned to coexist with humans. Squirrels prefer nuts, fruits, and seeds, but will get in trash or eat scraps. They like to nest in the upper branches of trees or in hollow trees. Often when we frequently watch the same squirrel playing over and over, we might consider the possibility of making it a pet. Don’t be deceived by cute looks- a squirrel is a wild animal. Now you are thinking “what if I get a baby squirrel and raise it?” Make sure it is a commitment you want to make for up to 10 years-the possible life span of the squirrel.
Within the first few months of its life, a young squirrel will grow to accept humans. It will become affectionate and become totally dependent on you for food and shelter. As they mature around 6 months their claws and teeth are fully developed and dangerous. Squirrel’s incisors grow about 6’ per year. Even the most affectionate squirrel can unintentionally harm you, another pet or your belongings. Squirrels can also be aggressive by nature- during its mating cycles. The squirrel may not know that it’s being aggressive or hurting you they simply are not normally a safe animal for domestication from the wild.
Some people take a baby squirrel in and then at 6 months it’s time for the squirrel to be reintroduced to outside world. This idea is usually a death sentence for the squirrel. Rehab facilities have trained personnel who know how to raise a baby squirrel and give it to required skills it needs to live in the wild a squirrel cannot survive without these skills, such as foraging for food, dodging predators, marking its own territory and finding a possible mating partner. If you cannot do all these things, then do not force it out into the cold. If you don’t want to keep your furry friend any longer, you CAN teach old squirrel new tricks. It is never too late for a rehab facility to take your squirrel and teach it how to survive on its own.
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