How to Care for an Adult Squirrel
Learn everything you need to know in order to house, feed, nurture, and entertain an adult squirrel. For additional help, please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator like the Squirrel Refuge.
Most species of squirrels, as a general rule, do not make good pets; nonetheless, some states allow for ownership of certain types of squirrels. It is important to know the laws in your state. As with any pet, you need to ensure the animal has been gently handled, purchased from a reputable dealer, bred in a legal captive breeding program (not taken from its mom in the wild to be your pet), and has been inspected by a veterinarian.
The food choices will depend on the genus of squirrel you are caring for as there are differences in needs for ground squirrels, flying squirrels, and tree squirrels. This site is primarily focused on the needs of tree squirrels; however, much of the information is appropriate for all species of squirrel. For additional information specific to ground squirrels and flying squirrels, please review the links to the right.
The 9 Basic Needs of Captive Squirrels
Free access to clean water
Wholesome, fresh and palatable nutrition, including vitamin and mineral supplementation necessary for proper functioning, tooth & bone growth
Appropriate materials for gnawing - for entertainment, nutrition and proper tooth wear
Suitable housing and nesting materials, including a place to exhibit normal ‘hiding’ behaviors
Mental stimulation and socialization appropriate for the species to avoid stereotypical behavior often seen in captive animals, such as pacing, chewing on bars, running in circles and doing back flips.
Ample room and opportunity to play, exercise, and engage in normal squirrel behavior
Access to normal lighting conditions for the time of year (preferably natural sunshine)
Ready access to qualified veterinary care as needed
A lifetime commitment from you to provide all of these needs with love, patience, compassion and commitment - even when your pet is no longer the sweet baby you came to love and is now behaving like a wild animal. Once a squirrel has lost its natural instincts and fear of people it can never be released. If surrendered to a rehabilitator, their only legal option is usually euthanasia!
Squirrel Care Resources
Safe diet and feeding tips for adult squirrels.
The housing needs of squirrels of all ages.
Common squirrel illnesses and injuries and their care.