Keeping a Squirrel as Pet
Having a squirrel as pet can be very difficult because they are wild by nature but it can be rewarding if you’re able to tame one. In televisions, they are sometimes considered as pests, but its friendly appearance actually shows that they can be household pets as well. Depending on the species, squirrels can grow up to 6 or sometimes 12 inches, and weighs around 1 to 2 pounds.
Choosing a squirrel
Get a young squirrel preferably less than 7 weeks old. If you find that the teeth are yellow, it means that the squirrel is old and quite impossible to tame. Trying to tame such a creature is often difficult because it may have formed some habits such as biting when suddenly alarmed. Do not capture a squirrel which that has already passed infancy and experienced freedom of life in the wild as this will only make it depressed.
Preparing your cage
The cage where you plan to confine the squirrel should be at least 6’ high by 4’ square because squirrels are very active and agile animals. Keeping them in a small cage or too crowded will only turn them violent in the end. So, make sure that your cage is roomy and cozy. Some ideas to decorate the cage would be:
- A sleeping box made of wood or card box, with fleece or old t-shirts (not towels)
- A revolving wheel , as this will allow your squirrel to exercise and keep healthy
- A tree branch, fixed firmly and leading to the sleeping box
- Some hay or wood shavings on the ground for the natural feel
- If large enough, a trapeze so that it can swing around and perform summersaults
- A washable hammock at the ceiling of the cage
- Stuffed toys of their own size (not stuffed with beans, and have its eyes, nose removed), where it may sometimes wrestle, chew, throw it around, being thrown back, etc…
Caring for your squirrel
Clean the cage at least once a week. Wash the fleece and cloths if you use them. You may change the hay or wood shavings every quarter or half yearly. Also, check if its feet are dirty. The eyes should look bright and teeth white, otherwise take them to a local veterinary to get it checked.
Feed them with a variety of fruits and nuts (non oily ones) and occasionally you may also give it cooked meat. They would also eat wheat, bread and potatoes. When they’re still young, it may find the shell of some nuts hard to break. In that case, you need to break it for them. After 3 weeks, leave them without food for 1 day because they tend to hide their food, and this will allow them to dig them up and consume them.
If you would like the squirrel to be able to get friendly with you, play with it often while they are awake. Feeding them their food piece by piece by handing it over with your hand will build a strong impression that you are caring for them. And if you would like, take it to your room, close the doors and windows and let them roam free. You can also take them for walks with a leash or harness.
By being kind and gently caring for your squirrel each day will eventually turn it into a friendly and loving creature. I’ve heard stories where these creatures would just sit quietly on its master’s shoulder while he walks around the street and even while eating lunch. However, if they ever turn wild and vicious, it probably means that they find staying in the cage is too stressful and boring. In that case, you can add more toys, but it is advisable to release them back to nature.