Can You Have A Pet Squirrel In The Uk?

can you get a pet squirrel uk

Are you tired of the usual cats and dogs as pets? How about a friendly and playful squirrel as your new companion? While it may sound unusual, keeping a pet squirrel is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. However, before you rush to get one, there are important considerations and regulations to be aware of. In this article, we will explore whether you can legally keep a pet squirrel in the UK and what it takes to provide a suitable home for these adorable little creatures.

Characteristics Values
Size Small
Lifespan 10-20 years
Diet Nuts, fruits, vegetables
Housing Large, secure enclosure
Behavior Active, curious, intelligent
Legal restrictions Illegal to keep as pets
Health concerns Zoonotic diseases, stress-related health issues
Socialization Requires a lot of socialization
Cost Expensive to care for
Maintenance Requires regular grooming and veterinary care


Keeping a pet squirrel can be an appealing idea for some individuals, as they are intelligent and adorable creatures. However, before considering acquiring a pet squirrel, it is crucial to understand the legal implications surrounding such a decision. In the United Kingdom, the legality of keeping a pet squirrel depends on certain factors.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 regulates the possession and trade of wild animals in the UK. Under this legislation, it is illegal to keep certain species of squirrels without a license. These species include the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), which is native to the UK, and the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), which is an invasive species.

The red squirrel is protected by law in the UK due to its declining population and conservation efforts. It is illegal to catch, harm, or possess red squirrels without a license granted by a relevant authority, such as Natural England. Therefore, it is not legal to keep a pet red squirrel as a private individual in the UK.

On the other hand, the grey squirrel is not protected by law and considered an invasive species. They were introduced to the UK in the 19th century and have since caused significant ecological damage, particularly to the native red squirrel population. Due to their destructive nature, it is generally not recommended to keep grey squirrels as pets. However, it is not explicitly illegal to keep a pet grey squirrel in the UK.

It is crucial to note that keeping a pet squirrel requires specialized care and knowledge. Squirrels are highly active and require ample space to climb and explore. Proper housing, nutrition, and a stimulating environment are vital to their well-being. Therefore, keeping a pet squirrel is not advisable for inexperienced or unprepared individuals.

Even if it is legal to keep a pet squirrel in the UK, it is essential to consider the ethical aspect of confinement and domestication. Squirrels are wild animals and have evolved to live in natural environments. Domestication may not guarantee their happiness and could potentially harm their physical and mental health.

In conclusion, it is illegal to keep a pet red squirrel in the UK without a license due to the species' protected status. Grey squirrels, being an invasive species, can be kept as pets, but it is not recommended due to their destructive nature and the potential harm they pose to the native red squirrel population. Regardless of legality, responsible pet ownership requires careful consideration of the animal's welfare and suitability for domestication.


What are the requirements and regulations for owning a pet squirrel in the UK?

Owning a pet squirrel can be a unique and rewarding experience. However, it is important to understand the requirements and regulations in the UK before bringing one into your home. From obtaining the necessary permits to ensuring their welfare, there are several important factors to consider.

First and foremost, it is crucial to understand that not all species of squirrels are legal to keep as pets in the UK. The most common species that are allowed are red squirrels and grey squirrels. Red squirrels are native to the UK, while grey squirrels are considered invasive and can only be kept under certain conditions.

To legally own a pet squirrel, you will need to obtain a license or permit from the appropriate authorities. In the UK, this is typically granted by a local council or wildlife agency. The process may involve completing an application form, providing documentation such as proof of housing and insurance, and potentially undergoing an inspection of your premises.

It is also important to ensure that you have the appropriate housing and facilities for your pet squirrel. Squirrels are highly active animals and require plenty of space to climb, exercise, and explore. A large, secure enclosure that can mimic their natural habitat is essential. This should include plenty of branches, platforms, and hiding places for enrichment.

In addition to providing a suitable enclosure, you will need to provide a healthy and balanced diet for your squirrel. This may include a combination of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and specialized pellets. It is important to research the dietary needs of your specific species of squirrel to ensure their nutritional requirements are met.

Regular veterinary care is also vital for the health and well-being of your pet squirrel. Finding a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals or small mammals can ensure that your squirrel receives the appropriate medical attention and vaccinations. It is also advisable to schedule regular check-ups to monitor their overall health and address any potential issues.

It is worth noting that owning a pet squirrel is a long-term commitment. Squirrels can live for up to 10 years or more in captivity, so it is important to consider their lifespan and the responsibilities that come with it. This includes providing mental stimulation, social interaction, and a safe and comfortable environment for their entire life.

In summary, owning a pet squirrel in the UK requires obtaining the necessary permits or licenses, providing a suitable enclosure, offering a balanced diet, and ensuring regular veterinary care. It is crucial to research and understand the specific requirements and regulations for your chosen species of squirrel. By meeting these requirements and providing the necessary care, owning a pet squirrel can be a rewarding experience.


Where can I purchase a pet squirrel in the UK?

Squirrels are fascinating creatures and it's no wonder why some people would want to keep them as pets. However, it is important to note that owning a squirrel as a pet in the UK is not as simple as going to a pet store and buying one. In fact, it is illegal to sell or keep a grey squirrel as a pet in the UK due to their classification as a non-native invasive species.

Grey squirrels were first introduced to the UK from North America in the 1870s and have since caused significant damage to the native red squirrel population. As a result, they are now protected by law, and it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild or keep one as a pet without a special license.

So, where does this leave squirrel enthusiasts who want to own one as a pet? In the UK, red squirrels are the only species of squirrel that can legally be kept as pets, and even then, there are strict regulations in place. If you are considering getting a pet squirrel, here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Research: Before getting a pet squirrel, it is important to do your research and understand the responsibilities and care requirements involved in owning one. Squirrels have specific dietary, housing, and exercise needs that need to be met for their well-being.
  • Contact a licensed breeder: Once you have done your research and are confident about owning a pet squirrel, you can contact a licensed breeder who specializes in red squirrels. It is crucial to ensure that you are buying from a reputable and licensed breeder to ensure the health and welfare of the squirrel.
  • Apply for a license: Owning a red squirrel as a pet in the UK requires a specific license from the appropriate authorities. The license application process involves proving that you have adequate facilities, knowledge, and experience to care for the squirrel properly.
  • Prepare a suitable habitat: Squirrels require a spacious and secure enclosure that mimics their natural environment. This includes providing plenty of climbing opportunities, nesting boxes, and various toys and enrichment items.
  • Provide a proper diet: Squirrels have a varied diet that includes fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and occasional insects. It is essential to provide a balanced and nutritious diet to ensure their overall health.
  • Regular veterinary care: Like any pet, squirrels require regular veterinary care, including vaccinations and wellness checks. It is important to find a veterinarian experienced in treating squirrels or exotic animals.

It is worth mentioning that owning a pet squirrel is a significant commitment and should not be taken lightly. Squirrels are highly active and intelligent animals that require a lot of time, attention, and specialized care. They are not suitable pets for everyone, and it is crucial to make an informed decision before bringing one into your home.

Therefore, if you are considering owning a pet squirrel in the UK, it is recommended to thoroughly research the legal requirements and care needs before proceeding. It may be worth exploring alternative ways to enjoy squirrel-related activities, such as volunteering at local wildlife rehabilitation centers or supporting conservation efforts for native squirrel species.


What kind of care do pet squirrels need in terms of diet, housing, and exercise in the UK?

Keeping pet squirrels can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it's important to provide them with the proper care they need to thrive. In the UK, pet squirrels require specific attention when it comes to their diet, housing, and exercise needs.

Diet plays a crucial role in the overall health and well-being of pet squirrels. In the wild, squirrels are primarily herbivores and feed on a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Therefore, a well-balanced diet for pet squirrels should mimic their natural food sources. Some suitable foods for pet squirrels include almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, apples, carrots, and leafy greens. It's important to avoid feeding them foods that are high in sugar, such as chocolate and candy, as these can lead to obesity and other health issues.

In addition to a proper diet, housing is another essential aspect of squirrel care. Pet squirrels need a spacious and secure enclosure that allows for climbing and jumping. A large wire cage with multiple levels and perches is ideal for providing them with the necessary exercise and mental stimulation. It's important to ensure that the cage is escape-proof, as squirrels are excellent climbers and can easily find a way out if given the opportunity. Additionally, the enclosure should include nesting materials such as soft bedding or shredded paper to provide comfort for the squirrel.

Exercise is an integral part of a pet squirrel's daily routine. Squirrels are highly active animals that require plenty of physical stimulation to prevent boredom and promote overall health. Providing them with opportunities for climbing, swinging, and running will help fulfill their natural instincts. This can be achieved by installing branches, ropes, and exercise wheels inside their enclosure. Additionally, allowing supervised time outside of the cage, such as in a safe and secure outdoor enclosure, can provide squirrels with the opportunity to explore and exercise in a larger space.

It's worth noting that keeping pet squirrels in the UK requires a license under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. This is to regulate the keeping of certain wild animals as pets and ensure their welfare. Therefore, it's crucial to obtain the necessary permits and be knowledgeable about the specific requirements and regulations related to squirrel ownership in the UK.

In conclusion, pet squirrels in the UK require a carefully balanced diet consisting of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. They need a spacious and secure enclosure that allows for climbing and jumping, as well as plenty of opportunities for exercise. It's also essential to be aware of the legal requirements for owning pet squirrels in the UK. By providing the proper care and attention, pet squirrel owners can ensure that their furry friends lead happy and healthy lives.


Are there any risks or considerations to keep in mind when deciding to get a pet squirrel in the UK?

When it comes to getting a pet squirrel in the UK, there are a few risks and considerations that potential owners should keep in mind. While many people find squirrels to be adorable and interesting pets, they are not suitable for everyone, and it's important to understand the potential challenges and responsibilities before making the decision to bring one into your home.

First and foremost, it's important to note that keeping a squirrel as a pet in the UK is not legal. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to capture, disturb, or intentionally kill any wild squirrel, including the native red squirrel and the introduced grey squirrel. This law is in place to protect the population of native red squirrels, which have been heavily impacted by competition and disease transmission from the larger and more aggressive grey squirrels.

If a person is found to be keeping a squirrel as a pet in the UK, they can face legal consequences and the squirrel may be confiscated and relocated. Therefore, potential owners should carefully consider the legality and ethics of keeping a squirrel as a pet before making any decisions.

Even in places where keeping pet squirrels is legal, there are still several important considerations to keep in mind. Squirrels are highly energetic and intelligent animals that require a lot of mental and physical stimulation. They need spacious and secure enclosures that mimic their natural habitat, complete with climbing structures, nesting boxes, and areas to dig and forage for food.

Feeding a pet squirrel can also be challenging, as their diet should consist of a diverse range of foods including nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and insects. It's important to note that squirrels have specific dietary requirements and need a balanced diet to ensure their health and wellbeing.

Squirrels also have a strong instinct to chew, and they can cause damage to furniture, electrical wires, and other household items if they are not provided with appropriate chew toys and enrichment activities. They are also known to be escape artists, so it's essential to ensure that their enclosure is secure and escape-proof.

Furthermore, while squirrels can form strong bonds with their owners, they are still wild animals at heart and may not necessarily be affectionate or social in the same way that domesticated pets such as dogs or cats are. They require patience, time, and understanding to build trust and establish a bond with their owner.

In summary, while having a pet squirrel may seem appealing to some, it's important to consider the legal implications and the numerous challenges associated with keeping a squirrel as a pet. The welfare of the squirrel should always be the top priority, and potential owners should carefully evaluate their ability to provide a suitable environment and meet the complex needs of these animals before making any decisions.

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Frequently asked questions

In the UK, it is legal to own a pet squirrel, but there are specific regulations and requirements that must be met in order to keep them as pets. You will need to obtain a license from the appropriate wildlife authority and meet certain welfare criteria to ensure the squirrel's wellbeing.

In the UK, it is legal to own a Eurasian red squirrel or a grey squirrel as a pet. However, it is important to note that owning a grey squirrel is more common as they are easier to find and typically less expensive.

To obtain a pet squirrel in the UK, you will typically need to purchase one from a licensed breeder or obtain one through a licensed rescue organization. It is important to make sure the breeder or rescue organization is reputable and knowledgeable about squirrel care.

Pet squirrels require a varied diet consisting of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and occasionally insects or small amounts of meat. It is important to provide them with a large, secure enclosure with plenty of climbing opportunities and enrichment. Regular veterinary care and socialization are also essential for their well-being.

Yes, there are several special considerations for owning a pet squirrel in the UK. Since they are wild animals, they require a lot of space and mental stimulation. Squirrels are also notorious chewers, so you will need to provide them with plenty of appropriate chew toys to prevent them from damaging your furniture or belongings. Additionally, it is important to consider whether you have the time, resources, and commitment to provide proper care for a pet squirrel, as they can live for around 10-15 years in captivity.

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