Can Squirrels Be Domesticated?

Squirrels cannot be fully domesticated due to their natural instincts and specific needs. Being highly active creatures, they require specialized care that may be challenging for the average pet owner to provide. Unlike animals like dogs or cats, squirrels have not undergone the extensive selective breeding required for domestication, which spans multiple generations.

Reasons Squirrels Aren’t Domesticated

Some key factors that explain why squirrels aren’t domesticated are:

  • Legality: Keeping a squirrel as a pet may be illegal in some areas because they are classified as wild animals. It’s essential to check local regulations before considering a squirrel as a pet.
  • Wild nature: Squirrels are innately wild animals that haven’t gone through generations of selective breeding like domesticated animals such as cats or dogs. Their instincts and behaviors are adapted to life in the wild, which can make them challenging to manage within a home setting.
  • Potential risks: Domesticating squirrels may present various risks, such as bites or scratches from these animals. Since they are not acclimated to humans, they may also experience stress or anxiety in a home environment, leading to unpredictable behaviors and potential harm to themselves or their owners.

The Behavior and Needs of Squirrels

Understanding the behavior and needs of squirrels is crucial in realizing why they make unsuitable pets. These animals have specific habitat, diet, and activity requirements that are challenging to meet in a home environment.

  • Squirrel behavior: Squirrels have a strong natural tendency to climb, jump, and explore their surroundings. This means they need plenty of space and structures to satisfy their instincts. In a domestic setting, squirrels may resort to climbing on furniture and making a mess.
  • Habitat: Squirrels are arboreal creatures, meaning they naturally live in trees. Their ideal habitat consists of a complex structure with ample opportunities for climbing and hiding. Creating such an environment within a household poses significant difficulties.
  • Diet: A squirrel’s diet is diverse and consists primarily of nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects.
  • Exercise: Squirrels are extremely active and require a significant amount of physical activity to stay healthy.
  • Social interaction: Squirrels are social animals and have complex, territorial behaviors within their communities. In a domesticated setting, they may not receive the appropriate social engagement they need, leading to potential isolation and stress.

Alternatives to Squirrel Domestication

There are responsible ways to interact with and appreciate squirrels in their natural habitat, as well as alternative pet options that are more suited to domestication. Focusing on supporting squirrel-friendly environments and making informed decisions about pet choices will ensure the wellbeing of squirrels and other animals.

  • Responsible wildlife interaction: Observing squirrels from a distance in their natural habitat is a respectful means of interacting with them. Refrain from feeding them, as it may disrupt their natural foraging habits and make them dependent on human intervention.
  • Creating a squirrel-friendly habitat: Enhance your backyard or garden to provide a safe space for squirrels to thrive. Plant trees, install squirrel feeders, or put up nest boxes to give them food sources and nesting opportunities while maintaining a safe distance.
  • Pet alternatives: There are domesticated rodents and small animals that make more suitable and manageable pets than squirrels. Consider adopting animals like guinea pigs, rats, or hamsters, which are already accustomed to living with humans and have lower maintenance requirements.

By interacting responsibly with wildlife and opting for more suitable pet choices, we can better appreciate squirrels in their natural environment and ensure a balanced coexistence between humans and these fascinating creatures.


Squirrels are amazing creatures best admired in their natural habitat. While they can’t be domesticated as pets, we can create squirrel-friendly spaces and enjoy watching them from a distance. If you’re looking for a furry companion, consider guinea pigs, rats, or hamsters instead. Let’s appreciate squirrels and foster a harmonious coexistence with wildlife.