Squirrels are lively, cheerful, and fun little rodents. Some types of squirrel can make great emotional support pets. An emotional support squirrel can provide good company and make a great support animal for people who suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, phobias, or neurosis.
An emotional support squirrel is a relatively unusual ESA choice. The vast majority of ESA owners choose more traditional pet types such as dogs and cats. Pot-bellied pigs, rats, and rabbits are also popular choices of emotional support pets.
While an ESA squirrel can be a great addition to your life, because of the relative rarity of pet squirrels, keeping an emotional support squirrel can require a bit more research, preparation, and work than owning a more traditional pet.
For many ESA squirrel owners the extra work involved in certainly worth it. If you’re interested in joining the fledgeling ESA squirrel revolution, you’re probably wondering… Where can I get an emotional support squirrel?
Legality of ESA Squirrel Ownership
Whether or not it is legal to own an ESA squirrel varies state by state. Most states allow ownership of at least one species of emotional support squirrel. Many states require that you get a permit in order to avail of this unusual ESA.
Different ESA Squirrel Species
There are two main types of squirrel: tree squirrels and ground squirrels. There are various species within these two categories.
The main species of tree squirrel are Grey Squirrel, Fox Squirrel, Flying Squirrel, and Provost Squirrel. The main species of ground squirrel are Chipmunk, Rock Squirrel, Prairie Dog, and Richardson’s Ground Squirrel.
Some species of tree squirrel and ground squirrel are more suitable to be kept as emotional support pets than others.
ESA Squirrel Temperament
The main factor that dictates whether a species of squirrel makes a suitable ESA squirrel is its temperament.
The most suitable ESA squirrel species are Chipmunks, Flying Squirrels, and Prairie Dogs. Chipmunks are affectionate and interact well with humans. Flying Squirrels are social and enjoy interacting with humans and they can live quite happily in a large and suitably furnished cage. Prairie Dogs are typically intelligent and quite good-natured.
Grey Squirrels and Fox Squirrels can only bond with one person and are often aggressive to others. They sometimes bite and nip and are not suitable pets. Rock Squirrels are quite docile and gentle, but they live in colonies in the wild so are not happy living alone as pets. Prevost Squirrels have long, sharp nails and love to climb on people, which can be painful! They also have a loud, high-pitched squeak, so they are not ideal emotional support pets.
Where Can I Get an Emotional Support Squirrel?
The best way to get an emotional support squirrel is from a recognized, professional pet squirrel breeder. Contact your local exotic animal dealer for a list of good squirrel breeders in your area.
When you visit the squirrel breeder you will need to show that you have any relevant paperwork required by your home state.
It is strictly forbidden by law to capture wild squirrels and then keep them as pets. However, if you find an orphaned baby squirrel and, after giving ample opportunity for its mother to return, decide to take it into your home, this can be an option. But you must consult with your local department of animal services first.
ESA Squirrel Living Space
An ESA squirrel will require a suitable cage. The cage will need to be large, as squirrels are active animals. Squirrels enjoy climbing, so the cage will need to be at least one meter tall with branches and pieces of wood for climbing on. The cage should also contain nooks and crannies in which your emotional support squirrel can hide.
Squirrels have strong teeth and are good at squeezing through small spaces, so the cage will need to be secure and made of strong metal.
The cage should be near a window, as natural sunlight will help to more closely mimic the squirrel’s natural environment. You should also supply your ESA squirrel with toys for chewing on, and place a small wooden box inside the cage that the squirrel can nest in.
Emotional Support Squirrel Diet
To keep your ESA squirrel healthy, feed it rodent blocks. Rodent blocks can be bought in any pet store or online. Rodent blocks offer a complete nutrient profile and will provide the ideal diet for your emotional support squirrel.
To vary your ESA squirrel’s diet, you can give it treats of crickets, fruit, and nuts.
Always make sure your emotional squirrel support has an ample supply of clean drinking water available at all times.
ESA Squirrel Health and Exercise Requirements
Finally, because ESA squirrels are quite unusual, not all vets are particularly knowledgeable about treating squirrels. It is important that you find a vet that understands squirrels so that you can bring your ESA squirrel for regular vet check-ups.