How Much Does a Pet Squirrel Cost?

Written by: Staff

Squirrels are familiar to nearly everyone as these distinctive animals occupy a range of ecological niches all over the world.

With over 1,200 species of worldwide, with the notable exception of Australia, the squirrel family is composed of ground squirrels, marmots, prairie dogs, chipmunks and flying squirrel.  However, a squirrel to most people refers to the 122 tree squirrel species, which belong to the 22 genera of the subfamily Sciurinae.

Squirrel by likeaduck, on Flickr
Squirrel” (CC BY 2.0) by likeaduck

How much does a pet squirrel cost?

On average, a pet squirrel can cost about $100 to $350, and the costs will depend on the breeder, species, age and quality.  Before adopting a pet squirrel, however, make sure purchasing a squirrel is legal since many states set restrictions on what kind of exotic pets you can own.

What are the extra costs?

A cage, at least three feet tall and four feet wide, with a nesting box and branches inside, is required to keep the squirrel contained at all times.  A decent-sized setup can cost $180 to $300+, depending on the size and the materials the cage is made from.  Some owners often purchase a second cage for outside use as well.

A squirrel will primarily fee on food high in protein, fat and carbohydrates such as plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, fungi and green vegetables.  Most pet squirrel owners often combine a readily packaged squirrel food mix at the pet store with a mix of the food mentioned.  Avoid relying on packaged squirrel food as this can often lead to malnourishment.  A healthy squirrel will eat about one pound of food per week.

The teeth grow all through their lives, so it’s important they have chewing material readily available at all times. A flavored hardwood stick, pieces of hardwood or a sterilized cow hoof is often ideal for its dental health.

Squirrels, like most animals, love to socialize and play.  Consider placing a small stuffed animal inside of its nesting box as they often like to wrestle with it when they feel playful.  They also love to attach to tree branches or perches on the side of their cage.

Consider budgeting for routine and unexpected vet visits.

Tips to know:

Squirrels, considered small rodents, measure three to 11 inches long, with a tail length of about four to 10 inches, although some species, such as prairie dogs and marmots. are as large as a small beaver.  The average weight, depending on the species can range anywhere from four to 28 ounces.

Their social behaviors vary depending on the type of squirrel. Gray squirrels are solitary creatures during the summer but often stay together in larger groups of up to 24 squirrels during winter to keep warm. Red Squirrels are solitary and prefer living alone all year long, except when they are raising young.

It is best that you try and purchase a young, captive bred squirrel; — one that has either been hand-raised or separated from its mother at weaning time. This way, you can almost be assured the squirrel will adapt to a human being and will be readily tame.

A healthy squirrel should have a clear nose, clear, bright eyes, a glossy, clean coat, and be of a healthy weight.  You should also check to ensure the squirrel doesn’t have fleas or ticks.

Generally, a domesticated squirrel can live up to 20 years in optimum conditions.

Squirrels are often active for a couple hours after sunrise and a few hours before dusk.  Other than this, you will more than likely find them resting.

If you allow your squirrel to run freely throughout a home, always make sure that all electrical wires are secured; otherwise, you may find it chewing on it.

Avoid too much handling as squirrels are prone to infections. offers 10 reasons why you shouldn’t own a pet squirrel.

If you ever find a squirrel in need, consider taking it to a local wildlife rehabilitator who can care for it.  If you don’t know where to find one, consider calling a local vet’s office or searching online to see if you can find one in your area.

As for their temperament, owners claim they are attentive, very playful, affectionate and even intelligent.

While they aren’t considered to be aggressive, they can scratch or occasionally bite by accident, leaving some nasty marks.

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