An Alabama man is accused of feeding methamphetamine, or meth, to a caged “attack squirrel” he allegedly kept as a pet, The News Courier reports. Authorities say that he fed drugs to the rodent to “keep it aggressive.”
As of this writing, Mickey Paulk, 35, is a fugitive, as he wasn’t present when authorities served a search warrant on the home where he was staying, and he has an active warrant for his arrest. In addition to allegedly feeding meth to a caged squirrel, he’s wanted for a variety of other drug and gun crimes as well.
On Monday morning, authorities executed a search warrant at an Athens apartment where Paulk was believed to be staying. They found meth, drug paraphernalia, body armor, and ammunition. They also found 37-year-old Ronnie Reynolds and charged him with loitering at a known drug house and a host of related crimes.
Authorities say they were warned before going to the apartment that Paulk kept a caged squirrel and that he fed the rodent meth in order to “keep it aggressive.” Officers did indeed find a caged squirrel, although whether or not the rodent was aggressive, or even given a steady diet of meth, is unclear. Authorities say there is no safe way to test a squirrel for meth. The animal was eventually released back into the wild.
Authorities from the Alabama Game and Fish Division of the Department of Conservation say that it is, indeed, a crime to keep a pet squirrel in Alabama. Whether or not Paulk was or will be charged with that crime remains unclear.
Meanwhile, Paulk is still wanted on charges of possession of a controlled substance, being a certain person forbidden to possess a firearm, and possession of drug paraphernalia. As of this writing, he is still on the lam.
According to VetzInsight, squirrels absolutely should not be kept as pets. For one thing, they’re wild animals that, unlike cats or dogs, haven’t been domesticated. Taking one out of its natural habitat and keeping it indoors, and/or caged, is cruel at best and dangerous at worst.
The animals have sharp teeth and claws, for example. Unlike their rodent cousins rabbits, squirrels are intensely food-motivated and are constantly on the move looking for food. Once used to humans, they’ll constantly beg and steal whatever they can get, says wildlife rehabilitator and veterinarian Terri Sutherland (not her real name). What’s more, the natural diet squirrels require is difficult to reproduce at home.