Medieval Pets

Squirrels were kept as pets in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as Kathleen Walker-Meikle notes in Medieval Pets:

Even if it came from a species that had little intrinsic monetary value, an animal could be transformed into a pampered pet of exalted status by adorning it with elaborate accessories. Such is the case of the squirrel, a popular medieval pet, which is almost always described and depicted as being fitted with a collar and chain, usually finely crafted in silver … the practice of keeping pet squirrels on chains still prevailed in the sixteenth century, as observed in a dialogue in John Lyly's play Endymion:

Tophas: What is that the gentlewoman carrieth in a chain?
Epiton: Why, it is squirrel.
Tophas: A squirrel? O gods, what things are made for money!

(In fact, the keeping of pet squirrels continues into the 17th century -- see this detail from a still life by Abraham Mignon, c. 1670 -- and into the 18th century, as observed in portraits of Daniel Crommelin Verplanck, Rebecca Orne, a boy, two children, etc.)

The following links include pet squirrels and the material culture relating to pet squirrels (including collars, leashes, and hutches) as well as iconography of wild squirrels, especially in medieval manuscript marginalia. Note the different varieties of squirrels that appear, including the long-eared red squirrels.