How to Care For a Baby Squirrel
Here’s how to care for a baby squirrel. First, make sure the squirrel is not too cold. Feeding a squirrel that is cold could lead to entanglement and death, so keep it warm. Using warm fabrics like fleece or t-shirts will keep the baby squirrel warm without entangling its feet or nails. If you’re worried about the squirrel’s nails, you can use a heating pad and turn it half on and half off for 45 minutes at a time.
Basic care page for squirrels
Squirrels are one of the few animals that are not suited to live in a home. They have wild instincts, and therefore do not make good pets. If you encounter a wild squirrel, use gloves to prevent any injuries. If an adult squirrel is injured, leave it in a box or laundry basket until it recovers. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator or animal control operator to help you care for the squirrel.
The Basic Care page contains important information for keeping a squirrel. It includes a link to a licensed rehab facility and an online message board. It also has a telephone number that can provide you with real-time advice and links to common questions. A basic care page for squirrels is not an exhaustive guide, but it is the best starting point for a successful squirrel-keeping experience. If you decide to keep a squirrel, make sure to read all of the information carefully to avoid introducing any health risks.
Proper diet for baby squirrels
Depending on their age and size, you can wean baby squirrels off of formula as early as three weeks old. Once they start eating solid food, they can be offered unsalted sunflower seeds or raw fruit. Then, after every drinking period, you should encourage them to move around. You should not release them until they are about six weeks old, as squirrels can be dangerous to household pets. Likewise, you should not release them until winter is over.
Feed the squirrels with a high-quality re-hydration formula. Mix the liquid with a little water for the first feeding. Add less water for subsequent feedings. Never feed your squirrel with cow’s or soy milk. These are both harmful and inappropriate for baby squirrels. If you are not sure what kind of food your squirrel should be eating, check the label on the bottle. Try to keep the bottle as clean as possible to avoid contamination.
Cleaning its face
Clean the face of a baby squirrel after every feeding. This is an important step as the formula in the milk sticks to the baby’s face, causing discomfort and possibly losing fur. In nature, mother squirrels lick their babies clean with their tongues. This process will make your baby squirrel feel comfortable and may also encourage it to go to the bathroom. Clean the face of your baby squirrel after each feeding, and you may not need to do it every day.
Besides cleaning the face of a baby squirrel, you should also look for any other signs of injury or infection. The presence of flies’ eggs is one indication that the baby is orphaned. Fly eggs are tiny, whitish grains that stick to the skin, fur, and any wounds. If you find any, this will be a sign of a wounded baby, and its mother would not let her child be left in such an unclean state. If you do spot a wound, use Q-tips to clean it with warm saline solution. If you find an obvious injury, wildlife rehabilitators may prescribe antibiotics to the baby.
Keeping its cage clean
Baby squirrels are not the best pets. Once they are no longer babies, they are incredibly independent. If you try to feed them, they will bite you. You can prevent this by keeping their cage clean. You can do this by using a washcloth mimicking the way a mother would lick her baby. But keep in mind that it may be difficult to clean a squirrel’s penis. In such cases, the best thing to do is to remove the scab and allow the squirrel to release its urine.
One of the easiest ways to keep your squirrel’s habitat clean is to change its bedding daily. You can use fragrance-free wipes to clean soiled areas. Or you can also use distilled white vinegar and use some extra fabric to wipe the cage down. These cleaning solutions are safe for the squirrel’s respiratory system and will not irritate it. You can also use old bathroom rugs to cover the cage, since they are able to climb and scratch.
Keeping it out of its natural habitat
Removing a baby squirrel from its natural habitat is easy enough, but there are several things to keep in mind to keep it safe. First, the baby needs to interact with other squirrels, and you can do this by allowing it to spend one hour outside its cage every day. If you cannot find a room in which to keep the squirrel, consider buying a larger outdoor cage or moving the baby squirrel to another tree. If you do allow your baby squirrel to go outside, do so very carefully, and never allow it to play in an area where predators can easily catch it.
Second, the baby squirrel should be kept away from children and other pets. Keep the cage clean, and always wear gloves when handling an animal. Moreover, keep your baby squirrel away from electric wirings and uncapped outlets. Toilets, unclosures, and hot burners can cause a squirrel’s death. Finally, do not leave the squirrel alone with other pets. Always make sure to supervise your squirrel’s activities.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.