How to Wean a Squirrel
If you’ve been wondering how to wean a squirrel, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for information about the symptoms of weaning a baby squirrel, the process, the timeframe involved, and safety measures to be taken. Regardless of whether you’re working with a pet or a wild animal, weaning your squirrel is a rewarding experience. Listed below are the essential tips for successfully weaning a squirrel.
Symptoms of a baby squirrel
If your baby squirrel is having trouble peeing or cannot be held for more than a few seconds, it is time to visit your veterinarian. If the problem persists, you may need to give it more frequent feedings. In some cases, feeding too much can lead to severe health problems, including pneumonia. A wildlife rehabilitator may recommend antibiotics for your baby. The following are some signs that your baby is weaning.
First, the baby squirrel may have fallen out of the nest. This is a normal occurrence and it is a sign that mom is still caring for her baby. Secondly, the baby may have parasites, which look like tiny grains of rice clustered together. This is a sign that the baby is starving and needs to re-hydrate. This will prevent the squirrel from developing a lung infection, which can be deadly.
Methods for weaning a baby squirrel
The first step in weaning a baby squirrel is to observe it in a quiet room without disturbing it. When it’s not crying, it will look gaping and continue to drink drops of formula from the syringe. You can wake it up by washing its face. If it refuses to drink, the animal is in need of fluids. It will need up to six feedings a day until it is eight weeks old. You can gradually increase the feeding frequency once the squirrel reaches eight weeks of age.
When you wean a baby squirrel, it’s important to make it transition from formula to solid food. A baby squirrel can start nibbling on solid foods at around 6 to 7 weeks, but it will still need formula every four hours. The best food choices are vegetables and fruits, as well as pecans and nuts. You should offer a mixture of healthy foods so that your squirrel can grow. Then, gradually wean your baby squirrel from formula to a diet of whole, natural food.
Time frame for weaning a baby squirrel
Depending on species, a baby squirrel’s weaning period may take anywhere from four to eight weeks. Baby squirrels are totally dependent on their mother for the first few weeks of life. After this, they gradually wean themselves, becoming independent of their mother by the time they reach six weeks old. In North America, gray squirrels open their eyes at around four weeks and leave their mothers at around ten weeks. They typically have two litters per year.
A time frame for weaning a baby squirrel is based on the body weight of the animal. A squirrel weighing 100 grams would receive 5 ml of formula per feeding. The amount you feed is not set in stone, but it is a good guideline. If you are unsure of the exact amount to feed, use a small scale. You can measure the feeding amounts on a scale in grams.
Safety precautions for weaning a baby squirrel
While weaning a baby squirrel, there are some precautions you should take to make the process as safe as possible. The baby squirrel may not be able to swallow a large amount of liquid in one sitting, and they should not be left near your household pets. Household pets can easily kill a baby squirrel in a split second. Moreover, you should not let your baby squirrel outside until it is at least four to six months old. Release a baby squirrel in fall or winter, as it may be killed by your pet’s snout. If you live in a cooler climate, it is a good idea to hold your baby squirrel through the winter months.
To begin weaning a baby squirrel, you should first bathe the baby with warm water and a soft washcloth. It is important to keep the baby clean, so be sure to wipe off its face and nostrils. When you’re bathing your baby, gently rub its genital area with a soft wet cloth to simulate the feeling of a mother’s tongue. After the bath, you can stimulate its bladder by gently tickling its genital area. You should do this until the baby squirrel is completely empty.
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.