I Found A Baby Squirrel What Do I Do?
So you found a baby squirrel, now what? First of all, it is a baby, so it needs care and attention. While the baby squirrel may need the services of a wildlife rehabilitator, you can do all you can to keep it safe and warm until it is ready to be returned to its mother. If you have an improvised nest, you can place it in it to keep it warm and dry.
Stimulate the baby to urinate and have a bowel movement
Your baby will urinate more frequently after eating and after transitioning from sleep to waking. They will not urinate when in a deep, quiet sleep, which is the equivalent of adult deep sleep. Fortunately, babies’ bladders aren’t hopelessly weak or erratic, and you can help them achieve regular bowel movements by stimulating them with foods that promote bowel movement.
Place the baby squirrel in an improvised nest
First, take the baby squirrel out to the tree it fell from. Then, use a box, or other improvised nest, to place it safely. Be sure to secure it, so the mother can get in and feed the baby. Next, the baby squirrel needs a heat source. If the box is too small or too far away from the baby, fill a soda bottle with hot water and place it near the baby. If possible, place the nest on the tree’s side, but if this is not possible, use a dishtowel or old wool sweater.
If the baby squirrel was born in the rain, a plastic basket might be more appropriate. It will not absorb water like a box would. Secure the basket with rope or bungee cords. Another temporary container is a plastic jug with an opening. Make the opening large enough to allow the mother squirrel to enter. You can also cut a few inches from the bottom to make a suitable opening.
Keep it warm
First, you should keep the baby squirrel as warm as possible. It should be warm to the touch, but not hot. Pressing its back leg will cause it to squeal, which will alert the mother squirrel. A furry baby squirrel is less susceptible to cold than a naked one, so you should not touch it. This will cause it to shiver and suffer further injury. Also, be careful not to place the squirrel in a bare room, as this could lead to a death situation.
You can use a bread basket or another sturdy object to place the baby in. However, the basket should be no deeper than three inches. You can attach the basket to a lower level of a tree. Older squirrels might be concerned that they will fall out of the basket, so place a sock filled with rice and a T-shirt over it. The baby squirrel should be warm and dry before being brought indoors.
Reunite the baby squirrel with its mother
Reuniting a baby squirrel with its mother is a common but often overlooked way to help it survive. Most squirrels are independent around 10 to 12 weeks of age, but even at this stage, you still need to be careful when handling the animal. When approaching the baby squirrel, make loud noises and place uncooked bird seed or rice in a sock. Wrap the sock tightly in a soft towel. Once you have reached the baby, place it in a bowl or open container. Be sure to use gloves.
When caring for a baby squirrel, you must make sure that it is kept warm and in a place where the mother squirrel can keep watch over it. If the baby is cold or sick, it is unlikely to receive good care from the mother squirrel. If you can’t reach a wildlife rehabber, you can call the Helpline or make a distress call to the baby. Play the distress call in a loud enough volume that the mother squirrel can hear it.
Avoid trapping and relocating wildlife after finding a baby squirrel
Don’t try to remove a baby squirrel from a tree by trapping or relocating it yourself. Squirrels are highly adaptable and need their natural habitat to survive. Mother squirrels often build several nests simultaneously and will often relocate her baby once she has grown up. Trapping and moving a baby squirrel can be stressful for the animal, and it may not survive in its new environment.
Don’t attempt to move the baby squirrel yourself unless you know the exact location. Mother squirrels are protective of their young and will usually wait until they’re old enough to leave the nest before relocating their young. However, if you’re unsure, you can always use a blanket and net to trap the squirrel and avoid touching the fur. Remember to leave the tail in place if you’re handling the baby squirrel.
What do you do if you find a baby squirrel?
Answer: If you find a baby squirrel and it is uninjured the best thing to do is to place it back in its nest.
If the nest is destroyed or you can’t find it you can create a substitute nest using a small box lined with soft materials like cloth.
Secure the nest high off the ground and out of reach of pets.
Monitor the nest from a distance to make sure the mother squirrel comes back to care for her young.
Is it legal to keep a baby squirrel as a pet in the United States?
Answer: No it is not legal to keep a baby squirrel as a pet in the United States.
All squirrels including baby squirrels are protected under the federal law known as the Wildlife Conservation Act.
What kind of food do baby squirrels eat?
Answer: Baby squirrels eat a diet that consists mainly of insects.
However they will also eat fruits vegetables nuts and seeds.
How often do baby squirrels need to eat?
Answer: Baby squirrels need to eat approximately every two hours.
How can you tell if a baby squirrel is dehydrated?
Answer: To tell if a baby squirrel is dehydrated look for these signs: sunken eyes dry mouth lethargy or a wrinkled appearance to the skin.
How do you hydrate a baby squirrel?
Answer: The best way to hydrate a baby squirrel is to give it sugar water or pedialyte using a dropper or syringe.
At what temperature is a baby squirrel’s body temperature?
Answer: A baby squirrel’s body temperature is approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
How can you tell if a baby squirrel is too cold?
Answer: To tell if a baby squirrel is too cold look for these signs: shivering slow heartbeat or a weak pulse.
How can you tell if a baby squirrel is too hot?
Answer: To tell if a baby squirrel is too hot look for these signs: panting rapid heartbeat or increased body temperature.
What should you do if a baby squirrel is too cold?
Answer: If a baby squirrel is too cold you should slowly warm it up by placing it in a container with warm (not hot) water.
You can also place it under your shirt next to your skin.
What should you do if a baby squirrel is too hot?
Answer: If a baby squirrel is too hot you should cool it down by placing it in a container with cool (not cold) water or in a cool shady spot.
How often should you handle a baby squirrel?
Answer: You should only handle a baby squirrel when absolutely necessary and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
What are some common diseases that baby squirrels can get?
Answer: Baby squirrels can get a number of diseases including rabies distemper and salmonella.
How can you tell if a baby squirrel has rabies?
Answer: Symptoms of rabies in animals can vary but some common signs to look for are: aggression paralysis frothing at the mouth and seizures.
What should you do if you think a baby squirrel has rabies?
Answer: If you think a baby squirrel has rabies the best thing to do is to call your local animal control or wildlife rehabilitation center immediately.
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.