What to Do If a Baby Squirrel Follows You
The first thing to do if a baby squirrel follows your path is to put it inside a Ziploc bag filled with rice or a container of some other soft substance. If you aren’t sure what a squirrel squeaks, check out this YouTube video, where the animal can be heard making a range of distress sounds. Once you have safely removed the baby squirrel from its carrier, you should watch for its mother. During the day, she isn’t active, so you can find her in the evening.
Move away from it
A baby squirrel may follow you if it senses danger. If this is the case, try to keep its distance. You can use loud noises to startle them. Using a soft towel or sock can help you move away from a baby squirrel. Never approach a baby squirrel without checking the temperature first. You can also try to warm a sock by warming it in the microwave. It will be safer for the baby if you do not offer it food.
Once you have moved away from a baby squirrel, you should return the animal to its nesting tree. Usually, this is a tree nearby. Squirrels build their nests in tree cavities or dreys (big balls of dried leaves at the top of trees). When you see the baby squirrel following you, move away from it. If it continues to follow you, move away from it and call its mother to find it.
Contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator
If a baby squirrel follows you, contact a wildlife rehabilitator right away. Young squirrels have a slim chance of survival, and their survival skills are not yet developed enough to live on their own. It may take the mother several hours to retrieve its young, and even then, the female squirrel may still need to build a new nest. If you have caught a baby squirrel, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
Immediately contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator – even if the squirrel appears to be a healthy one. Wild animals are protected by law, and it is illegal to take one for care or keep as a pet. If you see an injured wildlife patient, be sure to call the rehabilitator immediately. The sooner you reach the rehabilitator, the better the chances are for survival.
Keep it warm
If a baby squirrel follows you, it is important to keep it safe as it has very little chance of survival in the wild. They lack the skills necessary to survive on their own and will not thrive in a human’s care. Often, a female squirrel will take several hours to fetch her young and will have to build a new nest. To help the baby squirrel, wildlife rehabilitators will suggest placing it in an open box near the nest.
To keep the baby squirrel safe, place it in a warm box or small container. You can also use a hot water bottle. Make sure that the baby is not covered in anything as the mother will not be able to find it. Alternatively, you can pick up the baby squirrel and position it in the nest. Keep in mind that human oils are not harmful for squirrels, so be careful with what you wear!
Avoid feeding it peanuts
The safest way to avoid feeding a baby squirrel peanuts is to not feed them any. Peanuts are very high in fat and sodium, and if given frequently, may cause pancreatic problems. Peanuts can also trigger a gastrointestinal blockage and choking hazard in a baby squirrel. Roasted peanuts contain a higher concentration of sodium than oil-roasted peanuts, and are also very high in calories.
If you feed a squirrel nuts, the best type to offer is unsulphured walnuts, figs, and raisins. Fresh kiwi can be obtained during the holiday season from a health food store. Always be sure to peel and taste the nuts before giving them to your baby squirrel. Remember that overfeeding nuts and seeds can cause obesity, which leads to heart problems. Moreover, it could lead to undesirable behavior.
Keep pets away from it
There are some things that you should know before bringing a baby squirrel home. While squirrels are adorable and cuddly, they are not tame like cats and dogs. Even if they seem friendly, they might have diseases and may attack people or pets. Keep pets away from a baby squirrel until it is old enough to live on its own. If you have a cat or dog, do not bring a baby squirrel home until it is at least six months old.
If a baby squirrel is found, try to place him near the tree it came from. Keep pets and children away from the baby until the mother comes to collect him. If the baby squirrel falls to the ground, you should place him back in the tree to wait for the mama to come back to collect him. Alternatively, you can place the nest in a basket or pot. In order to keep pets away from the nest, you must keep them away from the baby squirrel at all times.
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.