What to Do With a Baby Squirrel
There are several reasons to care for a baby squirrel. It may have been orphaned or injured. Look for broken bones or open wounds. It may have been in a dog or cat’s mouth. Fly eggs could be covering the fur. The animal may be wet and cold. The tail should be fluffy and the body length should be at least six inches. If a baby squirrel is more than six inches long, it is a juvenile and will probably need independent care.
Whether you are taking a newborn squirrel to a veterinarian or keeping it as a pet, it’s crucial that you have the right knowledge on how to care for a baby squirrel. A veterinarian will give you the correct advice based on the severity of the condition. Some vets specialize in exotic animals, which is why their rates are higher. Nonetheless, if the situation is serious, it’s better to go to an animal clinic.
Once the baby squirrel has a good appetite, you can introduce it to solid food. You can introduce it to unsalted sunflower seeds or raw fruit at around three weeks. Then, after the third week, you can move it to a permanent nest to feed on. As the squirrel grows, you’ll need to alter the nest in order to provide it with a stable environment. It’s best to get a wildlife rehabilitator to handle the baby squirrel’s health.
In the meantime, keep the baby squirrel in a cage. The goal is to establish its independence and learn to be fearful of humans. Allow it to explore the cage on its own for at least two weeks. By this time, it should be ready to be introduced to food. You can continue offering the squirrel nuts and fruits in their shells. Once you’re done with that, the squirrel should be healthy enough to live on its own.
It is also important to keep the baby squirrel warm. If it is still cool, do not feed it, and it is best to keep the baby next to you as long as possible. If it is cold, heat it with a heating pad or by placing warm water underneath a blanket. If you find it later in the day, check for wounds and distress. If the squirrel is still cold, it’s best to wait until the morning to move it back into the tree.
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The baby squirrel will want to move to a larger habitat. If it is too small for a dog carrier, use a bigger one. If the carrier has holes, cover them with smaller materials, such as bird netting, chicken wire, or an old window screen. The baby will love the mineral stone. It is a natural source of essential minerals. If it gets dehydrated, it will die, so the baby squirrel should be given fresh water 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.