When to Release a Squirrel Back Into the Wild
If you’ve raised a squirrel in captivity, you may wonder when to release it back into the wild. Here are a few things to consider:
Baby squirrels born in the spring have it easier
When reintroducing a new baby squirrel into the wild, make sure it’s in a spring-born litter. Spring-born squirrels have a better chance of survival than winter-born squirrels. Their eyes open at about four weeks and start exploring outside the nest by six weeks. By ten weeks, the young are mobile and independent. After that, the mother will move them back into the nest.
Newborn squirrels need their mother to survive, so it’s important to feed them and give them water. Baby squirrels need a minimum of 24 hours to rehydrate. Feeding them formula will not help them survive. They need fluids to rehydrate their body, and while some formulas are better than others, most aren’t safe. Only licensed rehabilitators know how to feed baby squirrels safely. A poorly prepared diet can cause pneumonia and may prove fatal.
Babies born in the fall have it harder
If you are reintroducing a baby squirrel into the wild after it was rescued, there are a few steps you can take to help it get back into the wild. The first step is to gently pick up the baby squirrel and wrap it in a soft cloth. This will warm its body temperature. Mother squirrels are not able to tell when their baby is shivering or hot, so they will cool off quickly.
First, you can use cotton gloves to pick up the baby. They are easier to handle and will help retain the scent of the baby squirrel. Baby squirrels rely on their own scent to feel safe and secure. When feeding the red baby, make sure you cover its eyes with your hands, which will minimize stress and help it nurse properly. Be gentle with the feeding and do not rush it.
Avoid releasing them on private property
Releasing squirrels back into the wild is illegal in most places, including parks and wildlife refuges. For one thing, squirrels do not make good pets and can bite and scratch if they feel threatened. In addition, squirrels are incredibly independent once they are no longer babies. They can even be aggressive toward humans, so they are best avoided at all costs. Here are some tips to avoid releasing squirrels back into the wild.
The first thing to do is to block all access points. Squirrels will enter your home for three reasons: food, a warm place to sleep, and a nesting area. If your home is filled with easy access points, squirrels will be enticed to enter. Seal up any gaps and holes around the foundation of your home and trim overhanging tree branches. Similarly, don’t feed the squirrels on your property unless you’re certain they won’t come back.
Consider the natural history of the animal
If you’re reintroducing a squirrel to the wild, you must consider its natural history. As a prey species, squirrels face numerous challenges. The species’ mortality rate can be as high as 75 percent in its first year, and then 50 percent annually in subsequent years. Common factors contributing to mortality in squirrels include poor nutrition, predation, and severe winters. In addition to human activity, squirrels also face predators, including raptors, domestic dogs, and other wildlife.
It is essential for wildlife rehabilitators to consider the natural history of the squirrel before releasing it back into the wild. Prior knowledge of the species’ biology and behavior can prevent numerous problems and encourage the public to be more accepting of the species. Often, the public contacts wildlife rehabilitators with questions about squirrel rescue or human-wildlife conflicts. Before releasing a squirrel, rehabilitators must assess the animal’s overall health to determine what first-aid, veterinary care, and general care are needed.
How long does a baby squirrel stay with its mother?
A baby squirrel stays with its mother for about 12 to 18 weeks until it is ready to fend for itself.
At what age is a baby squirrel weaned?
A baby squirrel is weaned at around 12 to 18 weeks old.
What should you do if you find an injured or orphaned squirrel?
If you find an injured or orphaned squirrel you should call a wildlife rehabilitator for help.
What does a squirrel eat?
A squirrel eats a variety of things including nuts seeds fruits and insects.
How much does a squirrel weigh?
A squirrel typically weighs between 1 and 1.
How long does a squirrel live?
In the wild a squirrel typically lives between 6 and 10 years.
What is the biggest threat to squirrels?
The biggest threat to squirrels is humans.
Cars habitat loss and hunting all pose a threat to squirrel populations.
What is the best time of year to release a squirrel back into the wild?
The best time of year to release a squirrel back into the wild is in the spring or summer.
How do you release a squirrel back into the wild?
You should release a squirrel back into the wild in an area where there are trees and other squirrels.
Make sure to provide food and water for the squirrel.
What should you do if a squirrel is nesting in your home?
If a squirrel is nesting in your home you should call a wildlife rehabilitator for help.
What is the difference between a ground squirrel and a tree squirrel?
Ground squirrels live in burrows underground while tree squirrels live in trees.
How many times a day does a squirrel eat?
A squirrel typically eats around 3 to 4 times a day.
What is the most common type of squirrel in North America?
The most common type of squirrel in North America is the gray squirrel.
How do squirrels communicate?
Squirrels communicate through a variety of vocalizations and body language.
What is the best way to prevent squirrels from entering your home?
The best way to prevent squirrels from entering your home is to seal up any openings or keep food inside.
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.