When to Start Feeding a Baby Squirrel Solid Food
When to start feeding a baby squirrel solid food? There are four distinct stages to this process. Baby squirrels will typically grow their teeth at different rates, but most will start eating solid food once they are two months old. These are known as the Stages of Growth. Listed below are the stages your baby squirrel will be ready for:
Stage 2 of feeding a baby squirrel
After four to five weeks of age, a baby squirrel can start eating solid foods. The mother brings back food for her baby at this stage and she will eat walnuts, acorns, pine nuts, and pine cones to supplement her diet. Other things she eats are lichens, fruits, and tree bark. Squirrels may also catch beetles or larvae.
At this age, your baby squirrel will begin to explore its surroundings. Then, it will begin to gnaw on everything that it can reach. This can be tricky for people who hand raise young squirrels. Remember to squirrel-proof your home. Keep important papers and wires out of reach of your squirrel. This is because he or she will nibble everything. Just like the Chip ‘n Dale cartoon characters, baby squirrels begin to chew on everything they see.
Stage 3 of feeding a baby squirrel
You can start giving your baby squirrel solid food when it’s about six weeks old. This is a good time to introduce them to kale, broccoli, and apple slices. You can also try hard-shelled nuts out of the shell. Until nine to 10 weeks, you can still give them formula, but you can start cutting down on feedings if they are eating well. Just make sure that they are still gaining weight.
The baby squirrel can tolerate room temperatures as low as 25°C. However, you should remove the hot-water bottle in the day. Moreover, keep in mind that squirrels’ small furs make them better thermo-regulate than humans do. Once they’ve mastered the art of hand-feeding, they will enjoy exploring different kinds of food. Sometimes, they will eat bird’s eggs and chicks.
Stage 4 of feeding a baby squirrel
Once your baby squirrel is 10 to 12 weeks old, it’s time to transition from pureed foods to solids. Your goal is to get your squirrel to eat as much solid food as possible and eventually wean off of its pureed meals. You can begin introducing solid food gradually by supplementing the feeding blocks with a handful of dried fruits or vegetables. When introducing new foods, try to avoid over-feeding, as this is one of the most common signs of bad food.
At around six to eight weeks of age, a squirrel can start nibbling on solid food. Try kale, broccoli, apples, grapes, sweet potato, and hard-shelled nuts. If the squirrel does well on these foods, you can start cutting back on the feedings, but continue to give it enough solid food to gain weight. Be sure to handle your squirrel gently and keep him or her in a secure place.
Stage 5 of feeding a baby squirrel
When it’s time to start the transition from nut butter and jelly to pureed fruits and vegetables, it’s a good idea to wait until the young squirrels are about four months old before releasing them. This is when the young squirrels start to grow their adult coats and develop their first set of teeth. They also get their first linear marking on their foreheads, which will likely fade away after a few weeks. By the time they reach four to six months, they’ll be able to travel further and will stop returning at night but may still come back periodically during the day.
This stage will last about seven to nine weeks, and your baby squirrel will still be fed formula at night but will be able to consume solid food at lunch and dinner. At this age, you can introduce a special diet called Squirrel Complete to your baby. This food contains high-protein pellets mixed with healthy nuts and veggies. The ideal feeding bowl is a glass water bottle or stainless steel cup. Ceramic feeding dishes are dishwasher-safe and chew-proof.
Stage 6 of feeding a baby squirrel
The nutritional diet of a baby squirrel depends on its age and size. Squirrels under six weeks of age are not ready for solid foods and remain highly dependent on mother’s milk. For this reason, it is best to try to reunite the baby squirrel with its mother while weaning it from milk. A healthy diet for a baby squirrel includes a mixture of different foods and introducing solids gradually.
In the first few weeks after birth, you can start feeding your baby squirrel with formula, and then switch to solids at three to five weeks of age. A baby squirrel can still receive hard-shelled nuts or raw fruits. You should also make sure the squirrel is not chilled while feeding it. If you have purchased a rescued squirrel, make sure to use the best safety equipment when working with them.
What is the minimum age a baby squirrel should be before being introduced to solid food?
Answer: 6-8 weeks old.
How often should a baby squirrel be fed solid food?
Answer: 3-4 times per day.
What type of food should be given to a baby squirrel?
Answer: Soft easily digestible foods such as mashed fruits and vegetables softened pellets or a special squirrel formula.
What should be done if a baby squirrel refuses to eat solid food?
Answer: If a baby squirrel refuses to eat solid food force-feeding may be necessary.
A veterinarian or experienced wildlife rehabilitator can show you how to properly do this.
What are some signs that a baby squirrel is not getting enough to eat?
Answer: Some signs that a baby squirrel is not getting enough to eat include weight loss lack of energy and diarrhea.
What are some potential risks of feeding a baby squirrel solid food too early?
Answer: Some potential risks of feeding a baby squirrel solid food too early include dehydration malnutrition and gastrointestinal problems.
What are some potential risks of feeding a baby squirrel solid food too late?
Answer: Some potential risks of feeding a baby squirrel solid food too late include dental problems and difficulty transitioning to a solid food diet.
How can I tell if a baby squirrel is ready to start eating solid food?
Answer: A baby squirrel is typically ready to start eating solid food when it is able to hold its head up and is beginning to explore its surroundings.
Should I continue to feed a baby squirrel milk once it starts eating solid food?
Answer: Yes milk should continue to be given to a baby squirrel even after it starts eating solid food.
How long should I continue to feed a baby squirrel milk?
Answer: Baby squirrels should continue to be given milk until they are weaned which is typically around 8-10 weeks of age.
How long should I continue to feed a baby squirrel solid food?
Answer: Baby squirrels should continue to be given solid food until they are fully grown which is typically around 12-16 weeks of age.
What are some signs that a baby squirrel is ready to be weaned?
Answer: Some signs that a baby squirrel is ready to be weaned include eating solid food on a regular basis decreased interest in milk and increased interest in exploring its surroundings.
How do I wean a baby squirrel off of milk?
Answer: Weaning a baby squirrel off of milk can be done gradually by decreasing the amount of milk given and increasing the amount of solid food given or suddenly by stopping milk altogether and only giving solid food.
What happens if I wean a baby squirrel too early?
Answer: If a baby squirrel is weaned too early it may not get enough nutrition and could become malnourished.
What happens if I wean a baby squirrel too late?
Answer: If a baby squirrel is weaned too late it may have difficulty transitioning to a solid food diet and could end up with dental problems.
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.