How To Care For A Baby Squirrel: Caring for a baby squirrel can be a rewarding but challenging experience. These tiny, delicate creatures require a lot of attention, patience, and specialized care to thrive. Whether you’ve stumbled upon an orphaned squirrel or are considering raising one as a pet, it’s essential to understand the unique needs and responsibilities that come with caring for these wild animals. The essential aspects of how to care for a baby squirrel, from feeding and housing to providing proper medical attention and preparing them for eventual release back into the wild. With the right dedication, you can help ensure the well-being and successful rehabilitation of these adorable, furry creatures.
Identifying the squirrel’s age is crucial as their dietary and care needs vary with their developmental stage. Newborns (0-5 weeks old) require specialized milk replacers, while older squirrels (6-12 weeks old) can start transitioning to a more solid diet. If you are caring for a very young squirrel, you’ll need to feed it a suitable milk replacer formula using a small syringe or dropper. As they grow, introduce solid foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and specially formulated squirrel diets. Consult with a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian for advice on proper nutrition. Baby squirrels should be kept in a warm, quiet, and safe enclosure.
A cozy nesting box or cage with plenty of soft bedding material. Ensure the enclosure is well-ventilated and cleaned regularly to maintain hygiene. Consider contacting a local wildlife rehabilitator or a wildlife rescue organization for assistance throughout the process. Valuable insights and resources for caring for baby squirrels and help ensure their successful rehabilitation and eventual release. Seek advice from a veterinarian experienced in treating wildlife to address any health issues, vaccinations, or parasite infestations. Regular check-ups are crucial to monitor the squirrel’s progress.
What do you feed a baby squirrel?
What do baby squirrels eat? Formula, also called “milk replacer.” Pinkies less than 10 days old: Homemade Goat Milk Formula for 10 days, then switch to either Esbilac Puppy Milk powder, or Fox Valley 32/40, then switch to Fox Valley 20/50 by 4 weeks old.
Newborn to Five Weeks Old: Newborn squirrels primarily rely on their mother’s milk. If you’re caring for an orphaned squirrel during this stage, you’ll need to use a specialized milk replacer formula designed for squirrels, as regular cow’s milk can be harmful. Feed them every 2-3 hours around the clock using a small syringe or dropper.
Five to Eight Weeks Old: As they reach this stage, you can start transitioning baby squirrels to a more solid diet. Introduce a squirrel-specific formula mixed with a high-quality puppy milk replacer or baby cereal. Gradually decrease the frequency of feedings to every 4-5 hours.
Eight Weeks and Older: At this point, baby squirrels can eat a variety of solid foods. Introduce fruits, vegetables, nuts, and specially formulated squirrel diets. Ensure that their diet is well-balanced and includes calcium-rich foods to support healthy bone development. Provide fresh water in a shallow dish.
Weaning: Around 10-12 weeks of age, baby squirrels can be fully weaned off formula and onto a solid diet. Encourage them to forage for nuts and other natural foods to develop their natural foraging behaviors.
Can you feed a baby squirrel water?
The only fluids that should ever be offered to a baby squirrel are rehydration formulations for human infants, such as Pedialyte or a milk replacement formula appropriate for squirrels (such as Fox Valley Day One). Inappropriate fluids will make dehydration worse and/or cause life-threatening diarrhea.
Age-Appropriate Water Introduction: When a baby squirrel is still nursing from a mother or being fed a milk replacer formula, they receive some hydration from the milk. However, as they grow and begin to eat solid foods, you should introduce water gradually.
Shallow Dishes: Use a shallow, sturdy dish that the squirrel can easily access. A small, shallow bowl or a water bottle with a sipper tube designed for small animals can work well.
Clean and Fresh: Ensure that the water is clean and changed regularly to prevent contamination and bacterial growth. Baby squirrels, like all animals, require access to fresh water to stay healthy.
Monitoring Intake: Keep an eye on the squirrel’s water intake, especially if you notice changes in their behavior or appearance. Dehydration can be a serious concern and may require prompt veterinary attention.
Do Not Force: Never force a baby squirrel to drink water. They will typically start drinking on their own as they become accustomed to solid foods.
How do you save a baby squirrel?
Get the baby squirrel contained
Even on a warm day babies can get cold, so give it a heat source: a clean sock filled with dry, uncooked rice, and microwaved for one minute. a plastic bottle from the recycling bin filled with hot tap water. an electric heating pad set to “LOW” and placed under half of the box.
First, determine if the squirrel is truly in need of help. Sometimes, baby squirrels are temporarily separated from their mothers but are not necessarily orphaned. Observe from a distance to see if the mother returns. If the baby appears injured, cold, or in immediate danger (e.g., from predators or traffic), intervention may be necessary.
Wear Gloves: If you need to handle the baby squirrel, put on gloves to minimize human scent and reduce stress to the animal. Keep interactions brief and minimal to avoid habituation to humans.
Provide Temporary Warmth: If the squirrel seems cold, place it in a small, ventilated box with a soft cloth or towel for warmth. You can use a heating pad set on low or a warm water bottle wrapped in a cloth, but ensure that the squirrel can move away from the heat source to prevent overheating.
Contact a Wildlife Professional: Reach out to a local wildlife rehabilitator or animal control agency with experience in handling squirrels. They can provide guidance on the best course of action and may be able to take in the squirrel for proper care and rehabilitation.
Feeding (if necessary): If immediate assistance is needed and you cannot reach a wildlife professional promptly, you can offer a temporary solution by providing a specialized squirrel milk replacer formula, which is available at some pet stores or online. However, this should only be done as a last resort, as feeding a baby squirrel requires specialized and equipment.
Transport Safely: If you’re taking the squirrel to a rehabilitator, transport it in a well-ventilated container with air holes, lined with a soft cloth. Keep it as quiet and stress-free as possible during the journey.
What milk can baby squirrels drink?
The squirrel should be kept hydrated and be fed puppy replacement milk or kitten replacement milk using a syringe. (Without the needle; mix one part of milk with three parts of water) If they won’t take the fluids, put a drop on their lips or poke a drop in their mouth so they can taste some of it first.
The best option for feeding baby squirrels is a squirrel-specific milk replacer formula, which is specially formulated to meet their nutritional needs. These formulas are available from wildlife rehabilitation centers, veterinary clinics, or specialty pet stores. Examples include Fox Valley Formula 32/40 and Esbilac.
Puppy Milk Replacer: In a pinch, you can use a high-quality puppy milk replacer, but it should be mixed with additional ingredients to approximate the nutritional content of squirrel milk. Consult with a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian for guidance on how to do this.
Goat’s Milk: Some wildlife rehabilitators and caregivers use goat’s milk as an alternative, as it is closer in composition to squirrel milk than cow’s milk. However, it may still require supplementation to meet the squirrel’s specific nutritional requirements.
The instructions on the chosen formula carefully and to feed the baby squirrel using a small syringe or dropper. Feeding should be done gently, taking care not to force the liquid into their mouth, as this can cause aspiration.
How do I know if my baby squirrel is healthy?
A healthy baby squirrel, while in the hairless state, is bright pink all over, with pink gums and lips; it squirms, responds to touch, feels warm, and is fat and round.
A healthy baby squirrel should have a plump, rounded body with no visible bones. Its fur should be clean, soft, and free of mats or bald patches. There should be no discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Activity Level: Healthy baby squirrels are active and alert. They should be curious and responsive to their surroundings, showing interest in their environment.
Eating Habits: A healthy squirrel will have a good appetite and eagerly consume its formula or solid foods. It should gain weight steadily as it grows.
Hydration: Dehydration is a common concern in baby squirrels. Make sure the squirrel is well-hydrated by checking that its gums are moist, not dry or sticky. Offering clean, fresh water is, especially as the squirrel transitions to a solid diet.
Elimination: Healthy baby squirrels should urinate and defecate regularly. Check for the presence of feces in the enclosure or nesting area. The feces should be firm and well-formed.
Body Temperature: Squirrels are unable to regulate their body temperature effectively when they are very young. Make sure the baby squirrel is kept warm, but not overheated. They should feel warm to the touch but not hot.
Breathing: Observe the squirrel’s breathing. It should be steady and not labored or excessively rapid.
Parasites: Check for signs of external parasites like fleas or ticks, and consult a veterinarian if you notice any issues.
What to do if a baby squirrel is weak?
Initially, the baby can have as much hydration fluid as she will take. With severely dehydrated babies, offer fluids every half hour in between formula feedings. Very weak baby squirrels may only be able to take a few drops at a time, given every 15 minutes. Keep doing the pinch test to track your progress.
First, carefully observe the baby squirrel to determine the severity of its weakness and any underlying issues. Look for signs of dehydration, malnutrition, injury, or illness.
Provide Warmth: Weakness in baby squirrels can often be attributed to cold stress. Ensure the squirrel is kept warm by placing it in a small, ventilated container lined with soft, clean bedding. Use a heating pad set on low or a warm water bottle wrapped in a cloth to maintain a stable, gentle warmth. Be cautious not to overheat it.
Hydration: Dehydration can contribute to weakness. If the squirrel is very weak, you may need to offer an oral rehydration solution specifically designed for animals, available from pet stores or veterinarians. Administer the solution carefully with a dropper or syringe.
Nutrition: Provide a proper squirrel milk replacer formula or a rehydration solution with added nutrients to ensure the squirrel receives the necessary nutrition. Consult with a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian for guidance on feeding and appropriate amounts.
Contact a Professional: Reach out to a local wildlife rehabilitator or wildlife rescue organization with experience in squirrel rehabilitation. They can provide expert advice, assess the squirrel’s condition, and offer proper medical care if needed.
What diseases do baby squirrels carry?
Some of the more common include tularemia, typhus, plague, and ringworm. Such diseases are transmitted through bites or other forms of direct contact with infected squirrels. Tularemia, typhus, and plague have symptoms that mimic the flu and can be deadly when left untreated.
Squirrels can carry external parasites such as fleas and ticks, which may transmit diseases to humans or other pets. Be cautious when handling squirrels, and avoid direct contact with these parasites.
Internal Parasites: Squirrels can also harbor internal parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, and coccidia. These parasites can be transmitted through contact with the squirrel’s feces or contaminated environment.
Rabies: While the risk is relatively low, it’s essential to exercise caution, as squirrels, like all mammals, can potentially carry rabies. Avoid bites or scratches, and if you are bitten or scratched by a squirrel, seek immediate medical attention.
Leptospirosis: This bacterial disease can be transmitted to humans through contact with squirrel urine or contaminated water sources. It can cause flu-like symptoms and, in severe cases, lead to more serious health issues.
Salmonella: Squirrels can carry Salmonella bacteria, which can be transmitted through contact with their feces or contaminated surfaces. Practicing good hygiene and handwashing is essential when handling baby squirrels.
Mange: Squirrels can suffer from mange, a skin condition caused by mites. While it’s rare for humans to contract mange from squirrels, it’s best to avoid direct contact.
What age do baby squirrels open their eyes?
Baby squirrels’ eyes open at four weeks and they start to explore outside the nest at about six weeks old. They’re weaned by ten weeks and then quickly become independent at around 10-12 weeks.
Eastern gray squirrel kits usually open their eyes between 3 to 4 weeks of age. During this period, their eyesight begins to develop, allowing them to see the world around them.
Red Squirrels: Red squirrel kits tend to open their eyes around the same time, at approximately 3 to 4 weeks of age.
Fox Squirrels: Fox squirrel kits follow a similar pattern, typically opening their eyes between 3 to 4 weeks after birth.
That baby squirrels are born blind and rely on their sense of touch, smell, and hearing during the initial weeks of life. Once their eyes open, they gradually begin to explore their surroundings and become more visually aware of their environment.
Caring for a baby squirrel is a responsibility that requires dedication, and a deep commitment to the well-being of these small and fragile creatures. While it can be a rewarding experience, it’s essential to approach this task with the ultimate goal in mind, which may be either rehabilitating the squirrel for release into the wild or providing a permanent home if permitted by local regulations. Properly caring for a baby squirrel involves understanding their unique needs at different stages of development, from feeding and housing to medical care and socialization. Ultimately, your efforts can contribute to the preservation of these remarkable creatures and their place within the ecosystem.
Seeking from wildlife rehabilitators or veterinarians with expertise in wildlife care is invaluable in ensuring the best outcomes for these animals. That wild animals belong in their natural habitat whenever possible, so if your intention is to rehabilitate and release a baby squirrel, your efforts should focus on preparing them for a successful return to the wild. If you plan to provide long-term care for a squirrel, be sure to do so within the bounds of the law and with a commitment to providing a safe and nurturing environment. Caring for a baby squirrel is a rewarding journey that can contribute to the preservation of these remarkable creatures and the ecosystems they inhabit.
Proper care working in collaboration with wildlife experts, you can give these tiny creatures the best chance at a healthy and fulfilling life. In closing, the care of a baby squirrel is a noble endeavor that requires both compassion and a thorough understanding of their unique needs. It’s to approach this task with the utmost responsibility, recognizing the significance of your role in safeguarding these tiny lives. That baby squirrels, like all wild animals, deserve to live in their natural environment whenever possible. Whether your aim is to rehabilitate and release them into the wild or provide a permanent home, your commitment to their well-being is paramount.