I found a baby squirrel. What do I do?
1. TRY TO REUNITE BABY WITH MOTHER. Always first try to reunite the baby tree squirrel with it’s mother. Please read this article for instruction. http://www.mary.cc/squirrels/reunite.htm If the baby is injured, cold, it’s night time or mom does not come to get it within 2-3 hours, the baby is probably orphaned and needs your help.
Check the chart below to see if you have a Fox or Grey tree squirrel, California Ground Squirrel, opossum or rat, what age and sex. Juvenile tree squirrels are old enough to be on their own if they have a big fluffy tail. Ground squirrels have white around the eyes, shorter less fluffy tails, are smaller and have white spots on their shoulders. If the baby has no claws or they are light colored, has a dark colored tail, it’s a baby rat. If it’s super small, it’s a baby mouse. If it has a long pointy snout with a partially pink tail, it’s a baby opossum. Below are the common squirrels in California.
WHAT TYPE OF SQUIRREL IS IT?
Photos are here
Not sure if it’s a baby Fox squirrel or California Ground Squirrel, click here for more photos and descriptions. http://www.mary.cc/squirrels/whatisit.htm
2. PICK THE BABY UP. Get a small box about a foot square, a cat carrier, a large Tupperware container (without the lid on) or another suitable container. Place some soft fabric at the bottom but not towels as they can get their claws stuck in the loops. Put on some thick leather gloves (they probably don’t have teeth but just to be safe). Gently pick up the baby. Take this opportunity to look at the baby to check for injuries, parasites, bleeding, bumps, puncture wounds. If they are bleeding quite a bit or you see obvious broken bones or serious injury, take them to a veterinarian ASAP.
3. GET THE BABY WARM. Hopefully you have a heating pad or electric blanket handy. Put the heating pad or blanket on low to medium depending upon type. Place the container on top of half of the pad. This way if it’s too hot, they can crawl off. Baby squirrels should be about 99 degrees F. They can’t regulate their own heat when they are babies so they need external heat. Be sure to check to make sure the container or squirrels don’t get too hot. Also check to make sure they’re warm. Some heating pads have automatic safety shut offs after so many hours. Place a towel over the top of the container to keep the heat in. If it’s a hot day, they may not need the towel over the top. If you don’t have a heating pad or blanket, you can use a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. Don’t let their skin touch the bottle or they can be burned. You can also use a latex exam glove filled with water, knotted and microwaved for about 30 seconds depending upon your oven power.
4. LOOK FOR A SQUIRREL REHABILITATOR. Call your local vets, animal shelters, humane societies, Fish & Game, Fish & Wildlife, Wildlife groups to get a referral for a local wildlife rehabilitator that takes in tree squirrels. Try these links for local rehabbers also http://www.tc.umn.edu/~devo0028/contact.htm http://www.wildlifecare.org/list.html You can also search online http://www.google.com Put in “squirrel rehabilitation” and your state and city. If no one picks up the phone, returns your call or gives you further instruction, it’s time to do a little more.
5. GET THE BABY HYDRATED. Most fallen babies will be dehydrated. You can see how dehydrated they are by gently pinching their skin. If the “tent” of skin stays there over a second or so, they are dehydrated. If they look wrinkly, have sunken in eyes, appear emaciated, they are dehydrated. Most super markets and drug stores carry Pedialyte in the baby section or their own brand of rehydrating baby fluid. Gerber has a brand also. Squirrels like fruit flavors but plain will do if it’s all they’ve got. If you can’t find Pedialyte, there is always Gatorade. If you’re nowhere near a store here is a homemade formula. One teaspoon salt, three teaspoons sugar mixed into one quart of warm water. We use oral syringes, i.e. syringes without needles, but you can use a clean eye dropper or an oral baby syringe. They also sell syringe feeders at Petco and Petsmart right next to the Esbilac puppy milk. Make sure the baby is warm before you give it any fluids or it won’t be able to process the fluids.
more info here http://www.mary.cc/squirrels/foundababy.htm
Feeding instruments Pedialyte
If they are tiny hairless pink babies about 2-3 inches long, you must be very careful giving them fluids. It’s easy to aspirate the babies and get the fluid in their lungs. This will give them pneumonia and they will probably die. Just put one tiny drop on their lips at a time and let them suck that in. If they have their eyes open, you can let them take the syringe in their mouth and gently give them a few drops. If a lot falls out of their mouth or comes out the nose, you’re going too fast. If you get some coming out their nose, hold them upside down instantly for 10 seconds then blot the fluids off their nose, out of their nostrils. Wait a minute before resuming. Make sure you give these fluids warm but not hot. Store unused amounts in the refrigerator.
If they won’t take the fluids, put a drop on their lips or poke a drop in their mouth so they can taste it first. Some will just open their mouths wide and start suckling away. I would give tiny eyes closed pink babies 1 cc every two hours, fully furred eyes closed babies 1-2 cc every two hours, eyes open babies 2-4 cc every three hours until a rehabber calls you back with instructions. (1 cc is about 20-25 drops from an eye dropper, 5 cc is 1 tsp)
Baby squirrels need to be stimulated to poo and pee when their eyes are closed. After each feeding of fluids you will need to gently wipe the genital and anal area with a warm moist cotton ball or Q-tip until they pee or poo. If they are very dehydrated and haven’t eaten in a while, they may not pee for a couple of feedings and may not poo for a day. Keep trying after every feeding time.
Baby squirrels may have parasites such as fleas, mites, ticks and maggots. Remove the fleas and maggots by hand with flea combs or tweezers. Petco also sells flea and mite sprays made specifically for small animals such as hamsters. If it’s a baby pinky, do not apply anything to the squirrel. Put the spray on cloth around the baby. Do not spray into wounds.
6. STILL NO REHABBER. It’s illegal to hold wildlife over 48 hours without a permit. It’s illegal to try and rehabilitate wildlife yourself. It’s illegal to keep wildlife as a pet. There are squirrel rehabilitation manuals and information on the internet. I legally can’t tell you any more than this legally. I became a rehabber because I found a baby squirrel and no rehabilitator would take the squirrel because they were all full. Fish & Game told me to throw it back outside and let it become part of the food chain. I didn’t do that. That squirrel is alive and well today living in my neighborhood. She comes to visit me from time to time to say thanks. Thank you for caring for the baby squirrels.
7. IF THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY TO GET TO A REHABBER. EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS ONLY.
You’ve just gone through a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, wildfire, tsunami, mudslide or other natural disaster. Rehabbers are wiped out, roads and stores are closed. I’m sure local authorities would understand. Here are manuals for caring for tree and ground squirrels.
http://www.mary.cc/squirrels/rehabbers.htm If you have no Esbilac puppy formula, use these temporary formula substitutes in this order of preference. Any puppy formula, any kitten formula, goats milk, human baby formula, human breast milk, evaporated milk, regular milk, soy milk, powdered milk, half and half, whipping cream and water, cremola and water, sweetened liquid cremola, non-dairy creamer, soy milk, pedialyte/gatorade only, plain water… As soon as you find a better formula, slowly change the formula to the preferred one. If their eyes are open, you can give baby food, shelled nuts, bits of avocado, apple, grape, apple sauce… The manual goes into problems with diarrhea, fleas, injuries, pneumonia, paralysis, genital suckling and treatment.
8. WHAT WE DO WITH THE BABY SQUIRRELS. We as in rehabbers will nurse the babies until they are old enough to eat on their own. Then we will teach them how to eat soft and hard foods. When they can eat on their own, we take them from the indoor cages and put them into large 8′ tall outdoor cages. Here they learn how to find food, build a regular squirrel nest, climb, jump and interact with other juvenile squirrels. When they are 4.5 to 5 months of age we will release the squirrels within two miles of where they were found. This will probably be your back yard if you wish. We will put them in an outdoor nest box which we will wire to a tree or post. After a few days they will leave their box and build their own nest. They will be able to find food and fend for themselves by this time.
Thank YOU for saving the babies’ lives!