If the animal appears to be warm and healthy, we suggest trying to reunite them with the mother. It is necessary to know how to take care of a baby squirrel. In the case of baby squirrels, if you do not reach the squirrel reunion, keep reading through it. This article will give an overview of how to take care of a baby squirrel.
How to take care of a baby squirrel?
Here are the steps and tips that will help you understand how to take care of a baby squirrel:
Ensuring Proper Warmth and Safety
Before administering any care to a baby squirrel, it’s crucial to ensure that the animal is warm to the touch. You can achieve this by preparing a warm water bottle placed in a container near the animal, being cautious not to make it too hot to avoid causing burns or distress. The primary goal is to maintain the squirrel’s body temperature to ensure it’s conducive to further care and feeding.
Rehydration and Basic Nutrient Solution
To provide initial hydration and basic nutrients to the baby squirrel, prepare a simple solution consisting of 1 cup of water, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar. Gently apply this solution to the squirrel’s tongue, taking care not to allow it to lean towards a syringe, bottle, or dropper. This solution helps address the immediate needs of the baby squirrel and aids in rehydration. Pet accessories on Amazon.
Milk Replacer as a Nutritional Solution
For a more substantial and nutritionally balanced option, milk replacers are recommended. Asbilac Papi milk replacer in powder form is a suitable choice and can be used safely for most mammals. Mix 1 part Asbilac with 2 parts hot water, allowing it to sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before the first use. Gradually introduce this formula to the squirrel over several feedings, increasing its strength each time. After 24 hours, the animal should be on a full-strength formula. Remember to keep the formula in the refrigerator and warm it before feeding.
An Alternative to Asbilac: Vanilla Flavor
If Asbilac is not readily available, you can use Vanilla Flavor as a temporary solution. This can often be found in grocery stores, pharmacies, and major retailers like Walmart and Target. Similar to the previous steps, administer the solution to the squirrel’s tongue and ensure it’s warm but not hot.
Avoid Cow’s Milk at All Costs
Crucially, under no circumstances should cow’s milk be used as a substitute for mammals, as it can be lethal to baby squirrels and other young animals. Proper mixing and careful attention to the squirrel’s warmth and safety are vital components of effectively caring for a baby squirrel.
Caring for Baby Squirrels: A Vital Resource
This information is an essential guide for those who find themselves in the position of caring for a baby squirrel, a task that should ideally be entrusted to licensed wildlife rehabilitators. The urgency of this advice cannot be overstated, as improper care often results in the unfortunate demise of these young creatures.
While this resource is invaluable for those unable to access a rehabilitator, it is crucial to emphasize that professional intervention is the best course of action. Baby animals, including squirrels, are not suited to domestic life and should not be kept as pets. Handling them unnecessarily can jeopardize their lives, and in many states, it’s illegal to possess wildlife without the appropriate license. It’s essential to spread awareness about what to do when encountering orphaned or injured wildlife, such as squirrels.
The Importance of Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators
Licensed wildlife rehabilitators possess the experience and knowledge necessary to ensure the well-being of these young animals. They provide proper nutrition, suitable enclosures, and eventual release back into their natural habitat. Wildlife, including squirrels, is not meant to be kept as pets. Their wild instincts are honed over time, and they require the right environment to prepare them for survival in the wild.
Crucial Guidelines for Baby Squirrel Care
These instructions are not intended for those seeking to raise squirrels as pets. Squirrels are not domesticated animals and should be treated as such. It’s imperative to always wear gloves when handling wild baby squirrels, as they can carry diseases and parasites and may bite even at a young age.
If you encounter an injured adult squirrel, it’s advisable to cover it with a laundry basket or box to protect it, but leave it where you found it and contact a wildlife rehabilitator or animal control operator for assistance. Proper care, nutrition, and release into the wild are essential components of nurturing a baby squirrel, and these guidelines should be closely followed to ensure their well-being.
Reuniting Baby Squirrels with Their Mother: The First Step
The initial step when encountering orphaned baby squirrels is to attempt to reunite them with their mother. If you suspect that the mother squirrel is still in the vicinity and you have a reasonable idea of where the babies originated, giving the mother a chance to reclaim her young is advisable. However, if a baby is unwell, injured, or suffering from a cold, the mother may not return to retrieve her offspring.
Detecting and Dealing with Fly Eggs
Fly eggs, which appear as tiny yellow dots or flakes on the babies, can evolve into maggots if left unattended. Babies that do not have fly eggs or maggots should be left with their mothers. However, if fly eggs are present, they must be promptly removed. It’s crucial to ensure the babies are warm and healthy before proceeding, and if there’s a chance the mother is still nearby, giving her about 2 hours to return is recommended.
Creating a Temporary Home for the Babies
In cases where the mother does not return within the specified time frame, it’s essential to provide a suitable temporary enclosure for the babies. This can be a box placed near the tree or area where they were found. The box should be secure to prevent the babies from escaping but accessible for the mother to enter and retrieve her young.
Ensuring Proper Temperature for Baby Squirrels
If the baby squirrels’ eyes are still closed, they require a heat source to maintain their warmth. Even on hot days, baby squirrels can quickly become cold. A soda bottle filled with warm water can be placed with the babies, but it must be carefully monitored to avoid overheating. A cloth or T-shirt can be wrapped around the bottle to prevent direct contact with the babies.
Observing from a Distance and Using Sound
Once the babies are in their temporary enclosure, it’s essential to observe from a distance to ensure their safety from potential predators. While maintaining a safe distance, use sound, such as recordings of a baby squirrel’s cries, to attract the mother back to her young. Avoid disturbing the mother, allowing her to return to the babies at her own pace.
Providing a Safe, Warm, and Quiet Environment
After the mother retrieves her babies, place them in a box lined with soft materials in a dark, warm, and quiet location away from children and pets. Change the bedding regularly, ensuring it does not have loose wires or loops that could harm the babies. If the babies feel cold, use a heating pad or warm water bottle wrapped in a T-shirt to maintain their warmth.
Monitoring and Addressing Health Concerns
While keeping the babies warm, check them for injuries. Any fractures should be addressed by a veterinarian, and open wounds must be cleaned with antibiotic cream. Common health problems that may arise are listed, and if you encounter such situations, seek professional help if possible. If immediate assistance is not available, follow the provided guidelines to help the baby squirrels.
Caring for baby squirrels requires vigilance, patience, and knowledge to ensure their well-being and eventual return to the wild. Pet accessories on Amazon.
Addressing Dehydration: A Critical Concern
Dehydration is a common issue when caring for orphaned baby animals. To check for dehydration, gently pinch the skin over the animal’s shoulder. If the skin remains tented for a few seconds, it indicates dehydration and fluid replenishment is imperative. Before introducing any other food, administer a hydrating solution like Pedialyte, which can be found in pharmacies and baby sections of grocery stores. Rushing to feed other foods is not advisable, as dehydrated animals may struggle to digest them, potentially leading to severe illness or death.
Combatting Maggot and Egg Infestations: Immediate Action Required
It’s not uncommon for orphaned baby animals to be infested with maggots or fly eggs. Promptly addressing this issue is crucial. Bathing the animal in warm water with mild dish detergent can help loosen the eggs, which must be removed immediately. Maggots, resembling small worms, should be carefully removed with pointed tweezers. In cases where maggots are found in sensitive areas like the ears, nose, throat, or anus, removing as many as possible and seeking immediate veterinary assistance is essential.
Managing Hypoglycemia and Weakness
Orphaned animals, especially those left alone for extended periods, may suffer from hypoglycemia due to low blood glucose levels. In such cases, offering a small amount of honey, corn syrup, or fruit jelly on the animal’s tongue can help alleviate a hypoglycemic attack.
Hydration and Feeding: Gradual Transition
For animals orphaned for an extended period, gradual rehydration and feeding are essential. Begin with Pedialyte every fifteen minutes in the first hour, then transition to formula and eventually introduce a suitable milk replacer like Sbilac Papi Milk Replacer. This process should not be rushed, and the animal should be transferred to the care of a veterinarian or experienced wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.
Wound Care and Antibiotics: Cat Bites and Injuries
Thoroughly clean any wounds with an antiseptic wash and inspect carefully, even through the fur, for puncture wounds. Cat bites, in particular, may be challenging to detect but can lead to severe infections if left untreated. Animals that have been in a cat’s mouth, even without visible wounds, should receive antibiotics to prevent infection.
Maintaining Body Temperature for Young Babies
Baby animals under five weeks of age struggle to maintain their body temperature, even in warm weather, until they develop this ability at around five weeks of age. Gently warming the baby through warm water baths and massaging to improve blood circulation is crucial for their survival.
Managing Fleas and Parasites
Certain flea treatments, such as kitten flea powder and Advantage Top Spot, can be safely used for squirrels. Avoid using Frontline, as it may not be as safe. When using flea powder, place the animal in a container with a layer of powder at the bottom, separated from the powder by a paper towel. If there’s a significant infestation, scrape off as many fleas as possible and then carefully apply the powder, starting from the nose and working towards the tail.
Handling Aspiration: Preventing Pneumonia
Aspiration can occur when a baby drinks too quickly, causing fluid to enter the nose or even the lungs. To prevent pneumonia, hold the baby with its head below to allow fluids to drain out if aspiration occurs. Once the baby is calm and the nose is clear, resume feeding. Pneumonia symptoms include clicking sounds in the throat, open-mouthed breathing, or nasal discharge. If such symptoms arise, seek immediate veterinary or wildlife rehabilitator assistance.
Handling Gastrointestinal Issues: A Delicate Balance
Gastrointestinal problems can arise in orphaned baby animals, especially if they are fed an inappropriate formula or excessive amounts of food. It is crucial to adhere closely to feeding instructions to prevent these issues. If the baby appears bloated, refrain from feeding or providing water until the bloating subsides. To alleviate gas, a few drops of human baby gas drops (simethicone) can be administered, along with gently massaging the baby’s stomach. A warm water bath for about five minutes, followed by drying and resting in a warm area for 15 minutes, can help relieve gas and promote bowel movements or urination.
Addressing Dehydration: A Common Concern
Dehydration is a common issue among orphaned baby animals, often due to separation from their mothers. It’s advisable to assume that any orphaned baby is somewhat dehydrated and prioritize rehydration. A suitable solution for rehydration is unflavored Pedialyte, readily available in most grocery stores and baby sections of pharmacies. If Pedialyte is unavailable, you can create your own by mixing 1 tablespoon of salt with 3 tablespoons of sugar in 1 quart of hot water. However, it’s essential to warm the baby first before rehydrating and ensure that the liquid is mildly warm, not hot or cold.
Proper Feeding Techniques: Avoiding Aspiration
Feeding techniques are vital to the well-being of orphaned animals. It’s recommended to use a small syringe, typically no larger than 1 cc or 3 cc, for feeding. Larger syringes may increase the risk of aspiration, which can be detrimental (see aspiration pneumonia above). Avoid using an eyedropper or baby bottle, as they allow the animal to gulp down the liquid easily, potentially causing aspiration. Feeding should be done in an upright position, not lying on the back. Feeding can be initiated once the baby is warm and rehydrated, typically using a formula suitable for baby squirrels like Esbilac or Milk Matrix Zoologic 33/40.
Formula Preparation and Gradual Transition
When preparing the formula, use powder from Esbilac, preferably mixing it thinner initially to ease digestion. Mixing one part powder with four parts water is a good starting point. For each subsequent feeding, concentrate the formula by adding less water until you are using 2 parts water to 1 part formula powder. The formula should be mildly warm but never hot. It’s crucial never to feed cow’s milk or similar substances, as they can be lethal to wildlife. Homemade formulas found on the internet are also not recommended, as they are often inappropriate and can have fatal long-term effects.
Monitoring Feeding Frequency and Quantity
Feeding frequency and quantity should be tailored to the age, size, and condition of the animal, rather than a strict adherence to age-based guidelines. A general guideline is to offer 5% of the animal’s body weight in formula. This can be measured in grams, where a squirrel weighing 100 grams would receive 5 ml of formula per feeding. Feeding frequency should vary with age, with younger squirrels needing more frequent feedings. Blind or newly sighted squirrel babies may require encouragement for urination and bowel movements, which can be achieved by gently stimulating their genital area with a warm, damp cloth.
Handling Gastrointestinal Issues
In cases where the baby hasn’t defecated or urinated for some time, it’s essential to check their stomach size before proceeding with another feeding. If the baby’s stomach remains enlarged from the previous feeding, it indicates poor digestion. Before resuming feeding, try to encourage the baby to pass gas or stool, as it might be experiencing gas, constipation, or bloating. Soaking the lower half of their body in warm water and massaging their back, sides, and stomach can help relieve these issues. It’s crucial to keep the baby warm throughout this process to ensure their well-being.
Transition to Solid Foods: A Crucial Milestone
Around 6 weeks of age, your squirrel is prepared to make the transition to solid foods, a pivotal phase in its development. Proper dietary choices are a key aspect of ensuring the well-being of your baby squirrel. Introduce a variety of solid foods into its diet, including calf, broccoli, apple, grapefruit, sweet potato, hard-shell nuts, and a high-quality balsamic meal, removed from the shell.
Opt for products to provide a balanced diet. Begin by feeding solid foods every few days once the squirrel demonstrates a preference for them. Monitor its eating habits and ensure it continues to gain weight before gradually reducing the frequency of feedings. To determine the squirrel’s age more accurately, refer to the Squirrel Information page for reference images of squirrels at different stages of development. Pet accessories on Amazon.
The Importance of Professional Wildlife Rehabilitation
It’s crucial to understand that this information is intended to assist you temporarily until you can reach a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Keeping wild animals as pets or attempting to raise and release them is not recommended, as the release process is a critical moment that requires the expertise of someone experienced in wildlife rehabilitation and equipped with the proper facilities. If a squirrel appears to “give up,” its chances of survival in the wild diminish. It is highly advisable to make every effort to contact a wildlife specialist.
In case you reside in the State of the City, you can reach out to me as your local rehabilitator, and I will gladly either take the animal from you or direct you to a nearby specialist. Please note that while most of the information provided can be applied to other mammals, the specific formula may vary depending on the species. It is crucial not to use different formulas without proper guidance, as using the wrong formula can pose serious risks to the animal, potentially leading to its demise.
Other Recommended Articles
- Chinese Striped Hamster – Profile | Traits | Facts | Pet | Diet | Habitat
- Common Degu – Profile | Traits | Facts | baby | Pet | Habitat | Diet
- Mongolian Gerbil – Profile | Traits | Facts | Colors | Lifespan | Habitat
- Feathertail Glider – Profile | Traits | Facts | Tail | Flying | Habitat
- Greater Glider Possum – Profile | Traits | Facts | Size | Baby
- Leadbeater’s Possum – Profile | Traits | Facts | Diet | Baby | Habitat
- Biak Glider – Profile | Traits | Facts | Diet | Habitat | Size
- Striped Possum – Profile | Traits | Facts | Pet | Diet | Call | Tail
- Common Brushtail Possum – Profile | Traits | Facts | Pouch | Diet
- Tiger Quoll – Profile | Traits | Facts | Range | Pet | Baby | Cute
- Honey Possum – Profile | Traits | Facts | Tongue | Habitat | Pouch
- Common Ringtail Possum – Profile | Traits | Facts
- Short-Nosed Bandicoot – Profile | Traits | Facts
- Long-Nosed Bandicoot – Profile | Traits | Facts | Pouch | Noise
- Gilbert’s Potoroo – Profile | Traits | Facts | habitat | Population
- Striped Grass Mouse – Profile | Traits | Facts | Pet | Habitat | Diet
- Desert Rat Kangaroo – Profile | Traits | Facts | Adaptations | Diet
- Musky Rat-Kangaroo – Profile | Traits | Facts | Habitat | Baby
- Northern Brown Bandicoot – Profile | Traits | Facts | Habitat | Diet
- Grey Dwarf Hamster – Profile | Facts | Traits | Cute | Baby | Lifespan