Finding and Caring for Baby Squirrels

Finding and Caring for Baby Squirrels: A Comprehensive Guide

Stumbling upon a baby squirrel can be unexpected and leave you questioning what to do. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to care for baby squirrels, whether to return them to their nest, and how to identify first-time finders.

What to do when you find a baby squirrel on the ground?

Identifying signs of an orphan baby squirrel

When you find a baby squirrel on the ground, determining whether it is an orphan is important. An orphan baby squirrel may be found on the ground with no nearby nest, appear injured, or be aggressively approached by other animals. A baby squirrel approaching humans may also be an indication that the animal is orphaned.

Safe ways to place the baby back into the nest

If you’re confident that the mother squirrel is nearby, it’s usually best to return the squirrel to its nesting tree. Gently place the baby squirrel in a container and secure it to the tree, near the immediate area where the squirrel was found. From a distance, observe the baby squirrel to see if the mother returns to collect it.

When to call a wildlife rehabilitator

If the baby squirrel is obviously injured, if it doesn’t appear that there is a nest nearby, or if the mother does not return after a few hours, it’s time to call a wildlife rehabilitator. These experts have the knowledge and resources to care for wild animals and maximize their chance of survival.

How to determine the age of the baby squirrel?

Estimating age by physical appearance: fur, ears, and eyes open

Baby squirrel development is categorized into different stages, e.g., their eyes open at four weeks, and they have fur covering their bodies by six weeks old. By observing these physical characteristics, you can estimate the age of the baby squirrel.

Developmental milestones in grey squirrels and other species

Understanding developmental milestones within specific squirrel species, such as grey squirrels, will help you estimate the age more accurately. Grey squirrels, for example, reach juvenile stage at six weeks of age and are usually fully independent by twelve weeks.

Understanding the typical litter size and growth rates

Squirrel litter sizes vary depending on the species, with gray squirrels usually having three-four young squirrels in a litter. Knowing the typical growth rate and litter size will help you better understand the needs and timeline of care for the baby squirrel.

Reunite or care: What’s best for orphan squirrels?

How to increase the chances of being reunited with its mother

It is always best for baby squirrels to be reunited with their mother if possible. To increase the chance, return the squirrel to the place it was found and safely secure a container to the tree containing the baby squirrel. Monitor the baby squirrel from a distance, giving the mother the opportunity to return and fetch it.

When to consider the baby squirrel truly orphaned

If the mother squirrel has not returned after several hours, or if there are clear signs that the baby squirrel is in danger (e.g., injured or threatened by other animals), it is time to consider the baby squirrel orphaned and take appropriate action.

Understanding the importance of caring for wild animals

Caring for wild animals, such as orphan squirrels, is an important responsibility. By assisting these creatures and ensuring their survival, you contribute to preserving the balance of the ecosystem and the natural world.

Creating a temporary habitat for baby squirrels you just found

Keeping the baby squirrel warm: using a sock or other materials

It’s important to keep the baby squirrel warm after it has been found. Place the baby squirrel in a sock or wrap it in a soft cloth, and place it in a warm environment. This will help maintain the animal’s body temperature, which is crucial for its survival and well-being.

Providing the right food and water for baby squirrels

Feeding the baby squirrel appropriately is essential to its health. Avoid cow’s milk, as it can be harmful to squirrels. Consult with a wildlife rehabilitator to recommend appropriate food and water sources for the baby squirrel.

Mimicking the natural environment to reduce stress

Reduce the stress experienced by the baby squirrel by mimicking its natural environment. Keep the baby squirrel in a dark, quiet place and limit the amount of handling to a minimum. This can help minimize stress and improve its chances of recovering and thriving.

Preparing to release the rehabilitated baby squirrel back into the wild

Ensuring the squirrel is fully recovered and ready for release

Before releasing the baby squirrel back into the wild, ensure it is fully rehabilitated and healthy enough to survive. Consult with a wildlife rehabilitator to help determine the readiness of the squirrel for release.

Choosing the right time and location for release

Release the rehabilitated baby squirrel in an area known to have other squirrels and choose a proper release time, such as early morning or late evening when squirrels are most active. This will help the squirrel reintegrate back into the wild with minimal stress.

Monitoring the baby squirrel’s progress post-release

Monitor the baby squirrel from a distance, after its release, to ensure a successful transition back into the wild. If there are any concerns, consult with a wildlife rehabilitator for guidance and support.

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