Days old grey squirrel
Most people we know enjoy watching the antics of the squirrels that visit or live in their back yards.
Squirrels are intelligent and adaptable, and they make nests in tree cavities and in balls of leaves tucked carefully into the branches of trees. When natural nesting areas aren't available, they can also be found in attics, or vents, or even inside the engine compartment of a vehicle!
They are busy all year round, but do disappear when the weather is cold or wet--or when the females are in the nest with their young.
Squirrel species (grey, fox, flying, and red) are the second most commonly admitted mammal to many rehabilitators in the United States. While people don't usually see babies in their back yard (they don't venture out of the nest until their eyes have been open a couple of weeks), they ARE there.
For those of you who enjoy your squirrel neighbors, we thought you might like to know what to do if you find a squirrel baby out of the nest and in need of help.
JUST THE FACTS
Squirrels have two litters of young every year. The first is born in late winter and the second in fall.
Squirrel mothers are very devoted to their young and nurse them frequently in the nest.
Newborns are pink, hairless, deaf, and blind. They weigh about 1/3 of an ounce and are 1 inch long.
Squirrels open their eyes at 4 weeks, but they don't venture out of the nest until they're about 8 weeks old.
The spring babies stay with their mother until the second litter is born, and then they disperse to find their own nest.
Fall babies stay with their mother through the winter.
Squirrels are not a rabies-vector species.
Squirrels are diurnal; they are only active during the day-time.
SQUIRREL OUT OF THE NEST
If you find an eyes-closed baby or young squirrel on the ground, the first thing you need to do is cover it with a laundry basket so that it is not hurt or taken by a predator, like a cat or hawk. Give it something soft and warm to cuddle into before covering it with the basket.
Weight the basket down with something heavy on top so that it can't be moved by a big animal, like a dog.
TIP: Don't use towels with baby animals. They do not provide warmth and the strings can cause injury.
PROVIDE SUPPLEMENTAL HEAT: 'Pinkie' squirrels have little fur and chill easily, older babies may have their eyes open, but also need supplemental heat if they are on the ground.
Baby animals cannot thermoregulate (stay warm) until they are older.
SEE the picture below for how to provide warmth to a baby.
Contact your local licensed wildlife rehabilitator for advice and direction.
SEE the link below to find your local wildlife rehabiltiator.
TIP: NEVER give water, formula or other fluids to a baby squirrel or other wild baby. A chilled or starving animal needs professional attention before it can be fed anything, or it could die.
WHY DO SQUIRRELS GET ORPHANED?
Squirrels get separated from mom when their nests are destroyed during tree cutting, or if mom is killed by a predator (like a hawk), or has been injured or killed in the road.
Mother squirrels do not abandon their babies.
A baby squirrel that walks up to you or your pet needs help.
PLEASE: Do not just walk away. Do not take babies to another location. They will not survive.
CAN BABIES EVER BE REUNITED WITH MOTHER AFTER THEY FALL FROM THE NEST?
YES! But only with the advice of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who will walk you through the situation and be with you every step of the way.
If reuniting is not successful before dark, the babies MUST be brought to the wildlife rehabilitator.
Mother squirrels will not come to their babies after dark.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about your busy backyard friends.
THANK YOU for your gifts that will make care possible for the squirrel babies that will come to us for care this spring.
2.5 week old grey squirrel
4 week old grey squirrel
Providing warmth to wild babies