Baby Squirrel Care
First try to get the baby to a licensed rehabber. That is the best way to ensure the squirrel will get the proper care and the best chance to be released and live like he is supposed to be...a wild squirrel.
Never Feed a Cold Baby until they are fully hydrated, they should not be fed as their body cannot process the nutrients until they are 1. warm and 2. hydrated.
Getting Baby Warm
Warm the baby by putting him or her next to your skin under your shirt for an 1/2 hour or more or you can place baby in a container with a lid making sure there are holes for ventilation. All containers for baby must have a lid as even small babies will climb out. All babies will need a heat source until they are fully furred and healthy. Place a nice clean baby blanket or flannel shirt in the bottom of the box. Gather it together and then make a pocket in the middle of the blanket with your fist and put baby in the pocket pulling the material close around him. Take a heating pad and turn it on low and place under half of the box or container. This will allow baby to climb to unheated half of the box if baby gets to warm. Place a towel folded twice between the bottom of the box and the heating pad. If baby is unable to move on his own, be sure to monitor the temperature of baby very closely, so baby does not overheat. A normal squirrel
temperature is 99 degrees. They should feel warm to the touch.
Checking for Injuries
Check for external injuries, broken bones, respiratory problems or signs
of internal injury. All of these problems need to be taken care of by a veterinarian immediately. Bites, scratches and very shallow cuts can be cleaned with 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 3 parts water and then covered with Neosporin plus. Apply at least 2 times a day until healed. All CAT BITES must be seen by the vet as cat bites are fatal for squirrels. They must have antibiotics for this and this must be done in the first 24 hours or they will die from the cat injury. There is a bacteria in cat saliva that is deadly to squirrels unless antibiotics are given within the first 24 hours of the injury. Try to find a veterinarian who has treated wild animal as not all have done so. If you cannot go to a Veterinarian then give the baby to a rehabber who can as it will die without treatment. You should also check to see if baby has any external parasites like fleas or maggots. If baby has fleas get Adams Flea mist and spray on your hands and rub on baby. Do not get it near their face and never spray directly on them or use powder on them. Maggots must be hand removed and will usually be found on an open wound. You can pick them off and then use 1/4 part hydrogen peroxide mixed with 3/4 warm water to flush out the wound to remove any remaining maggots and eggs. Look in all body openings for them. It only takes a short period of time before maggots make their way to major organs. If you cannot deal with this yourself, take baby to the veterinarian immediately.
Rehydrate baby before you feed them
Most baby squirrels when you find them, are dehydrated and must be rehydrated before you can feed them formula. You must warm them up first (see above) before you try to rehydrate them. You can use Pedialyte to do this. You can purchase the small bottles now. Get the plain kind. Be sure to warm it slightly and to refrigerate it after opening the bottle. It is only good for 48 hours after opening if you can’t get Pedialyte you can make it yourself. Homemade Pedialyte is meant only for situations wherein, for some reason, you cannot get Pedialyte or lactated ringers. It is not a full electrolyte solution, but is better than nothing.
1 cup water
1 Pinch Salt
1 Pinch Sugar
Formula & How to mix it
after the baby is hydrated and for the first formula feeding . Mix 1 part 33/40 to 2 parts hot water. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before first use, longer if possible . When first starting formula add a little extra water to the formula for the first few feedings making the formula closer to full strength with each feeding. After 24 hours the animal should be on full strength formula. Keep the formula refrigerated. Never feed cows milk or human baby formula to squirrels it will kill them!
Do not overfeed. The belly should be full and round but not tight. A good guideline to use is the animal should be getting 5% formula to his body weight. If you have a small scale that can measure grams you can figure the feedings that way. A squirrel weighing 100 grams would get 5% of his body weight at a feeding, or 5 ml of formula. But remember, that is only a guideline, every animal is different.
Never, never use pet nurser bottles, or doll bottles. They can choke
the baby and will kill him or her.
You will need some syringes (without the needles of course) 1 to 3cc for the very small baby and 5cc for the larger baby. You can buy small nipples to go on the syringe. I use the silicone nipples for the small babies or the Miracle Nipples. Mix the formula in a clean jar and keep in the refrigerator. Use very warm water so the powder dissolves. Only warm up the amount you will be using at each feeding. Pull the formula up in the syringe and feed baby very carefully.. Sometimes they will suck so fast that they choke. Stop and hold baby upside down so the liquid drains out and then wipe baby's nose and mouth and start over slower.
How old is the Squirrel Baby?
- 1 to 5 days - tiny, the size of a woman's thumb - knuckle to tip - and totally pink; no hair at all.
- 5 to 10 days - development of soft, reddish, sable hair around nose and mouth.
- 10 days to 2 weeks - a grayish purple shadow begins spreading over the head, shoulders, and back; the belly and legs are still bright pink.
- 2 to 3 weeks - grayish-purple color deepens until the emerging hair is long enough to be identified as hair.
- 3 weeks - the baby's lower front teeth begin emerging. Hair is now slick, smooth, and shiny. Still no hair on legs and belly.
- 4 weeks - has light grayish-brownish hair all over, except lower legs and belly and under tail. Some downy white hair beginning on belly and legs.
- 5 weeks - thicker hair, including legs and belly. Tail hair is short, straight, and lies parallel with the bone. Eyes open.
- 5 to 6 weeks - upper front teeth begin emerging. Begins curling tail over back.
- 6 to 7 weeks - fully furred, sleeping less with more active periods.
- 7 to 8 weeks - tail is fluffy. Should be placed in a cage with plenty of room to play.
- 8 to 9 weeks - looks like a miniature squirrel. Very active and shredding your sweaters, curtains, furniture, and arms with its claws. Has lost infant appearance.
- 9 to 10 weeks - develops more muscular physique.
- 10 to 12 weeks - about 3/4 full size
- Amounts to feed and this is not written in stone. More or less may be eaten.
0 to 2 weeks - 1/2 cc to 1 cc at each feeding. Feed every 2 hours around the clock
2 to 3 weeks-2 to 3 cc at each feeding. Feed every 3 hours around the
3 to 4 weeks-3 to 4 cc at each feeding Every 3 hours
4 to 7 weeks formula every 4 hours
From 6 weeks on they should start to eat solid food (Zupreem monkey
biscuits and start on small pieces of veggie) in addition to 6 to 12 cc of
formula, 2 to 3 times a day.
I always give formula until they wean themselves. I understand fox squirrels will eat more than this but I have no experience with them so cannot say how much. Play it by ear. When your baby gets around 5 to 6 weeks old you can start adding small
amount of ground up Zupreem monkey biscuits to the formula or soak 1/2 of a biscuit in the formula and give to him. This gets them used to the taste of it so when the time comes for them to eat whole biscuits, they are already familiar with it. Just use a small amount as too much will clog the syringe. Only mix it in the amount you are going to feed not the whole jar.
You will have to help the small baby eliminate their waste. They cannot do it for themselves until their eyes are open. The easiest way is to take a kleenex and tickle the genital area until the produce waste. This is what the mom squirrel does when she licks and cleans her babies. Sometimes this can take up to 2 minutes so be patient. They should do both wet and little poops. If the dry kleenex does not work you may use a warm damp cotton ball and stroke the genitals till you get results. This should be done after every meal until they can do it for themselves at around 5 weeks of age.
Feeding the Older Baby
Once the baby reaches 5 weeks he should have all his fur and his eyes are open. This is the time to start adding solid food. Zupreem Monkey Biscuits are the very best squirrel food. They are nutritionally balanced and they provide the nutrients for proper growth. Start them as soon as they can have solid food. Leave some in their cage at all times. Again you can get the monkey biscuits at my store or at a pet shop. Just be sure to use nothing but Zupreem Monkey Biscuits. Place 1/2 of one in the cage and they will try it. They will make a big mess at first as they learn to eat. After they are eating the Zupreem well, you can now start adding other things like grape halves,
pieces of green beans, peas, pieces of corn on the cob, small pieces of romaine lettuce, broccoli, squash,, and cucumber (peel if waxed), sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, okra, mushrooms, avocado, cauliflower and do not put all these foods in at once. Give small pieces of some of them till the squirrel is eating them good. Then vary the diet from day to day. You may add 1/2 piece of pecan for a treat. Always give small fresh pieces at first and never ever feed something that looks or smells bad. They also like fruit like apple (no seeds), raisins, strawberries and most every fruit. Go slowly at first and allow them time to get used to the food. No salted food at all This is the time to add a dish of water or water bottle. The water doesn’t get dirty by them dropping food in it. Use fresh water daily. Keep on feeding the formula you were using (from the syringe)
until the squirrel decides he does not want it anymore. This could be 12 weeks or more.
Releasing back to the wild
Now we need to talk about releasing the baby you have raised. Sometimes they are not releasable due to some injury or size of animal or their teeth. If you are in doubt please check with a rehabber or your vet. Never release a baby before it is 4 months old. They are too small and they have no sense. They are Predator bait as they have no experience out in the wild usually their mom teaches them all this the absence of their mother to teach them to be savvy in the wild clearly delays their development and demises their chances for survival in the wild. They do not have her to warn and teach them of danger, they do not have a nest and how will they learn their food is high in the trees. After all your hard work and care and expense, why would you put them out there before they are ready, just to become predator food? They have no sense of danger until after 4 months of age when at some point their instinct to be wary kicks in.. Never release in the winter. Do it in the spring or summer so they have time to adjust before cold weather sets in. be sure in the spring the trees are beginning to leaf out, providing them with a source of food and cover to avoid being a hawks lunch. When you release do it as a soft release, by that I mean allow the squirrel to come back to sleep and for food until it is ready to stay out on its own. Some type of outdoor shelter will allow it to do that. Make this shelter before you release the squirrel and allow the baby to get used to the outside. Make sure it is safe and predator proof and as large as you can afford. They also will need a sleeping house that is dry and warm placed in the shelter. Provide water and
food for the squirrel. Leave the baby in here for at least 2 weeks to allow him to get used to all the sounds and smells and then open the door in the morning and let him out. Leave the door open so he can come and go and provide food and water as long as he wants it .Close the door at night after he returns so no predator can get in to hurt him. Be sure to let him out every morning. He will come back for a while until he is sure about the outside. Never just take the animal out in the woods and release him. If you cannot release him in your yard, please take him to a rehabber who will do it. They do this all the time and are experienced at it. Your squirrel will thank you.