EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS:

***IMPORTANT PRECAUTIONS – READ BEFORE PROCEEDING***

Whenever you make the decision to handle wildlife, you are doing so at your own risk. Please follow instructions carefully and take appropriate precautions.

These instructions do not take the place of qualified wildlife rehabber care. They are provided only to help keep the baby squirrel alive if you have been unable to reach a rehabber within several hours, or must keep the baby overnight. A squirrel may have internal parasites, ticks, fleas, or other problems. The baby needs to be examined by a qualified rehabber, even if it appears to be healthy. Contact a permitted Wildlife Rehabber in your area as soon as possible for the baby's sake and for your own safety.

OVERNITE CARE FOR OLDER BABIES (“JUVENILE” SQUIRRELS)

A juvenile squirrel should be able to eat some soft foods and drink on its own, if it is not injured or ill. Below is a picture of a juvenile that is a bit older, and may be able to nibble at some soft food and drink on its own.

 Use a heavy pair of garden gloves or a towel/heavy rag if you must handle a juvenile squirrel or put your hand in it’s container for any reason.

Do not handle without heavy garden gloves or a heavy cloth as they can deliver a bite and scratch at this age if they get afraid or are very hungry.

At this age, a pet carrier is best with soft bedding. Place a heating pad set on low under half of the container. A strong cardboard box with tall sides and ventilation holes on top can also be used, but keep in mind an older juvenile squirrel may be able to chew out. so keep an eye on them. For orphaned or injured juveniles approxmately 8 weeks old (they can drink and eat some soft foods by themselves), You can provide a jar lid/small dish of water in their container. If they can eat on their own, you can put in a little bit of chopped apple, a dab of applesauce, nuts, a few Cheerios, broccoli, soft corn,twigs, leaves (note: no grapes as they can choke on them, and no cherry twigs as they are toxic to squirrels). This should be all that is needed until you talk to a rehabber. (Although this care provides a bit of nutrition and fluids, it is not an optimal diet. Squirrels can develop metabolic bone disease (MBD) if they are fed a diet that lacks certain important nutritional components).

OVERNITE CARE FOR YOUNGER BABY SQUIRRELS:

A squirrel this size needs care appropriate to its size/age. This section describes what to do.

Step 1

Read through this entire section before attempting any of the following steps. Keep a heating pad set on low under half of the baby’s container. Once the baby feels warm, you can continue to step 2.

Step 2

Helping the very young baby (eyes not yet opened) urinate/defecate If the baby's eyes are not open, it cannot urinate or defecate on its own.

Equipment needed

Clean latex gloves, some cotton balls, cotton swabs for stimulating urination/defecation, something handy to clean your hands with, such as wet wipes, as this job can get a bit messy, tissues, paper towels, a soft cloth to hold the baby in, plastic bag for waste, a small container of warm water.

Wear latex gloves or hold the baby in a small soft cloth.

Gently and repeatedly tap the genital area with a warm moistened cotton ball. Sometimes it takes awhile. If the baby is dehydrated, you may not see results, and you can try again later.

Remember to wash hands thoroughly afterwards, and place waste materials immediately into a plastic trash bag where people and pets can’t accidentally come into contact with it.

Step 3

Fluid Replacement It is best not to attempt to feed a very small baby. It's best to do nothing and wait for a rehabber to respond to your call. However, dehydration can be a problem if you have not been able to locate a rehabber for several hours, or you must keep a baby overnight. Also in cases of emergencies, such as after a hurricane, you may not be able to reach a rehabber for an extended period of time. Please call a rehabber in your area before attempting to provide fluids for a small baby squirrel if at all possible! You can also try contacting a vet that is experienced with wildlife care. Keep in mind that (in general), most vets are trained for domestic animal care, and may not be trained in caring for specific wildlife species. (However a vet may be able to provide fluids under the baby’s skin, to keep the baby hydrated until a rehabber is located). Improper feeding techniques can result in aspiration pneumonia, which can be very difficult to treat, resulting in the baby's death.

SAFE FLUIDS TO USE

The best fluid replacement is warmed lactated Ringers solution. Ringers is best absorbed by the baby's body. If you have other pets, you may have this on hand. If not, it can be obtained from a vet.

If lactated Ringers is not available, you can attempt to give warmed Pedialyte or the generic equivalent. Do not give Gatorade or any other sugary fruit type drinks.

You can use the following homemade rehydration substitute if you are unable to obtain Pedialyte. The homemade solution is not very good, but it will do if you cannot obtain Pedialyte. Here is the recipe:

This is a poor substitute for proper fluid replacement, but may be sufficient until a rehabber is located.

Do not attempt to feed any type of formula before you contact a qualified rehabber. If you are told to feed milk, or other human baby formulas, do NOT, as this can make a baby squirrel ill. A formula that works for a puppy, bunny, kitten, or human can make a squirrel baby sick. Let the rehabber know when you talk to them if you have accidentally done so, so that they can help the baby accordingly.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

It’s best to administer fluids with a very small pet medicine syringe (0.5-1.0cc/ml). If you don’t have one, you can also use a very clean, small eyedropper. Keep in mind, that you must be able to control the flow to one drop at a time. You also need a way of keeping the Pedialyte warm during feeding (Usually we pour a bit of warmed Pedialyte into a baby food jar, and then keep the baby food jar in another container of warm water). You will also need gloves (and some paper towels). Latex gloves are fine for small babies whose eyes have not yet opened.

HOW MUCH FLUID TO ADMINISTER

For exact directions on how much to feed, you need to approximate the age of the baby by using the photos in the next section. This is important to do before you attempt to administer any fluids. Step 5 tells you how much to administer based on age. The baby should feel warm to the touch before feeding fluid.

STEP 4

Age Specific Fluid Replacement

!!!READ ALL OF THE EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS SECTION ABOVE BEFORE CONTINUING!!!

 If you have problems doing any of the following, stop immediately and wait to talk with a rehabber. It is better to do nothing and just keep the baby safe from harm, than to continue with something you are unsure of that can harm the baby. Never try to force a baby to eat. Make sure the baby is warm before any fluids can be given!

NEWBORNS TO 2 WEEK OLD GREY SQUIRREL

This is a newborn “pinkie” squirrel. They are born with tiny fingernails and toenails:

The baby below is being moved by its mother to another nest site, and looks to be about 1.5-2 weeks old.

The baby in the next picture is approximately 1.5 weeks old, and has a grayish cast on the head, where the fur is barely beginning to grow.

For a baby that looks like the above photos, read all of the emergency instructions section thoroughly, AND MAKE SURE THE BABY IS WARM BEFORE BEGINNING.

Be extremely careful giving fluids to an eyes closed baby. These babies are so tiny, they can easily aspirate (inhale) the fluid and are prone to inhalation pneumonia, as well as bloating and diarrhea. This can mean death for the baby.

It is best to give fluids one drop at a time. You may have to experiment a bit to get the baby to take fluid from a tiny pet syringe or dropper. Sometimes just putting a drop of fluid on its mouth or your latex gloved finger, will give it the idea.

Using a small (0.5-1.0cc) pet medicine syringe or eye dropper, you can feed the warm Pedialyte solution described in the step 3 section above.

Feed only one drop at a time.

Feed no more than 1/8 teaspoon total amount at one feeding time (which is approximately .05 cc if you have a pet medicine syringe). If you don't have a small syringe or dropper, you can try wearing a clean latex glove and put a warm drop of the solution on the tip of a finger and let them lap it off.

Hold the baby up at about a 30 degree angle, and feed one drop at a time.

Do not let the baby inhale the fluid. Hopefully by this time help has arrived.

If you are unsure that you are doing this correctly at any time. STOP until you contact a rehabber. You can give fluids about every 3 hours until help arrives if you can’t locate a rehabber. This is not the best way to feed, but may at least keep a very small baby alive until you can get help.

If at any time the baby coughs fluid, STOP immediately and try again later. Angle the baby downward, to assist the fluid out of its lungs. If at any time, you are not having luck with this, stop and wait until help arrives. If you cannot locate a rehabber in your area, or have problems at any time, stop and email me at squirlwhirl@wi.rr.com

3 –4 WEEK OLD GREY SQUIRREL

In the photos below, you can see their eyelids have formed now, and their ear flaps have pulled away from their head. Tails are very thin and silvery furred.

For a 3-4 week old baby squirrel, read all of the emgergency instructions section thoroughly, AND MAKE SURE THE BABY IS WARM BEFORE BEGINNING. Same care and fluid administration instructions as for the newborn-2 week old babies, although you can increase the amount of warm Pedialyte solution given one drop at one time (total amount between 1/8-1/4 teaspoon) by a small pet syringe (this is about .8cc if you have a marked syringe) or eyedropper of the warm unflavored Pedialtye described in the step 3 section above, every 4 hours. Hold the baby up at about a 30 degree angle, and feed one drop at a time. Do not let the baby inhale the fluid! This is not the best fluid replacement, but may at least keep the baby alive until you can get help. If at any time the baby coughs fluid, STOP immediately. Angle the baby downward, to assist the fluid out of its lungs. and wait to speak with a rehabber or try again later. If at any time, you are not having luck with this, stop and wait until help arrives. Hopefully by this time help has arrived. If this procedure doesn't seem to be working, you can also try putting on a clean latex glove and seeing if the baby will lick drops of the fluid off. At this age, you may or may not have to stimulate the baby to urinate or defecate...check the bedding to see if the baby is doing so on its own.

5-6 WEEK OLD GREY SQUIRREL

You can see below that at approximately 5 weeks old, the baby squirrel is furred, ears are open, and its eyes are either open or will be opening soon.

They have a very thin long body with long, lanky feet and hands. The tail is still thin.

The syringe in the photo is not filled with milk. It is a specially ordered squirrel formula mix.

Read all of the emgergency instructions section thoroughly, AND MAKE SURE THE BABY IS WARM BEFORE BEGINNING.

You can increase the amount of the warm unflavored Pedialtye or substitute solution, every 4 hours given one or two drops at one time to a maximum of 1/4 teaspoon by syringe (about 1.2 cc if you have a marked syringe) or eyedropper.

At this age, you may or may not have to stimulate the baby to urinate or defecate...check the bedding to see if it is doing so on its own.

Keep the baby up at about a 30 degree angle and feed one drop at a time.

Do not let the baby inhale the fluid.

If at any time the baby coughs fluid, STOP immediately.

Angle the baby downward, to assist the fluid out of its lungs and try again later. If at any time, you are not having luck with this, stop and wait until help arrives.

Babies between 5 and 6 weeks can vary a lot in size. Again, only administer one or two drops of the warm Pedialyte solution at a time, as they will literally grab the syringe and choke on the fluid.

 Depending on the size of the squirrel, you can increase the total amount given at one time to 1/2 tsp. (up to approx. 2.5cc on a pet medicine syringe) every 4 hours until help arrives.

Hold the baby up at about a 30 degree angle and feed one drop at a time.

Do not let the baby inhale the fluid.

If at any time the baby coughs fluid, STOP immediately Angle the baby downward, to assist the fluid out of its lungs. You can try again later. If at any time, you are not having luck with this, stop and wait until help arrives. This is not ideal by any means, but will at least provide some extra fluid and energy until help arrives.

6-7 week old Juveniles

Squirrels at this age are shown below. Note that the eyes are open, and they are beginning to look more like a miniature adult squirrel. They are beginning to just shred and nibble at soft food. Their tails are getting fluffed and they can be very energetic. Their bodies are more in proportion to their features, except for their feet and legs which are big in relation to the rest of their body. They are attempting to sit up, but are still quite wobbly. The 2 squirrels in the picture below are approximately between 6-7 weeks old.

Read all of the emgergency instructions section thoroughly, AND MAKE SURE THE BABY IS WARM BEFORE BEGINNING.

If you must pick up the squirrel, use a pair of garden gloves or a string free cloth. Squirrels do not have good close vision, and you can get nipped or scratched by accident.

You can administer the warm unflavored Pedialyte solution with a pet syringe or eyedropper a drop at a time, up to 1/2 tsp. (up to approx. 2.5cc on a pet medicine syringe) every 4 hours until help arrives.

 Again, one or two drops at a time as they will literally grab the syringe and choke on the fluid.

Keep the baby upright at about a 30 degree angle (ideally) and feed one drop at a time.

Do not let the baby inhale the fluid.

If at any time the baby gags or coughs fluid, angle the baby downward to assist the fluid out of its lungs.

 STOP immediately and try again later. If at any time, you are not having luck with this, stop and wait until help arrives.

For an older baby (eyes open and tail beginning to fluff, you can use a pet carrier (you may have to put a screen over the front so they don’t get their heads caught in the bars, or strong ventilated box depending on size of squirrel) with a heating pad set on low under half of the container. Again, string free rags are good to put into the container as well.

Do not handle the squirrel with bare hands. Since the squirrel is unfamiliar with you, you can get a scratch or nip from a 6-week-old juvenile if they are scared or very hungry. Squirrels do not have good close vision, and you can get nipped or scratched by accident. If you must pick up the squirrel, use a pair of garden gloves or a heavy cloth.

7-8 Week Old Juvenile

The photo below shows you a squirrel at approximately 7.5-8 weeks old.

Note the well fluffed tail, and well proportioned head to body size. They can sit and hold food in their paws. They are fast, agile climbers, and can deliver a hard bite.

Around 8-9 weeks old, they are able to crack open nuts.

Do not handle the squirrel with bare hands.

If you must pick up the squirrel, use a pair of garden gloves and a towel. Since the squirrel is unfamiliar with you, you can get a scratch or nip from a juvenile this size if they are scared or very hungry. Squirrels do not have good close vision, and you can get nipped or scratched by accident.

For an orphaned squirrel this age, you can put a jar lid of water and some soft foods such as nut meats, sunflower seeds, apple bits, (no grapes as they can choke on them).

You can see how frisky they can be at this age. It was feeding time for this healthy group of juvenile squirrels as you can see here:

JUVENILE 9 WEEKS OLD

This is a photo of a squirrel approximately 9 weeks old. They can eat on their own and are beginning to find their own food.

JUVENILES OVER 9 WEEKS OLD

Orphaned squirrels this age can eat on their own, and do not require your help other than putting food and water out for them.

Call a local rehabber if you think there is a problem. Squirrels at this age have very sharp teeth and can crack nuts.

 

GENERAL NOTE ON SQUIRREL FEEDING

Avoid feeding too many peanuts and sunflower seeds, as these are not healthy in spite of the fact they are often marketed for squirrels. In particular, raw peanuts are the worst to offer. A few roasted, unsalted peanuts are OK now and then, but should not be a staple of their diet.

Sunflower seeds are deficient in mineral balance that squirrels need to be healthy, and can cause metabolic bone disease over time. Avoid offering only sunflower seeds in your outdoor squirrel feeders.

CLICK HERE to find out more about feeding your backyard squirrels.

At this point, you have seen that wildlife care is a very time consuming and demanding job (sometimes around the clock care is required). It also requires proper training, medical skills, knowledge of nutritional and habitat requirements of the animal, and equipment. Some people who enjoy wildlife try to raise them without the proper training, and this is unfair to the animal in spite of any good intentions. Sometimes nutritional deficiencies don't show up until long after release, such as metabolic bone disease.

If you would like to work with wildlife, contact your local licensed rehabber or rehab facility and see if they need volunteers.

Thanks so much for caring about the wildlife, and taking the time to rescue them and get them to qualified personnel for help! I always like to know how things turn out, and if you found this website helpful. So, please let me know what happens.

Susan S. Saliga WI Licensed Rehabber Specializing in young squirrels and cottontails NWRA, WWRA Wisconsin Squirrel Connection squirlwhirl@wi.rr.com

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