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I Found A Squirrel?

Squirrels are extremely intelligent animals known to display bogus food burying rituals to onlookers such as birds or other squirrels to trick them into thinking that’s where their food is buried.  They communicate with thru vocalizations, scent marking and signalling with their tail.


Baby squirrels are born completely hairless and with eyes and ears sealed shut.  Their fur begins to come in slowly around two weeks but does not thicken until three to four weeks.


At this time their eyes will begin to show signs of opening and by six to seven weeks should be fully open, tails will become thicker and the babies will be walking and beginning to play.


Their nests are usually den cavities or leaf nests.   They do not come out of the nest (unless mom is moving them) until they are fully furred and ready to survive.  


If you find a baby squirrel outside the nest first check to see if it is warm.  If so, chances are good that the mother is close by. Step back and observe.  Do you see any adult squirrels or other babies in the nearby vicinity?  Have you observed them in this area in the past?  Is there a known nest nearby?  


If you have determined the mother is not around, place the baby in a small box with a soft cloth in the bottom.  Baby squirrels cannot thermoregulate (maintain their core body temperature) so it will need to be warmed up gently but immediately.  Use a heat source such as a heating pad turned on “low” UNDER THEIR BOX, a hot water bottle or sock filled with rice and microwaved for one to two minutes.  Test the heat source on your forearm to be sure it’s not too hot.  If using a hot water bottle, remove it before it gets cold or it will wick all the heat from the baby.  Be sure to only fill half the box with the heat so the baby can move away from it if it becomes too warm.  Place the box in a warm, quiet, SAFE room and call a wildlife rehabber.  (Please see additional directions on warming the animal here.)


Most babies that are chilled are usually dehydrated as well. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED ANYTHING TO A COLD BABY.    Signs of dehydration are:  skin that does not bounce back when gently pulled between your thumb and index finger.   If this “tent” of skin remains for more than a second, it’s dehydrated.    The skin may also appear wrinkly and if eyes are open they can appear sunken and dull.


While the baby is warming up, go to a supermarket or drugstore and purchase a rehydrating baby fluid such as pedialyte.  In a pinch a homemade hydrator can be made by mixing one tsp salt, three tsp sugar into one quart of warm water.   Using an oral syringe without needle (can be purchased at drug or pet store) , or a clean eye dropper or baby syringe  just put one drop at a time on their lips and let them suck that in.   If they're old enough to have eyes open you can let them take the syringe in their mouth and gently give a few drops.   If the liquid comes back out of their mouth &/or out the nostrils you are feeding too fast.  Hold the baby upside down and dab the fluid from its mouth and nose & wait a few minutes before resuming. Babies can very easily aspirate if fed too fast and the fluid goes into the lungs instead of the stomach.   Be sure to give the fluids warm but not hot.  Unused portions should be stored in the refrigerator and are generally not good after 48 hours.


Getting the baby to a rehabber during this time is critical and gives the squirrel the best chance for survival.


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