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 Home > Squirrels  > Orphan Care

Intro to Squirrels 102: "Proper Care of an Orphaned Squirrel"

image 1

Baby at 1 week

You can play an important role in an orphaned squirrel's survival if you follow the instructions below.  A squirrel can become orphaned by falling out of a tree or nest or if its mother is attacked and injured.  For more detailed instructions on caring for an orphaned squirrel, send a blank email to help@squirrel-rehab.org. Detailed instructions can also be found at squirrel-rehab.org, squirrelworld.com or the Columbus (GA) Squirrel Rescue. Orphaned squirrels are very fragile and dependent - they need more care than kittens or puppies and should be treated as such.

Get the baby squirrel back to its mother
The best chances for a baby squirrel to survive are if you can get the squirrel back to its mother.  If the mother is around and the baby is still warm (meaning warmer than your hand), there's a chance the mother will retrieve the baby.  Keep an eye on the area.  If the mother does not come back, you should assume the baby is orphaned.

image 1

Baby at 1 month

Get the baby warm
The baby squirrel will not survive if it remains cold for an extended period of time. By this this time, it is already in shock. You should get the squirrel warm even before considering giving it any water. Put the baby in a box or plastic container (such as Tupperware) with a clean cloth at the bottom. Do not use a towel because the baby can get their toenails caught causing them to break a toenail or bone try to get loose. Then cover the baby with a light cloth. Finally, put a heating pad underneath the box or container. If you do not have a heating pad, you can fashion a heating device by filling up several Ziplock bags with hot water and then putting them underneath the box or container. For more detailed instructions on how to keep the baby warm, send a blank email to help@squirrel-rehab.org or visit the Columbus (GA) Squirrel Rescue instructions.

The normal temperature for a baby squirrel is 99 degrees Fahrenheit.  At this temperature the baby will feel slightly warmer than your hand.  If the mother is still around, you can attempt to returned the warmed baby to the mother for retrieval.

Rehydrate the baby
Now that the baby is warm, you can try to get water and electrolytes back into its system. Run out the store and buy a 1cc or 3cc syringe and a bottle of Pedialyte. Do not serve the baby anything else (especially milk). Warm the Pedialyte slightly. Using the syringe with the needle removed, feed the Pedialyte to the baby. Refrigerate the Pedialyte after opening.

Locate a rehabilitator
If you've succeeded in warming and rehydrating the orphaned squirrel, you've likely saved it's life. To further increase its chances of survival, you should now attempt to find an experienced rehabilitator who will raise the squirrel until it can be released in the wild.

To locate a rehabilitator, visit one of the following links:
    Squirrel rehabilitators from squirrel-rehab.org
    General wildlife rehabilitators from WildlifeRehab

Baby squirrels are very fragile and vulnerable to all kinds of infections. Something as common as a cat's breath contains enough bacteria to infect and kill a baby squirrel. An experienced rehabilitator will have all the necessary antibiotics to care for the baby.

Raising a baby squirrel on your own
We do not recommend raising a baby squirrel on your own. However, we realize there are times when it is not feasible to locate a rehabilitator. If you choose to raise the baby squirrel on your own, we list the following sites which will serve as good resources. You will only want to raise the baby long enough until it is ready to be released into the wild. Here are the sources:
    Columbus (GA) Squirrel Rescue

(Infant squirrel pictures are courtesy of squirrelworld.com)

 Related Topics

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Intro to Squirrels 101 - "A Basic Introduction"

Intro to Squirrels 103 - "Little Known Facts About Squirrels"

Squirrels 201 - "Pics & Info for the New Schoolyear"

Squirrels 202 - "Squirrels in My Attic"


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