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Am I really orphaned? Squirrel

Baby squirrels may fall from their nest during storms, tree work, or when another squirrel tries to take over the nest.  If the squirrel is not injured, it may be reunited with its mother, which is the best outcome for the both the baby and mother squirrel.

However, if the baby has been found by a cat, dog, or predator, it will likely have some kind of injury and will have been exposed to harmful bacteria requiring treatment.  Likewise, if the baby has been without its mother for too long, it needs our help.  Signs of this are fleas, fly eggs or maggots, lethargy, following humans, and dehydration.  You can check for dehydration by pinching the skin on the back, pulling it up, and timing how long it takes the skin to return to normal position.  If it’s over 2 seconds, the squirrel is dehydrated. If the squirrel shows any of these signs, contact a rehabber.

The procedure for reuniting baby squirrels is to first make sure the squirrel is warm to the touch. The mother will not retrieve a cold baby.  Gently pick up the squirrel using a small towel.  The squirrel should feel as warm as your face.  You may need to bring the baby inside and place in a small container with a heat source.  Examples of this are a heating pad set on low, a sock filled with half a cup of rice or dried beans and microwaved for 20-30 seconds, chemical hand warmers such as Hot Hands, or a bottle filled with warm water and placed in a sock.  Be sure the temperature is pleasantly warm, not hot. 

Once the baby is warm, and it is daylight, place it in a shallow box or basket with a soft cloth and the heat source.  If possible, attach the container to the tree where the nest was, or off the ground as close as possible to where the baby was found, but not in direct sun.  Keep pets away.  Leave the area and watch from inside or a distance. 

If the squirrel has fur, check every 2 hours for warmth and give the mother until dark to retrieve it.  If the baby does not yet have fur, check hourly for warmth.  If the mother does not retrieve it after 4 hours, contact a rehabber.  In all cases, bring the baby in at dark.  Keep it warm but DO NOT attempt to feed it anything.  Squirrels can go without food or water for a day but must be kept warm.  Trying to feed it or give any kind of liquid will keep the mother from retrieving it and also carries a great risk of getting the food or liquid into the lungs.  Feeding the wrong thing or the wrong amount can cause serious bloat or diarrhea.  All of this will cause the squirrel much more discomfort than missing a meal.

What do I do next?

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