Have you found a baby squirrel and the mother is nowhere to be seen? You just don’t know what to do with this orphan little squirrel. Feeding and taking care of them can be quite a challenge. The best thing to do is to return the little squirrel to its mother. However, if that is no possible you will just need to take care of the little one until adulthood. Make sure to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as caring about baby squirrels is illegal in many states.
How to Feed Baby Squirrels
As mentioned, feeding baby squirrels can be quite a challenge if you have no information about it in the first place. Here are some tips on how to properly care for a baby squirrel until it is strong and big enough to return back to the wild.
1. Keep the Squirrel Warm
The first thing you need to do after finding a baby squirrel is to keep the little squirrel warm. The warming process should be gradual, always paying attention to not over-warm the squirrel. 99 degrees Fahrenheit is a normal temperature for little squirrels.
You can just place the little squirrel in a box. Place a clean cloth on the box first. Also, cover your squirrel well. It is important to know that towels are a no-go for squirrels. You should never use a towel, as squirrels tend to get their toenails in the loops of the towel. A baby diaper or a baby receiving blanket is preferred.
You can also use a heating pad to warm up your little squirrel. You can put the heating pad under the box (outside the box), wrapped twice with a towel. Once the baby squirrel is warm enough you can remove the heating pad.
2. Rehydrate Your Squirrel
Your baby squirrel might be thirsty, so before feeding baby squirrels after you have warmed them first, you will need to properly rehydrate them. Pedialyte is a great option for rehydration. You should give it to your baby squirrel every 15 minutes for about 2 hours. Make sure not to warm the Pedialyte more than it should as you don’t want to burn their little mouth. You can store the unused Pedialyte in the refrigerator for about 72 hours, after which you should throw it away.
If you don’t have a Pedialyte, a homemade rehydration solution can do the work. Mix salt, regular table sugar, and warm water, and feed your baby squirrel after you have made sure that all the ingredients are mixed well. Store this rehydration solution in a refrigerator.
You should test the rehydration of your baby squirrel by checking the skin between the shoulder blades. Your baby squirrel will require more rehydrating solution if the skin remains tented or goes down very slowly. On the other side, if the squirrel skin falls back down quickly, the squirrel is well hydrated and you can start formula feeding.
3. What Baby Squirrels Drink?
Once you have rehydrated your baby squirrel well, you can start giving formula milk. Feeding baby squirrels with improper formula milk can lead to the development of the metabolic bone disease as well as other health problems.
You can use various milk replacers such as Esbilac Puppy milk replacer. Use only distilled water when mixing the formula milk. Mix one part of milk powder with 2 parts of distilled water. Make sure to warm the formula milk before giving it to the little squirrel. Also introduce the formula to the baby squirrel gradually.
4. Choose the Feeding Tool
It will take your baby squirrels a while before he/she gets used into feeding. The best feeding tool for baby squirrel is a 1cc syringe.
When feeding the baby squirrel, you will need to be very careful. Baby squirrels can suck harder than they should, meaning that more milk than normal will get down, even reaching into the lungs and eventually causing pneumonia.
Contact a veterinarian immediately if you notice any problems with your baby squirrel, especially any difficulties breathing. If pneumonia develops, your baby squirrel will need antibiotics.
5. Feed the Little One
How much to feed your baby squirrel? You can easily follow the 5% rule. This means that you need to weigh your baby squirrel and multiply that number by 5%. Feeding baby squirrels based on their weight is an accurate way as they can easily get overfed which leads to diarrhea. You need to weigh your baby squirrel daily and notice any changes in the weight. As long as your baby squirrel is not losing weight, it means that you are doing things right.
The feeding schedule is also important when taking care of a baby squirrel.
- A one week old squirrel, you will need to feed every 2 hours, even at night.
- A two weeks old squirrel, you will need to feed every 3 hours, even at night.
- A three weeks old squirrel, you will need to feed every 3 to 4 hours, even at night.
- A four weeks old squirrel, you will need to feed every 4 hours, even at night.
- A five or six weeks old baby squirrel, you will need to feed every 4 hours, but it is not necessary during the night.
6. Eliminate Waste of Baby Squirrels
Baby squirrels need help eliminating waste, especially when they keep their eyes closed. Once the baby squirrels open the eyes, there is no need for stimulation anymore as they are able to go on their own. However, make sure to check if everything is OK.
Normal urine has a yellow color, while if the squirrel is dehydrated the urine will be thicker and with a honey color. If the urine is darker than normal, this means that the baby squirrel has held the urine longer than normal, meaning that you should stimulate the little squirrel more often. The normal bowel movement is a soft, deep yellow colored waste. Stimulate the genital area and the anal area of the baby squirrel regularly for about 60 seconds.