There are situations wherein it may be necessary to handle a baby squirrel. Perhaps the mother was injured or killed, leaving the baby behind. In this situation, handling the baby squirrel is the only way to save her life. The experts at Columbus Squirrel Rescue recommend contacting a licensed squirrel rehabilitator before handling a baby squirrel. Baby squirrels should only be handled when a rehabilitator isn’t available and the baby squirrel isn’t suffering any terminal injuries.
Get the Baby Squirrel Warm
In general, a healthy and warm baby squirrel will be responsive to your touch. Despite being hairless, she’ll have a bright pink coloring, with pink lips and gums. If she’s suffering from cold or dehydration, she may be unresponsive and gray in color. It’s important to get the baby warm, before doing anything else. Do not attempt to feed her in this state. Turn a heating pad to its lowest setting and place a folded towel overtop it. Place a nest box, such as a cardboard box, overtop the heating pad and towel. Choose a box with very tall sides because squirrel babies will climb and climbing out could result in death. It also helps if you have a lid. Gently lift the squirrel onto the towel, wrapping her in it. In case she gets too hot, only place the nest box over half of the pad, leaving some cooler space in the box for her to crawl to.
Hydrate the Baby Squirrel
Do not be tempted to immediately administer formula to the baby squirrel. She needs to rehydrate to replenish what her body has lost during her traumatic experience. Even if she’s been separated from her mother for 24 hours, she needs hydration more than she needs milk or other foods. Keep her on a regiment of Pedialyte until she has regained her fluids. Feed her by gently lifting her chin to a 1cc syringe filled with the Pedialyte.
Feed the Baby Squirrel
If possible, contact a rehabilitator before attempting to feed and care for a baby squirrel. Rehabilitators know how to care for a squirrel and release it back into the wild. If a rehabilitator isn’t available, it will be necessary to feed the baby squirrel. Feed her at two hour intervals, day and night. You’ll be handling her a lot during this time, gently holding her in one hand and using your other hand to place a syringe in her mouth.
Encourage the Squirrel to Defecate
In the wild, a mother squirrel encourages her babies to urinate and defecate by licking their genitals. In captivity, baby squirrels need you to provide the same encouragement. Without this encouragement, baby squirrels can suffer all sorts of ailments, such as uremic poisoning and urine burns. Using a cotton ball, gently press on her genitals after feeding. This will stimulate her to defecate. Her stool should be a hard dark brown at first, but graduate to firm mustard brown after 24 hours of feeding formula. Take her to a veterinarian if she isn’t defecating after every meal, or if you notice bloating or diarrhea.