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So you're walking through the park and spot a tiny, fuzzy creature on the ground that turns out to be a baby squirrel. Uh oh. What do you do now? Don't worry; we've got you covered. Here's what you need to know to rescue this little cutie and return it to safety.
If you find a baby squirrel on the ground, the best scenario is to reunite it with its mother. Mother squirrels typically only leave their babies unattended for a few hours, so she should still be nearby.
Scan the surrounding area to try and locate the nest the baby fell from. Squirrel nests are usually high up in trees, in a hollow of the trunk, or in a nest of leaves. If you find it, gently place the baby back where it belongs. The ideal solution, if it's possible, is to reunite the baby with its nest or mother safely. Be careful when handling the baby, as the mother may act aggressively to protect her young.
If you can't find the nest or the mother is not retrieving the baby, keep the little squirrel warm and fed. Squirrels can't regulate their body temperature well for the first few weeks. Wrap the baby in a soft cloth and place it in a box with holes in the lid. Place the container on a heating pad set to low or medium.
With quick action and proper care, orphaned baby squirrels can be returned to their natural habitat. But the best-case scenario is always reuniting babies with their mothers, so make that your top priority if the situation allows.
If you find a baby squirrel on the ground, the best thing you can do is take it to a wildlife rehabilitator. These are professionals trained to care for injured and orphaned wildlife. They have the proper facilities, permits, and experience to raise baby squirrels and prepare them for release back to the wild.
Do not attempt to keep a baby squirrel as a pet, as this is illegal in many places, and the squirrel will not develop the necessary survival skills. The kindest option is to get the little one to the professionals immediately.
Do an online search for "wildlife rehabilitators" or "wildlife rescue" in your area. You can also check with your local animal shelters, humane societies, veterinarians, and wildlife agencies for referrals. When you call, describe the baby squirrel's age, size, any injuries, and the situation in which you found it. They will advise you on capturing and transporting the little critter to them.
Handle the baby squirrel as little as possible, wearing gloves, as human scent can disturb the mother.
Keep the baby warm, hydrated, and fed with a unique formula and syringes until you can get it to the rehabilitator.
Have a sturdy box, carrier, or cage ready to transport the squirrel. Line it with a soft cloth, t-shirt, towel, or fleece to keep the baby comfortable and secure during the drive. Put on gloves before handling and placing the squirrel in the carrier.
Provide details about where and when you found the squirrel to help determine if the mother is still around or may return for it. The rehabilitator can then make the best decision on how to care for the little squirrel.
Once you hand off the baby squirrel to the rehabilitator, they will examine it for any injuries, properly feed and hydrate it, and raise it in a nurturing environment so it can be released back to live freely. Rehabilitators aim to reintroduce rescued wildlife to natural habitats so they can survive and thrive sustainably. As previously mentioned, avoid keeping a baby squirrel as a pet—it's in the squirrel's best interest to live wild and free.
You did a good thing by rescuing the baby squirrel and getting it the professional care it needs. Wildlife rehabilitators are passionate about their work in helping native animals in need. With your compassion and assistance, this little squirrel can grow up happy and healthy in the wild.
Yes, you can! Follow the tips we outlined above to help the baby squirrel you found to survive.
It's unlikely that squirrels have rabies, but any wild animal can carry diseases, so exercise caution. If a squirrel does bite you, get medical attention immediately. You'll need rabies treatment since any mammal can transmit the disease. Don't take chances.
It's best not to touch or handle a baby squirrel unless necessary for feeding or care.