If you find any orphaned baby squirrels and like to rear them. But you are not sure about the food habits and environment the babies need. This article helps you to know what do baby squirrels eat and the desired environment for them to grow up. Remember squirrels are not good pets. However, you can take care and grow them up. The right food and right shelter conditions are the ones required. Before understanding the food habits, let us know how to rescue the baby squirrel.
Table of Contents
1. Reunite with the Mother
Always try to reunite the baby with the mother. If it is dark, the baby is sick, hurt or cold and the left for 2 to 3 hours. Probably, the baby is orphaned. On the other hand, if the baby squirrels are warm and healthy there are good chances of the mother coming back within 2 to 3 hours to retrieve the babies.
Place the babies in the square box. You can make use of a large Tupperware container without a lid or a cat carrier or any other box. Keep this box near tree or area they come from. Make sure that the babies cannot get out of the box and the mother can get in. Place soft fabric at the bottom but do not use towels. Towels may get the claws of the babies stuck. Wear hand gloves while handling the babies. Gently take the baby and check for injuries, bumps, bleeding, wounds or bugs. If you find them bleeding or any serious injury consult the vet immediately.
3.Warm The Baby
If the baby does not open eyes still, they need a heat source to warm them up. Baby Squirrels will get chilled quickly even on hot summer days. You can heat the baby as below:
- Place a soda bottle containing hot water, covered with a sock near the babies. Make sure the temperature is not too hot. Place a tee-shirt around it to make sure that the bottle does not roll on to the babies.
- You can also heat the babies by placing the box on the heating pad or electric blanket. Make sure you are placing below one-half of the box. If the box gets heated, then the baby can crawl off the heat pad.
The incubation temperature of the baby squirrels should be about 99 °F (37 °C). They are not capable to make their own heat and need an external source. Make sure the box and the babies are not too hot. Some of the heating pads turn off after few hours, check and keep it working. Consider placing a towel on top of the container (if it is not summer) to make sure heat does not escape.
4. Look for Rehabilitation Centre
You can look for the rehabilitation center, that takes care of the baby and you can leave them there. Further, they rear the baby. You can search for the rehabilitation center online.
5. Hydrating the Baby
Baby should feel warm to touch. Then, go on further to hydrate the baby. Most of the babies will be in need of water. You can know this by gently pinching the skin of the squirrel if the tent of the skin stays for few seconds before coming back to normal, then the baby needs hydration. In general, any orphan baby is dehydrated to some degree.
1. Pedialyte is the best hydrating solution. This is easily available in the drug stores. In the case, if it is not available then go for Gatorade. Before feeding the baby with anything else rehydrate it using Pedialyte. The best hydrating solution is unflavored Pedialyte. Don’t hurry to feed other foods as it is difficult for the baby to digest. There are chances of becoming sick or death also.
2. Alternatively, if you are not close to the drug store, you can try this homemade rehydrating solution. Add one teaspoon of salt, three teaspoons of sugar into one-quarter of warm water.
Feed this solution to the babies using a small syringe without needles. Preferably 1 cc to 3 cc and not larger. An oral syringe is available in a pharmacy in the pediatric section. Your pharmacist helps you in getting the right one. If the syringe is large, then there are higher chances of the baby getting aspirated. The solution bubble out of the nose if the baby gets aspirated. Using an eyedropper or baby bottle to feed will allow the baby to get the fluid aspirated quickly.
If there is no choice left then go for a dropper. Drop the fluid onto the tongue or lips of the squirrel, do not allow the baby to suck the tip of the dropper. Allow the baby to lap the liquid instead of sucking. It is quite natural for them to have a sucking reflex, be careful while using the dropper.
If the baby is weak, it may be fed gradually by force. Hold the baby in the upright position while rehydrating and feeding and never on its back. Hydrate the baby up to 12 hours. You may feed the baby with the solution once in every 2 hours. If you find, there are no chances you may take the baby to the rehabilitator once the baby is warm and re-hydrated. Make sure when you feed the baby it is not overfed. Check the size and shape of the belly. The belly should be round and not tight if he had fed enough. This is one of the primary causes of diarrhea in wild babies. Wipe the face and belly with warm damp cloth and keep the baby awake. Now let us see the diet of the baby.
What Do Baby Squirrels Eat?
Soon after hydrating the baby. Feed the baby with the Esbilac or Milk Matrix 33/40 by PetAg, this is the best formula. Make sure (Vanilla) can be used for few days if diarrhea occurs. Esbilac is available in most of the pet shops. It is better to purchase the formula from the nearby outlet. You cannot keep the baby waiting for the delivery from a distant place.
Esbilac is available in both liquid and powder forms. If you have the powder form, then take one part powder and three parts of water and stir it well. You can also use the strainer for more thin liquid. Gradually, increase the concentration of the liquid by reducing water. If you are using liquid Esbilac, you should add water to the first feed and reduce water in subsequent feeding. Ensure the formula is lukewarm before feeding and is not hot. Feed the formula in accordance with the age of the animal and not the size.
Note: Please don’t feed the babies with soy milk, cow’s milk or goat milk and homemade formulas. These milks are quick killers. Homemade formulas are not reliable. These are inappropriate and can be deadly to them.
Do not overfeed the animal. Ensure animal is getting 5% formula of his body weight. However, every animal is different. Above mentioned guideline is, in general. It is important for the baby to urinate and have the bowel movement. Young squirrels, those are yet to open their eyes or just have opened need stimulation for urination and bowel movement. Stimulate the baby by rubbing his abdomen and genital area with a warm damp cloth. After the stimulation, the baby should have the bowel movement and urinate. If the baby is starving and not fed for a long time, then it may not urinate immediately. If he is still facing difficulty, in getting bowel movement, he may be suffering from bloat, constipation or gas.
When the squirrel is six weeks old, squirrels start nibbling on solid food. These include grapes, apples, broccoli, sweet potato and hard-shelled nuts out of the shell. Feeding along with the diet is required until 9 to 10 weeks of age. Once it starts to have a good deal of solid food, cut on feeding every few days. Make sure he is gaining weight in spite of reduced number of feedings.
Weekly feeding schedule of the squirrel, as it grows, is as below:
First Two Weeks: Feed the formula every two hours once. For the first one week approximately 5 cc per feeding and in the second week 75 to 1 cc per feeding
Between Two to Three Weeks: Increase the gap between each feeding and make it 3 hours. Feed the number of cc’s in weeks of age. For instance 2 cc for 2 weeks age and 3 cc for 3 weeks.
Between Three To Four Weeks: It is 3 or 4 cc per feeding depending on the age.
Between Four to Seven Weeks: Formula should be fed for every 4 hours once. During 6 to 7 weeks offer Zupreem primate chow, small slices of avocado, fruit in small amounts.
Note: Between 5 to 6 weeks the intake capacity of the squirrel increases, you can give up to 6 to 8 CCs per feeding.
Between Seven To Nine Weeks: Feed formula thrice a day with one of the solid food listed above. Green peas, broccoli or any other veggies would do. Do not feed sweet potatoes and corn.
Between Nine To Ten Weeks: Reduce the feeding to two times. Add a small piece of fresh corn and a little sweet potato to the diet apart from other veggies.
Between Ten To Twelve Weeks: At this stage, he will reject the formula. Add a couple of pecans, almonds and a small handful of large stripped sunflower seeds.a
What Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels belong to the rodent family. Most of them are vegetarians. However, there are few exceptions like flying squirrels. Flying Squirrels feed on insects, small birds, and eggs.
Squirrels mostly feed on leaves, twigs, fruits, buds, lichens, seeds, nuts, roots, mushrooms, avocados, oranges, roots, black walnuts, bark, apricots, apples, and corn. Their favorite among these is corn on the cob, dried and hung up for them. Squirrels consume pretty much whatever they find and they are not picky eaters. They go on feeding till they find it tasty.
Squirrels are been hated by many gardeners for centuries. Read further to explore the reason. Gardener hates these cute rodents because these rodents love to dig and hide their extra food all over the place. Digging is not only before winter, but it is done all round the year. Squirrels not only dig the place to keep the food, but also dig the fresh bulbs that gardeners plant during the spring. Flower Bulb is one of the favorite things on the menu of the squirrels. As squirrels start digging, to hide their nuts they cannot resist on flower bulbs and then swap it out. The whole time spent by gardeners on planting the flower bulbs will go in vein.
What Do Ground Squirrels Eat?
Ground Squirrels are the ones found in our gardens, they have same food habits as other squirrels. Ground Squirrels are either herbivores or omnivores. Herbivores ground squirrels feed on herbs, seeds, grasses, grains, and nuts. Ground Squirrels in the desert environment may also feed on prickly pear fruit, barrel cacti and mesquite beans. California Ground Squirrels are Herbivores Ground Squirrels.
Thirteen-lined ground squirrel is one of the omnivorous ground squirrels. They feed on the plants same as the herbivores ground squirrels and along with that it feeds on small insects, earthworms, insect eggs and small mice. Omnivorous ground squirrels also feed on other ground squirrels.
- Squirrels belong to the order Rodentia. It has about 1650 species and is the largest group of living mammals. It forms 40% of the present day mammal species.
- 365 species of squirrels is spread over seven families. They include many squirrel-like mammals such as prairie dog, gopher and ground hog.
- Squirrels are usually born during early spring. Average litter consists of four. The second one occur in mild summer, depending on climate, location and food supply.
- Female squirrels always chose strongest male during mating season. It is unlikely to breed with the same again. Nature’s way of reducing inbreeding and save the species.
- Mating season begins in late winter. Squirrels are more active during this time. Male chases the female and other suitors. This ritual of chasing takes place on top of the trees at high speed.
- Gestation period is 33 days in smaller species to pine squirrels. It may be up to 60 days for larger species such as fox and gray squirrels.
- Baby squirrel is one inch long and weighs one ounce at birth. They are virtually blind for first six to eight weeks and do not have hair and teeth.