If you find any orphaned baby squirrels and would like to rear them,but you are not sure about their food habits and environmental needs, then we can help. This article helps you to know what baby squirrels eat and the desired environment for them to grow up in. Remember that squirrels are not usually good pets. However, you can take care of them and help them grow up. The right food and right shelter conditions are the things required. Before understanding their food habits, let us learn how to rescue the baby squirrel.
1. Reunite with the Mother
Always try to reunite the baby with the mother, if at all possible. If it is dark, the baby is sick, hurt or cold, and has been left alone for 2 to 3 hours, the baby has most likely been 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 a square box. You can make use of a large Tupperware container without a lid, a cat carrier, or any other box. Keep this box near the tree or area where they came from. Make sure that the babies cannot get out of the box, but that the mother can get in. Place soft fabric at the bottom but do not use towels. Towels may cause the claws of the babies to get 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 having any serious injury, consult the vet immediately.
3.Warm The Baby
If the baby does not open its eyes yet, 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 it below only one-half of the box. If the box gets too 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 of making 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 the heat does not escape.
4. Look for Rehabilitation Centre
You can look for a rehabilitation center that takes care of the baby and you can leave them there. Further, they can rear the baby. You can search for a rehabilitation center online.
5. Hydrating the Baby
The 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 and if the tent of the skin stays for few seconds before coming back to normal, then the baby needs hydration. In general, any orphaned baby is going to be dehydrated to some degree.
Pedialyte is the best hydrating solution. This is easily available in the drug stores. In the case 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 the baby becoming sick or even causing its death.Advertisement
Alternatively, if you are not close to the drug store, you can try this homemade rehydration solution. Add one teaspoon of salt, and three teaspoons of sugar into one quart of warm water.
Feed this solution to the babies using a small syringe without needles. Preferably 1 cc to 3 cc and not more. An oral syringe is available in a pharmacy in the pediatric section. Your pharmacist can help you in getting the right one. If the syringe is large, then there are higher chances of the baby getting aspirated. If the solution bubbles out of the nose, it’s likely that the baby is getting 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, so 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 every 2 hours. If you find there are no chances of the mother coming back, you may take the baby to the rehabilitator once the baby is warm and re-hydrated. Make sure when you feed the baby that 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 check out 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, as this is the best formula. Esbilac is available in most of the pet shops. It is better to purchase the formula from a nearby outlet, as 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 the 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 bowel movements. 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 has 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 down on feedings to every few days. Make sure he is gaining weight in spite of the reduced number of feedings.
Weekly feeding schedule of the squirrel, as it grows, is as follows: First Two Weeks: Feed the formula once every two hours. For the first week approximately 0.5 cc per feeding and in the second week 0.75 to 1 cc per feeding. Between Two to Three Weeks: Increase the gap between each feeding to 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, etc. Between Three to Four Weeks: It is 3 or 4 cc per feeding. Between Four to Seven Weeks: Formula should be fed once every 4 hours. 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 foods listed above. Green peas, broccoli or most any other veggies will do. Do not feed sweet potatoes or corn yet. Between Nine to Ten Weeks: Reduce the feeding to two times a day. 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.
What Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels belong to the rodent family and 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 that has been 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 have been hated by many gardeners for centuries. Read further to explore the reason. Gardener hate these cute rodents because these rodents love to dig and hide their extra food all over the place. Digging is not only done before winter, but it is done all round the year. Squirrels not only dig the places to keep the food, but also dig up the fresh bulbs that gardeners plant during the spring. Flower bulbs are one of the favorite things on the menu of the squirrels. As squirrels start digging to hide their nuts they cannot resist the flower bulbs and then swap it out. The whole time spent by gardeners on planting the flower bulbs will go in vain.
What Do Ground Squirrels Eat?
Ground Squirrels are the ones found in our gardens, and 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 the same as the herbivores ground squirrels and along with that it feeds on small insects, earthworms, insect eggs and small mice. Omnivorous ground squirrels will also even feed on other ground squirrels!
Squirrels belong to the order Rodentia. It has about 1,650 species and is the largest group of living mammals. It forms 40% of the present day mammal species.
The 365 species of squirrels are spread over seven families. They include many squirrel-like mammals such as prairie dog, gopher and groundhog.
Squirrels are usually born during early spring. Average litter consists of four pups. The second one can occur in mild summer, depending on climate, location and food supply.
Female squirrels always chose the strongest male during mating season. It is unlikely to breed with the same one again. It’s nature’s way of reducing inbreeding and saves the species.
Mating season begins in late winter. Squirrels are more active during this time. Males chases the females 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 squirrels are one inch long and weigh one ounce at birth. They are virtually blind for the first six to eight weeks and do not have hair and teeth.