What should I do if I find an orphaned baby squirrel wandering about?

Before you do anything in terms of helping a young squirrel it is important to be sure of its status. For you to find a squirrel one of the following must have happened.

• The mother is gone
• The nest was affected by natural factors and the baby was misplaced
• The mother has separated the young from its litter

The first case means the young squirrel is orphaned and in need of help. In the other two scenarios the young may be reunited with their mother.

Trying to unite young squirrel with mother
The first step you should take to help the young squirrel is to leave it for a while and perform frequent checks for a week to know if its mother is still around. The mother will usually need to take care of her babies until they are old enough to take care of themselves. It is advisable to give them a grace period for a few weeks before they vacate elsewhere.

If the mother is gone
If the wild baby has been left by the mother and is all alone its best chance of survival is a rescuer who will feed and warm it. If such a case is found you may need to call a wildlife rehabilitator who will know how to raise and take care of the baby. If you are unable to find a rehabilitator you will have to take care of the wild baby. It is important to consider the fact that you are only raising the wild baby so that you can free it when it has grown up.

Taking care of orphaned squirrel
Orphans that have been without their mother must be given warmed rehydration solution before any other meal is offered. A rehydration formula for humans like pedialyte can be warmed and offered to the baby at frequent intervals - say, every 2 hours. When the baby has graduated to food get a 1 cc or 3 cc o-ring syringe to feed it. Any milk replacement formula can be diluted in water and fed using the syringe. How much to feed will depend on the baby squirrel's weight.

Housing baby squirrels
A cozy nest should have the following properties:

• Beddings made up of several layers of soft cloth
• Warmth
• Free air circulation

Once the squirrels are about 8 weeks of age they need to spend the next 4 weeks in a pre-release cage before they are released at about 12 to 13 weeks.

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