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What can I feed the baby squirrels I find in my yard? This is the obvious question anyone would ask when they find a helpless baby squirrel in their backyard and suddenly feel the urge to want to take care of it and feed it.
Squirrels will eat just about any vegetables they find but if they are babies then they are more safe options to consider for them. Squirrels really love food whether small or big and unlike baby rabbits that are fragile and need to be fed carefully, squirrels are more of wild animals and they are not picky eaters either.
However, there are basic steps required to feed them if they are less than 6 weeks old.
If you find a baby squirrel in your yard, for some reason you might feel obligated to feed them. While feeding a mama squirrel is easy, feeding the babies require more care. They need the right essential nutrients to help them grow faster and healthier.
Squirrels can bond easily and depend on you if you feed them but it might be a good idea to try to reunite them with their mother. If the mother squirrel is still in the area then she is likely to come back for them and if she doesn’t then you are going to need to feed them.
Baby squirrels are excitable creatures hence you need to handle them with care. If reuniting baby squirrels with their mama doesn’t work, this article contains what and how to feed them.
Squirrels‘ common problem is dehydration so you need to give them some water first.
Most baby squirrels need to feel comfortable with water first before eating so first you need to get Pedialyte or mix half spoon of sugar and salt into cups of water to feed them.
If the squirrel is too weak then you really need to feed it water first and safety and water are part of their first survival needs. If your baby squirrel doesn’t want to drink, below is what to do.
- Place them upright in a sitting or put it in a position that seems as if it’s standing on its hind legs as you don’t want to give it liquid while it’s lying back
- Warm the Pedialyte or salt and sugar water to room temperature
- Be calm and patient, don’t rush, and make sure you are in a quiet environment
- Mount a blanket around it or hold it in your hands especially if the baby is wiggly then administer the liquid slowly using a syringe
- If the baby squirrel drinks too fast, it might choke or allow fluid to enter the nasal area. If liquid start coming out of its nose, turn it upside down and let the liquid flow out entirely from the nose
- After the drinking process, wipe down the squirrel’s face and neck with a wet warm cloth for comfort.
What to Feed Baby Squirrels In Your Backyard
First, you need to keep the baby squirrels in your yard away from predators. Baby squirrels need care for about three months and after that, you can let them go.
Baby squirrels are easier to care for compared to baby rabbits. To feed baby squirrels found in your yard, you need to check for injuries first and if they are injured, call for the animal veterinarian or an experienced wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.
Make sure it is placed in a warm area, it won’t digest any food if it’s cold. A warm bath can help heat the baby and when it drops again, place it in a box with a blanket bed and put the bed on a heating pad or next to a heater. If there is more than one baby squirrel then place them next to each other for comfort.
How and the amount you feed a baby squirrel depends on its age and species. Adult squirrels are likely to feed on anything but baby squirrels have a sensitive stomach. Below are ways you can feed them as they grow.
- Less than 4 weeks: Mix one part powdered milk with three parts Pedialyte or salt and sugar water.
- Week 4 to week 7: Continue with the formula or mix two parts puppy milk with two parts liquid.
- Week 7 to week 9: Can still be fed formula and you can start to introduce squirrel foods like squirrel complete which is high in protein pellets and mixed with healthy nuts.
- Week 9 to 10: Still need formula so feed twice a day and introduce more solid to help maintain healthy bones and get calcium.
- Week 10 to 12: Your squirrels are able to eat healthy solid foods by now so you can feed them with nuts, fruits, and healthy treats. You can also continue to offer formula until it tires itself out.
Keep in mind that a squirrel needs a mother’s milk first to survive as it contains what it needs for a stronger immune system.
5 Food That Should Be Avoided For Baby Squirrels
Naturally, squirrels easily trust humans when it comes to food, meaning they would take anything from you even if it is bad for them. As a baby squirrel caregiver, you must be aware of some foods that shouldn’t be given to baby squirrels as these foods may be problematic to the digestive system.
1. Cow Milk
Cow milk should never be given to baby squirrels to drink. Cow milk doesn’t have any nutritional benefit to offer to squirrels. Baby squirrels’ digestive system is too sensitive to handle this milk. It is not recommended to give baby squirrels cow milk as you will be putting them at risk of diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and abdominal discomfort.
Worst case scenario they could go into shock and could possibly die. However, goat milk is considered a safe option for baby squirrels.
2. Diary Products
Dairy products like cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream are very dangerous to baby squirrels. it can cause them to be dehydrated. Dehydration is a serious issue for baby squirrels, as well as gastrointestinal distress which leads to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach upset.
You probably didn’t know chocolates are toxic to adult squirrels and can be very dangerous to baby squirrels. Chocolates contain a toxin known as alkaline theobromine which can cause fatal issues in baby squirrels. Although they might love to eat chocolate and you may be tempted to indulge them in it, we strongly advise that you should give chocolate to squirrels.
Cereals have no nutritional benefit for squirrels. In addition, cereals usually have high salt and sugar contents which are dangerous to squirrels. We may believe this meal is good for them because they tend to enjoy them but that is not the case. Cereal is definitely a food option for baby squirrels as it may cause them to be malnourished.
5. Processed Foods
All forms of human processed foods such as cookies, candy, bread, pretzels, and pasta must be avoided for baby squirrels even if they are 12 weeks old and ready for solid foods. This is because processed foods are fattening, contain a lot of sugar and salt, and has little to no nutritional value to baby squirrels.
If it is a newborn squirrel then it’s best to reunite them with its mother.
As soon as the baby survives the formula feeding stage then you can introduce it to solid foods however it is healthier not to feed it junk. Baby squirrels need to be given hydrating solution every 2 hours and keep in mind that squirrels are not pets.
A baby squirrel will bond to you just like any other pest but you should not expect a baby squirrel to become a permanent house pet as they love outdoor activities.
Out of curiosity, how do I check for dehydration in squirrels?
Not just baby squirrels here, but generally.
To test for dehydration in baby squirrels, pinch the skin of the back of its neck and if it doesn’t spring back then the baby squirrel is dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration you can watch out for include pale gums, dry skin, lack of appetite, lethargy, and looking wrinkly and thin. You will need to first feed it some Pedialyte and feed it within the next 6 hours.
Hey guys, Fred here.
Before I go about feeding wild animals, do squirrels carry diseases?
An helpful answer would be appreciated. Thanks
Squirrels are known to carry many diseases but very few are known to be contagious or harmful to humans. Diseases that can be transmitted to humans through bites include ringworms, plagues, tularemia, and typhus. Hence never attempt to touch an adult squirrel as they are often stressed and can bite or scratch as a reaction.