Emergency Care for Baby Squirrels
Good luck..if you need anything else go to the squirrel board
Don’t try to feed the squirrel.
Don’t handle him more than you have to.
No loud voices, TV, music, or bright lights.
No children or pets in the same room!
1. Warm the Baby (never feed a cold squirrel!)
-Cup the baby in your hands or under your shirt next to your skin.
-Fill a plastic bottle with very warm water. Wrap in a cloth, place next to baby, and cover him. Reheat every 2 hours.
-“Rice Buddy”: Fill a sock with 1 cup of rice or dried beans and microwave for 30 seconds. Place next to baby and cover him. Reheat every 2 hours.
2. Find a Box or Container
A shoebox will do for small babies. A baby that can walk will need a larger box with a lid (with holes). Put a clean baby blanket, flannel shirt, or piece of fleece in the bottom of the box. No towels or terrycloth. Squirrels can get tangled in the loops. Place baby on the material and cover him with one flap. If you have a heating pad, turn it on low and place it under half of the box (not IN the box!) so baby can move away if he gets too warm. You can use the plastic bottle or rice buddy described above, but these are only temporary methods until you get a heating pad, since they must be reheated every 2 hours and won't keep baby warm all night.
NOTE: Monitor his temperature so he doesn’t chill or overheat. His feet should feel warm to the touch.
If the baby is injured, is having trouble breathing, has fly eggs on his fur, or is very skinny or dehydrated, he needs emergency care by an experienced rehabber or vet.
3. Rehydrate the Baby
Most babies are dehydrated when you find them and must be rehydrated before you can feed them. Never feed formula or food of any kind to a dehydrated baby!
Check for Dehydration
Pinch the skin on the back of his neck. If it doesn’t spring back immediately, the baby is dehydrated. If the pinched skin stays up like a tent for more than a second, the baby is badly dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration: pale grayish gums, dry mouth, sunken eyes, whites around eyes showing, rough spiky fur, dry scaly skin.
NOTE: If baby is badly dehydrated, he will need subcutaneous fluids, which can only be given by a rehabber or vet.
Supplies You Will Need:
--Heating pad without auto shut-off (if you don’t already have one)
--Pedialyte (any flavor)*
--Plastic syringes (1 cc size; no needles. Ask the pharmacist to get these for you) An eyedropper can also work.
These are available at most drugstores. You can also order supplies from Chris’ Squirrels and More. (http://www.squirrelsandmore.com
*If you can’t find Pedialyte at the store, here is a recipe for homemade Pedialyte:
--1 teaspoon salt
--3 Tablespoons sugar
--1 quart warm water
Mix all ingredients in warm water. Store in refrigerator.
How to Prepare the Pedialyte
Use a plastic syringe (with or without a nipple). Never use pet nursers or doll bottles. They will choke the baby. Fill a coffee mug with hot water. Fill the syringe with Pedialyte and place it in the mug for a couple of minutes. Squirt a drop on the inside of your wrist to make sure the liquid isn’t too hot. It should feel barely warm on your skin.
A tiny baby can be held in your hand. A baby with fur can lie on a flat surface on his stomach. A baby that can walk can be held upright or he can drink sitting up. Hold the syringe so the tip points UP to the baby’s mouth and the handle is down. Don’t let the baby get cold. Keep him wrapped up while he eats.
How to Feed Fluids
Place the syringe tip on the baby’s lips (from the side) and squeeze out one drop for him to taste. Don’t squirt a steady stream. Let him swallow one drop before squeezing more. GO SLOW! It sometimes takes a feeding or two for them to catch on. Hairless babies are fed drop by drop. With older babies (once they catch on) you can squeeze slowly for one second, wait for him to swallow, then squeeze more.
If fluids dribble out his mouth or come out his nose, you are going too fast. Stop and tilt the baby’s head down so the fluid drains out (support his head and neck like you would a human baby). Then wipe his nose and mouth with a tissue. Start over, slower. NOTE: There is now a chance your baby will develop aspiration pneumonia from inhaling fluid in his lungs. This is fatal. Please contact a rehabber or vet, or the people at The Squirrel Board, for assistance.
How Much Fluid to Feed
Give 1/2 to 1 cc every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours. Then give it every 2 hours around the clock. Do not feed Pedialyte for more than 24 hours. It is not a subsitute for formula. Refrigerate Pedialyte after opening. Throw away any open bottles after 3 days.
Check the baby every few hours using the “pinch test” described above. As baby rehydrates, he should “perk up” and become more active. Rehydrate all babies for at least 2 hours before feeding formula or food of any kind. Severely dehydrated babies should be rehydrated for 24 hours before feeding.
Note: If your baby will not take any fluids, he must go to a rehabber immediately or he will die.
A baby that is not fully furred will need help to pee and poo. Normally, the squirrel’s mother will lick the baby’s belly and bottom to stimulate him to go. Before and after feeding, use a warm, damp kleenex, cotton ball, or soft cloth to gently tickle the baby’s genital area. Do this until baby goes. NOTE: A dehydrated baby may not pee or poo until he has had several feedings of Pedialyte.