Elizabeth Kricfalusi’s tips for squirrel lovers

Elizabeth Kricfalusi is a San Jose-based freelance writer who fosters orphaned squirrels for the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley (WCSV), a nonprofit organization that rehabilitates sick, injured, and orphaned birds and mammals until they’re able to be released back into the wild. She chronicles her squirrelly adventures at Life in Squirreldom.

(“Shoebox of Squirrels” text and image copyright of E. Kricfalusi)

shoebox-of-squirrels-blogDid you know that Eastern Grey and Fox squirrels have two breeding seasons?

As we head into this year’s second wave, the WCSV will soon be facing a new influx of babies.

In 2008, more than 250 arrived from July through October.

Although we know the people bringing them in have only the best intentions, in many cases it would have been better for the squirrels if they’d been left where they are. We call this situation “over-rescue.”

If you happen to find some baby squirrels, here are tips on how to tell whether they need help or not and what to do in either case. Visit the WCSV website for more details.

  1. Check their condition. If the squirrels are bleeding, dehydrated, or appear to be struggling in any way, call a wildlife rehabilitation center in your area for further instructions. A directory of centers is available at Wildlife Rehabber. If they’ve been caught by a cat, they will need to be taken to a center for antibiotics because a cat’s saliva contains a substance toxic to them.
  2. Place healthy babies near their nesting site. Put the squirrels in a shoebox padded with cotton t-shirts (not towels, because they could get their nails caught in them) and place them at the base of the tree they fell out of, or any tree if you’re not sure which one it was. Keep family pets inside the house. If it’s starting to get dark out, bring the box inside, place one half of it on a heating pad on low, and cover the babies with a couple more t-shirts. Do NOT give them any food or water. In the morning, you can put them back under the tree.
  3. Watch from a distance. The mother may be close by but may not show herself if she senses a threat (i.e. you). You can either watch to see if she returns to take them back to her nest or check the box every half hour or so to see if they’re still there. The WCSV website has a wonderful story about a man who, earlier this year, had the rare privilege of watching a Fox squirrel rescue all five of her babies.

If the mother hasn’t come back for her babies after a few hours, it’s time to take them in to your local wildlife center. Don’t try to raise them on your own—squirrels have very specific requirements for food, housing, and medical treatment, so licensed rehab facilities will give them the best possible chance for survival.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your experience with us and giving us a close-up view of how baby squirrels like to sleep.


 

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Comments

Thanks, Jodi, for helping to get the word out about this issue. It’s a great public service for wildlife rehabilitators everywhere (not to mention the squirrels!)

i found a baby squirrel in my drive, it has fur and seems to be a little bit bigger than those shown in the nest….i have a ton of trees in my yard…..i did call some local vets and they were of no help and i also called the game commissioner and they were of no help….i have it by the treeit doesnt seem to be hurt but i truly can not tell, i am a nurse…and tried to assess it in a people way….but….i am not sure why i am even writing…i need answers now as to what to do,but it at least helps knowing someone is out there reading this………..thanks.cyndi

Cyndi, have you checked this directory of wildlife rehabilitators to find a resource in your area?

http://www.wildliferehabber.org/

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