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Choosing the right nipple and syringe ensures controlled feeding rates and amounts.
This section discusses the tools rehabilitators use to avoid common feeding problems.
Depending on the degree of dehydration, the squirrel should initially be provided an infant rehydration formula such as Pedialye® for at least the first twelve hours (more for severely dehydrated or emaciated babies!.) Once fully hydrated, you may start to transition the baby over to an appropriate milk replacer. When transitioning from a hydration fluid to any formula, follow the same transition method as described in the Transitioning Formulas section below.
Since squirrel formula is generally not available in your local pet store and it will take a few days for the formula to arrive, the Squirrel Board (www.thesquirrelboard.com) recommends a temporary formula that may be fed in the interim.
Please note: this is not a nutritionally complete milk replacement formulation that can sustain an infant long term but is intended to be used as a temporary measure until the Fox Valley Formula arrives.
Three parts fresh goat’s milk (made for human consumption and available at most health food stores that sell groceries) to one part plain or vanilla yogurt (full fat with no artificial sweeteners). Once the baby is eliminating (defecating normally) gradually start adding 1 part heavy whipping cream.
Because of manufacturing issues, Esbilac puppy milk replacer is no longer being recommended for squirrels or other wildlife. Nonetheless, if nothing else is available, squirrels have survived on a commercial puppy milk replacement formula just fine. Puppy milk replacer is generally better than one made for kittens since their protein needs are much higher. Never use a milk replacer for human infants or cow’s milk. See image to right.
The advantage of using a puppy formula is that it can be readily purchased at most pet stores; however, please note that there are disadvantages:
Combine 2 parts very hot water with one part Fox Valley formula and mix well. After mixing, let formula rest for at least 20 minutes to cool and allow air bubbles to settle. Refrigerate mixed formula for up to 48 hours.
Milk replacers for babies transitioning to formula or those with stool or digestive problems should be supplemented with a small amount of acidophilus (1/8 tsp) per ¼ cup mixed formula or plain yogurt.
If this is the first time you are offering formula to the baby, the baby must be fully hydrated and slowly transitioned onto full strength formula. Reference transition instructions below.
Important information on how to administer nutrition in a controlled manner to ensure common life threatening feeding problems, such as choking, aspiration pneumonia , bloat and diarrhea and are avoided.
Most digestion and intestinal problems can be traced to improper feeding methods. This section cover diagnosing and correcting feeding problems and provides guidance when veterinary care may be warranted..
Thoroughly mix together:
Most orphaned and injured wildlife has some degree of dehydration. After treating life threatening illness and warmth, hydration is the next step in stabilizing the squirrel.
Important! Whipping cream is harder to digest but is necessary to increase the fat content in the formula. Start by adding in a very small amount and slowly increasing with each feeding.
Once the Fox Valley formula arrives, gently transition from the temporary formula to the full strength Fox Valley formula over six feedings. This schedule helps the baby to slowly transition to the new formula without overly stressing its delicate digestive system.
Squirrel Refuge recommends using Fox Valley Day One formula for squirrels. For squirrels up to four weeks of age, the best formula is Fox Valley Day One 32/40 (appropriate for baby squirrels under four weeks, eastern cottontail, or baby opossum under 45 grams). For squirrels over four weeks (or with eyes opened), Fox Valley Day One 20/50 is recommended.
Both products can be readily ordered directly from Fox Valley Animal Nutrition Inc.
The feeding schedule and amount per feeding depends on the age and weight of the orphan. This information provides guidance to ensure the proper amount is provided at the correct frequency to support normal growth.
Need more help?
Contact us or post a question on The Squirrel Board’s Nutrition Forum