Dedicated to making the world a
better place one squirrel at a time
The best outcome for all wildlife is to be raised in its natal environment by its mother in the company of siblings. For baby squirrels, (and most mammals) the information in this section will apply. Species specific information for rabbits, opossums, raccoons, deer and birds can be found by folliwng the Help for Birds and Mammals link to the right.
If you find a baby, please leave it alone if it appears alert, is warm to the touch and appears healthy. Of course, if the baby is in imminent danger (in the street, near a cat, exposed to extreme weather or injured) you will need to collect even a healthy baby. If you see other squirrels nearby or recently saw a squirrel carrying a baby in its mouth, the baby may have ventured out of the nest or dropped from its mother’s mouth while being relocated to an alternate nest site. A mother squirrel will usually attempt to take her young back if she perceives an opportunity to safely do so. If the weather is mild, you can observe the baby from a distance and only retrieve it if the mother doesn’t collect it after a few hours.
If the nest was recently disturbed, damaged or destroyed by weather, home repairs, tree trimming or removal, please allow the mother several hours of undisturbed time to return and move the babies. Some species of squirrels, such as the common urban eastern gray squirrel, maintain multiple nest sites and will relocate the babies if a site exists and she can safely do so. Please contact us for advice before intervening if you are unsure if a nest has been abandoned. Of course, if you know the mother is dead or permanently removed, please collect the babies and contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
Older orphaned babies with eyes-
If a baby is wandering about trying to follow people, it’s most likely doing so not to be cute or social, but because needs help! Baby squirrels rely on their mothers for a long time, weaning gradually from her between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Fall born babies may spend the entire winter in the company of the mother and siblings.
If the baby is on its own prior to weaning, even though it is capable of moving about, it is still totally dependent on the care of its mother.
Unless the mother and siblings are observed nearby, a baby demonstrating this behavior is likely in need of help. Please collect it and contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
If the weather is cold, and you suspect the baby may have been exposed to the elements
for more than a few minutes, gently touch the baby to check if it feels cool to the
touch. The mother won’t care if the baby smells of your scent but she wont retrieve
it if its cold. For cold babies, alway warm the baby before placing it back where
you found it by wrapping it loosely in a soft cloth and placing it next to a warm
bottle wrapped in a towel. Conversely, if it’s an extremely hot day and the baby
is in direct sunlight, provide some shade for the baby and place a cold bottle wrapped
in a towel next to the baby to keep it cool. If the weather is not too cold or hot,
and the baby is in a safe location, then leave the baby where it is.
Once you make sure the baby is not in any immediate danger, retreat a safe distance where you can observe without being seen by its mother. If the mother does not retrieve the baby after a couple of hours, then assume the baby has been orphaned and gently collect it.
For the safety of the mother, baby and pets, please move all pets indoors until the
baby has been retrieved.
If the nest has been raided by predators, it is unlikely that a reunion with its mother will be possible – although you should try anyway. Predators are often attracted to unguarded nests of babies only when the mother has already gone missing. Mother squirrels are instinctually protective of their babies and when you find one that has not been recently cared for and protected, it usually means trouble for baby and its family.
If the baby is cool to the touch it must be warmed. This section discusses methods for warming the baby. See also: Build an Incubator.
Links and other helpful resources to assist you in finding qualified help for injured and orphaned wildlife.
An infant with its eyes-
Most squirrels nest in hollows or drays (a big ball of leaves) located high in trees, so the initial fall may be from heights of 30 feet or greater. If the baby survives the fall, it may have sustained serious injuries. By the time the baby is found, it can be cold, injured, severely dehydrated, starving, stained in urine, and covered in filth, insects and/or larva.
Keep in mind, where one baby is found, others are likely nearby so check frequently over the next few hours and days for more orphans. Squirrel litters range between two to eight young depending on the species.
Squirrel refuge doesn’t hold a miigratory bird permit or those required to accept medium and large sized mammals. Click for Resources for other species.