Put it in an escape proof container. If you are comfortable doing so, pick it up using thick gloves, especially if it is an injured adult. Baby squirrels that have lost their mothers may approach you for help and can be picked up with a towel.Click for details.
Get it warm by putting the container half way on a heating pad set on low. If you do not have a heating pad place a plastic or glass bottle or rubber glove filled with hot water in the container along with the animal making sure they do not become too hot and the water does not leak.Click for details.
Put it in a dark quiet place away from pets and children.
Call a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.
Remember that in most states it is illegal to keep wild animals as pets or to continue to assist them without a permit.
Baby squirrels are found for several reasons. Often because of wind or rain damaging the nest or sometimes because the mother has died and not returned to feed them they begin to crawl around in search of food and fall out of the nest. Often the squirrels receive internal and/or external injuries from branches as they fall. They may also have bloody noses or damaged teeth from landing on the ground. Cats or dogs may locate the downed babies and bring them to you. It is common for juvenile squirrels to approach people for help. If finding a baby squirrel please look and listen for additional ones in the area as there are usually three to a nest but can range from one to seven. You may find them by listening for a high pitched squeal they make when needing help. You can also look for the leaves that made up the nest. Be sure to check any downed nest carefully for all the babies. Squirrels especially flying squirrels often nest in tree cavities and sometimes bird houses as well. Back to top.
Handle the squirrel carefully and as little as possible in case of injury. Very young baby squirrels rarely bite or carry rabies but often do have fleas and can transmit other diseases. If in doubt wear gloves to protect yourself. Adult squirrels will bite! The baby may have internal injuries and handling it may cause further damage. Playing with wild animals can cause diarrhea and imprinting. Diarrhea is hard to cure and often fatal, imprinting is a legal reason for euthanasia. Back to top.
The baby you find may be very cold, check the temperature by touch and environment. Put the squirrel in a container with an old t-shirt and heat source. Carefully dry it if wet. You may place one end of the container on a heating pad on a low setting, use a plastic bag, soda bottle or tied rubber glove with hot water as a source of heat. Be sure they do not leak and check the baby's temperature often. Keep in a dark quiet place and away from children and pets. Back to top.
DO NOT FEED the animal. This is most important! The baby will need hydrating by a veterinarian or rehabilitator as soon as possible. Feeding any animal milk or feed while cold and or dehydrated can cause death. Baby squirrels also aspirate very easily when given fluids. The fluids can go into the nose and lungs causing pneumonia which is often fatal.
If you have fed the mammal please tell the rehabilitator so they will know how to best help it.
Mammals require special formula and food at different stages of their life in order for them to grow into healthy adults able to reproduce. Cow's milk or other commercial milks are never a good option for baby wildlife. Most commercial milks and a diet of nuts and seed can cause great harm to mammals. Nuts and seed are high in fat and prevent absorption of other nutrients resulting in long term health problems such as Metabolic Bone Disease and osteomalacia. For these and other reasons it is illegal in our state continue to assist wildlife and best to find professional help. Back to top.
Cat bites are serious. Be sure to tell the rehabilitator if a cat has had the animal in its mouth. A cat's saliva contains Pasturella multocida which is highly infective and can kill an animal quickly. Regardless of confirmed puncture wounds the animal should be put on antibiotics immediately. Back to top.
Keep the animal in a quiet place away from children and pets. It is not good for the animal's long term survival to become comfortable with humans and predators. Although it may seem like a great learning experience for your children, many things can go wrong and it is best to get help before the animal is in critical condition. Many wildlife rehabilitators need volunteers and may welcome your help with healthy wildlife in care. Ask if you can volunteer and have a positive experience. Back to top.
For Our Veterinary Heroes That Accept Wildlife.
We have found it is best for the baby squirrel if it is kept warm but not fed before going to a rehabilitator unless it is dehydrated. The rehabilitator may use a different milk replacer and changing formulas can cause diarrhea and other issues.
Please rehydrate gradually, not in a single treatment. Use only an isotonic fluid such as Lactated Ringer Solution. It is preferred to be used orally over a 24 hour period. Use subcutaneously if the dehydration is extreme. Back to top.
If you need to find a local wildlife rehabilitator please use this link.Locating Rehabbers.