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Odd Squirrel Behavior? You Could Have an Orphaned Baby Squirrel

Updated on October 9, 2018
Faceless39 profile image

I'm a dental hygienist, pyrography artist, avid gardener, writer, vegetarian, world traveler, and many other things!

Orphaned Baby Squirrel
Orphaned Baby Squirrel | Source

My Baby Squirrel Story

I was out in the back yard planting flower seeds when, suddenly, a baby squirrel came through the fence connecting our yard to the neighbor's yard.

Instead of being afraid of me, the squirrel came galloping right toward me. It wasn't a slow, curious walk, but more a fast, furious run right at me. As it got closer I realized it was just a baby, which was even more odd. I'd never seen anything like it.

My instant reaction was, "Maybe it has rabies." I remembered bits and pieces of what rabies was like: odd animal behavior, such as animals seeking you out. This baby squirrel wasn't foaming at the mouth, but no matter where I went to in the yard, it galloped after me.

Not only did the baby squirrel not eat the sunflower seeds I put next to it, but later on it went to the garden patch I'd just planted with seeds and started actually eating old, dead leaves from last fall.

Every once in a while the baby squirrel would close its eyes, tilt its head upward, and *squee, squee, squeee* I assumed for its mother.

Then it dawned on me: "This baby squirrel isn't rabid; it's fallen from its nest! Oh no!" I went inside to see what I could find on the internet. I was amazed to find this was a common occurrence every spring and fall, and learned the basics about what I should do.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) when I went back outside about 15 minutes later, the little squirrel baby was gone.

I can only hope the mother squirrel was waiting for me to leave the yard so she could come rescue her baby. I haven't seen it since, but I did notice an adult squirrel living in a tree in the neighbor's yard.

Video: Eating Dry Leaves

Squirrels are commonly orphaned.
Squirrels are commonly orphaned. | Source

Squirrel Orphans Are Common

Squirrels are among the most-orphaned of any wild animals. It's fairly common to see them, especially in the spring and fall (northern hemisphere.)

Wind can knock them from their nests, weather can damage the nest, a sibling might accidentally topple them over the side due to overcrowding, a predator might have wrecked the nest, or the mother may have been killed by predators or a vehicle.

Infant squirrels start to venture out of the nest at about two months old and are weaned by three months. They sometimes stray away from the nest before their survival skills are developed. These inexperienced infants may not fear people or predators.

— Thesquirrelboard.com
  • Squirrels give birth twice a year: in the spring (January-April) and again in the fall (August-September.) Litters are generally 2-4 babies, who are self-sustaining by 12-14 weeks, when they'll leave the nest.
  • Orphaned squirrels leave the nest before they've been instructed how to survive, what to be afraid of, how to build a nest, or how to forage for food. This leaves them at the mercy of predators and the elements.

No instinctual fear.
No instinctual fear. | Source

Warning Signs That You've Found an Orphaned (or Lost) Squirrel Baby

  • Strange behavior, such as no fear of humans, or a seeking-out of humans. Such as to loud sounds or close contact with other animals.
  • Alone and disoriented with no sense of where to go.
  • Intermittent squeaking to attract its mother.
  • Inability to climb or forage for food.
  • No sign of adult squirrels.

Keep the baby squirrel warm.
Keep the baby squirrel warm. | Source

What to Do

Comfort:

Prepare a cardboard box with old clothes or towels for it to snuggle into, as baby squirrels always require outside warmth and easily succumb to hypothermia. Make sure the squirrel can make its way into the box. Place it next to the squirrel, then step away to a distance to watch it.

Watch:

When you've found an orphaned baby squirrel, make sure it's orphaned. Keep the squirrel at a distance where you can watch it and step in if a predator comes after it. If the mother is in the area, she'll want to collect her baby, but she won't do so if you're anywhere near it. Wait a minimum of a few hours to make sure it's "actually" an orphan.

Warm:

If you've determined you have an orphan, start to actively keep it warm. Wrap it in old clothes or a towel, and if you have a heating pad, put it on low under the blankies. Baby squirrels get chilled easily, and often haven't yet developed a thick layer of fur. Don't be afraid of the baby squirrel; they are completely innocent and trusting creatures.

Hydrate:

Make sure the baby squirrel has enough fresh water to drink, but don't get it wet.

Rehabilitate:

Try to find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area. If you can't find one, take the baby squirrel to a veterinarian. The vet can check the baby out and will probably be able to recommend someone who will be able to care for it.

Were you aware that baby squirrels are often orphaned?

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Important Resources

© 2012 Kate P

Comments

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    • profile image

      Poop 

      18 months ago

      Thanks for sharing. Was pursued at night but wasn't sure of why. Next time I'll be prepared.

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 

      3 years ago from Minnesota

      I have a 10 acre wooded yard and have lots of squirrels. The dog chases them around. Even the adults fall from the trees when smaller branches break. Maybe someday I will see a baby squirrel, too, but it's not coming in the house.

    • Faceless39 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate P 

      3 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Thanks for all the squirrel-friendly comments.. it boosts my spirit to know that so many people are learning more about abandoned squirrels! Save The Squirrels!!

    • TarrinLupo profile image

      Tarrin Lupo 

      4 years ago from Peterborough NH

      What a super sweet article, you have earned +1 Squirrel Karma. You are awesome person to care enough about life to write this. .

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I found this Hub delightful to read because when I was very young, I took in an orphaned baby squirrel and took care of it until one day when it grew up, it left to go on its own.

      As an adult looking back on it, I had questioned why my parents were not afraid that it might have rabies. But unknown to me, my father had tested it. It was an interesting and rewarding experience that I never forgot. I'm glad to see someone else knew about orphaned squirrels and wrote about it. Voted up.

    • Faceless39 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate P 

      6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Bac2basics, that would be heartbreaking! But the good news is that you did all you could to avoid it. I'm sure the little guy felt loved and cared for before s/he passed. I also wasn't aware that Spain had a shortness of animal care facilities. That's so sad. Hopefully there are plenty of people like you willing to do what it takes to help them out! Thanks again for the comment.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 

      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Faceless. When I found my baby squirrel. I did all the right things from the start. Took him to the vet the next day, and also got loads of info from the internet on what and when to feed him. In Spain there aren´t the same care facilities for any stray, abandoned, or orphaned animals either domestic or wild . I just did my best, but still lost him. It was very upsetting.

    • Faceless39 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate P 

      6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      It is difficult to take care of baby animals and baby humans alike. Each has its own specific needs--like baby squirrels need very specific types of foods at very specific times.

      Hopefully this hub will serve as a starting point for when you initially find odd squirrel behavior. When unsure, I hope you will contact a wildlife rehabilitator, who will know how to handle the situation.

      Thanks for the comments! It's something that we should all be aware of, just in case.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 

      6 years ago from Spain

      I had an orphaned red Squirel baby a few years back. Unfortunately he died after 10 days. I did my best but it´s just so hard to care for very young baby animals. It was really heartbreaking watching him die and there wasn´t a thing I could do to help.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image

      Claire 

      6 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      This is great. I have a squirrel that visits my garden everyday to share the bird food I have out. Will definitely keep aware of this just in case

    • Faceless39 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate P 

      6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      I don't think many people know how common this is. I (and the baby squirrels) appreciate the shares. I know I would've been more effective had I had this information myself.

      Thanks for the uplifting comments!

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      This is beautiful information, beautiful story, beautiful pictures! I would be ready to help out orphaned baby squirrels (if ever I encounter one), just not sure if my dog would be barking continuously at it. Voted up and will share!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      An excellent hub and very useful information. Luckily I haven't come across an orphan squirrel - and had no idea that it was so common. But thankfully your wonderful hub has given many of us the means to do our best if we come across this situation. I think you've probably saved the lives of quite a few babies with your excellent hub! Many thanks for sharing this vital information!

      Voted up + shared!

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