So you think you found a baby squirrel but you aren’t sure. What should you do?

  • Make sure that the animal is indeed a squirrel
    • Are the toenails black?  If yes, it is a squirrel, if not, consider other options such as an opossum, mouse, or rat.
    • Did you find it at the base of a tree or known squirrel nest? A squirrel nest typically looks like a messy bunch of leaves and twigs in the top of a tree.
    • If you have determined that the animal is indeed a squirrel, the best option is to try to reunite the baby with its mother. Squirrel moms know what is best for their babies and will not reject their baby because you touched it! The only reason not to reunite is if you feel the baby is injured or you have seen a dead female squirrel nearby, or if your cat or dog found the baby.  

STEPS FOR REUNIFICATION

  1. Warm the baby
    Read FAQ Ways to provide heat for orphan or injured wild animal.
  2. This is very important! Please understand that you are reuniting a prey species. Because of this, the mother will be timid and afraid of anything that is too large or intimidating. You look like a predator to her. To facilitate reunification:
    1. Put all pets and children indoors. It is important that the area in which you are reuniting the baby with its mother is calm and you are inside.  Do not attempt reunite if you or your neighbor are operating loud equipment, the sun is setting, it is raining, or there is other extreme weather taking place.
    2. Select a small bread basket or similar container that is no deeper than three inches. You may hang or attach the container to the lower level of the tree if it is safe to do so and the squirrel cannot fall out of the container.  This is a concern if the squirrel is older. Or place container on the ground under the tree where you found the baby.
    3. Provide warmth for the baby. Place a rice-filled sock that has been warmed in the microwave in the container. Place a piece of T-shirt over the sock.
    4. Place the baby in the container. Do not cover the baby.  The baby must be warm to the touch before you place the container under the tree or location where you believe it fell. Our body temperature is 98.6o F and a squirrel’s is 102o F, so it should feel warm but not hot.
    5. If you are comfortable doing so, as you place the baby under the tree, press on its back leg just enough to get it to squeal but not hard enough to hurt it.  This will alert the mother squirrel, just like your babies’ cry alerts you.  

AFTER BEGINNING REUNIFICATION:

  1. Wait inside; do not linger in the yard.  Give mom two hours to retrieve baby. You may observe her checking the baby; however, if she must make a new nest, it will take as much as two hours. Once the nest is complete, she will return and take the baby to the new nest.  
  2. If you have not seen any adult squirrel and the baby has not been retrieved after two hours, please contact the DFW Wildlife Coalition hotline or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.  (Read FAQ How to locate a wildlife rehabilitator)
  3. Never leave a baby out at night!  During cold weather check the baby frequently to make sure it is warm.  In hot weather do not attempt during the heat of the day or check baby frequently to make sure it is not overheating.  If it is night, wait until the morning; however, keep the baby warm and do not feed the baby. It will not die overnight from hunger.
  4. Once mom squirrel and baby are reunited, relax and pat yourself on the back! Thank you!

PLEASE REMEMBER THESE CRITICAL FINAL WORDS:

  • The baby must be warm or the mother will not take it.  A baby that is still pink with no fur cannot thermoregulate their body temperature and must be kept warm.  
  • Resist all temptations to feed, you can do more harm than good; that can lead to death.
  • Please consider keeping your cats indoor during baby squirrel seasons (February/April and August/October, however may vary with Texas climate) and preferably all year.  Our wildlife will thank you.
  • Contact a wildlife rehabilitator for assistance.  (Read FAQ How to locate a wildlife rehabilitator) Do not attempt to keep the squirrel no matter how cute it might be. Not only do baby animals require the specialized care that a professional rehabilitator can provide, it is also illegal to possess wild animals without the proper permits

Thank you for caring for wildlife!