Wildlife: Squirrels

Are you experiencing an issue with wildlife in your area?  If you have an urgent concern, please get in touch with us right away.  If you are looking for more information, please click on one of the questions below to expand the content and find your answer.  If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at DFW Wildlife Coalition.

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 babyRead 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 102 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.

<liPlease 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!

  • If the animal has been hit by a car, attacked by a cat or dog, and, an adult can safely do so, a helping hand is appreciated.
  • Your personal safety is first and foremost.  Gloves are recommended. If you do not have gloves use fabric such as a towel, T-shirt, or whatever fabric you may have on hand.  Cover the injured animal as this will reduce stress and assist in protecting yourself.  
  • When a mammal is covered, depending on the species, they may still move or struggle, however it will be reduced as compared to not covering the animal as you are reducing the fear of the animal by blocking their vision.  
  • Never pick an animal up by the tail.
  • If the animal is an adult rabies vector, raccoon, fox, coyote or skunk please contact authorities for assistance.
  • An injured animal will try to defend itself.  Do not pick the animal up unless you can safely do so.  If you are bitten or scratched, and the animal is a rabies vector it will have to be tested for rabies.  So, do not risk yourself as you are also jeopardizing the animal’s life.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Remember if you cannot contain safely, contact authorities for assistance or call the hotline at, 972-234-9453.
  • Read FAQ: How to contain and prepare wildlife for transport
  • Read FAQ: Ways to provide heat for orphan or injured wild animal
  • Read FAQ: How to locate a wildlife rehabilitator

Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife! Once you have identified an animal in need of care, it will be necessary to contain the animal so that it can be safely transported to a permitted animal rehabilitator. Only adults should handle wildlife, provided it can be done safely.

Steps in the Transport Process:

  1. Choose an appropriate container for transport.
    Containers need to be chosen based on the wildlife being rescued/transported. For tiny to small animals, a shoe box with a few extra air holes poked from the inside out works well. For medium to older babies, use a small to medium pet carrier or larger box. If using a pet carrier, cover the carrier to make the inside dark.  For adult animals, be sure the container has a lid and that the animal cannot chew through or get out of the container. Remember darkness helps the animal to relax. Never transport with an open container!
  2. Prepare your container
    Provide soft bedding. An old T-shirt or similar fabric is ideal. Avoid fabrics with large loops or an extremely open weave. Towels, terry cloth, and similar fabrics have threads that can get wrapped around little toes and ankles and cut off circulation.
  3. Placing animals in the container
    For baby animals, use an old T-shirt or wear gloves to gently pick up and place the baby wildlife in the container.  Older wildlife will definitely require gloves and the T-shirt or a towel In order to have adequate fabric between you and the terrified animal.  The towel serves two purposes: aids in protecting your hands and covers the little animal’s eyes to make it less afraid as you pick up and place in the container.
  4. Provide heat source.  Read FAQ “Ways to provide heat for orphaned or injured wild animal”.
  5. Reach out to a professional.
    Contact DFW Wildlife Coalition hotline 972-234-9453 or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator for instructions and information on when and where to transport. The hotline is staffed by volunteers and rehabilitators might be caring for animals when you call. It may take an hour or so for a return phone call. Until then, keep the container in a quite dark place away from family pets and children.
  6. Be prepared to transport as soon as possible.
    If you are personally unavailable, check with friends, family, or neighbors.  Often there is someone willing to participate in the rescue. If you still are having difficulty check with your HOA, neighborhood app or Facebook.  Uber is an option as well.
  7. During the transport process:
    ** Please refrain from using the radio while driving. The little life you are transporting is very afraid and the radio will only add to its stress.
    ** Please do not transport in the bed of a pickup truck! Wind, road noise, and extreme temperatures could further compromise the animal.
  8. Meeting the Rehabber:
    When meeting the rehabilitation professional and handing off the animal, please remember to give details of the rescue to the rehabber.
    ** A donation towards the care of the animal would also be deeply appreciated by the rehabber. Rehabilitators do not receive assistance from city or state agencies.

Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife!

Saving a life begins with making sure an orphaned or injured animal has heat. Begin by providing soft bedding for the animal you are rescuing. An old T-shirt or similar fabric is ideal. Avoid fabrics with large loops or an extremely open weave. Towels, terry cloth, and similar fabrics have threads that can get wrapped around little toes and ankles and cut off circulation.

Once you have provided bedding, the next step is to supply warmth. Holding or placing an animal in your pocket is not an adequate or safe way to keep the baby warm.  It is also terrifying for the animal. Remember, to the animal you are rescuing, you are a predator!

Warming techniques:

  • Place 1 cup of uncooked rice in a sock and tie or rubber band the open end. Place in the microwave for 1 minute. If not warm, heat another 30-60 seconds until the sock is warm but NOT HOT. If you don’t have rice, try lentils or similar product.
  • Put hot water in a bottle and place the bottle in a sock. This is a good solution if you are traveling or at the office.
  • If it will be several hours until you can transport the animal to a rehabilitator, use a heating pad set on low.  It is very important to place heating pad under one half of the container only so that the animal can choose the side of the container it prefers.  When checking on the baby, it should be warm but not sweaty or hot.
    • CAUTION: Newer heating pads have automatic shut offs that you may need to monitor if you are keeping the animal overnight.  

The rice sock or hot water bottle will travel with the animal as you are transporting to a wildlife rehabilitator.  Each can be reheated as needed and normally they will each hold the temperature long enough to transport the animal to safety.

There are several options for you as you begin your search for professional help for an animal in need. Remember, the wild animal you have rescued should be respected as such. Please keep children and pets away from wild animals

 

  • DFW Wildlife Coalition telephone hotline 972-234-WILD or 972-234-9453
    Hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days per year.  Our 100{376de46712742e812dd3d98559fb34c156542d2d9d295b06b04bc04c2527f5a7} volunteer operated hotline will assist in finding a wildlife rehabilitator that specializes in the wildlife or type of injury, orphaned, and or conflict or concern you may have.  
  • Animal Help Now (www.ahnow.org)
    If you have called the DFW Wildlife Coalition and it is after hours, you cannot reach a volunteer, or you live outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas and surrounding counties, you may find a wildlife rehabilitator at Animal Help Now website (www.ahnow.org).  Animal Help Now is a national database of wildlife or veterinarian professionals.

 

You may download Animal Help Now, free application for either iPhone or Android called “Animal Help Now”.  This app will work on GPS lists wildlife rehabilitators or veterinarians based on hours of operation.  You may need to search in surrounding cities or counties. If you are searching late at night, you may want to check again in the morning in the event there are other options.  

If you cannot locate a rehabilitator or transport the animal immediately, provide heat all night and do not attempt to feed.  Most animals will not eat when in pain and you can do more harm than good by force feeding or providing food. Please refrain from handling needlessly. Remember, you are a predator and may be causing undo stress and fear.  Prey species can die from stress.  

As tempting as it might be to keep the animal and attempt to care for it yourself, please remember that it is illegal to keep a wild animal. Delay in transporting may be the difference in life or death and the animals best chance at survival rests with being placed with a permitted professional.  If you delay, you might compromise the recovery of the animal you have rescued.

 

ONCE YOU HAVE LOCATED A REHABILITATION PROFESSIONAL

  • Be prepared to transport as quickly as possible once you have located a rehabilitation professional.  If you know that you cannot do so, please reach out to neighbors, family and friends for help in transporting the life you have rescued. Wildlife rehabilitators have their hands full providing feedings, medical attention, and husbandry to the animals in their care; they typically do not have the time or volunteers to pick up wildlife.  If you still cannot locate transportation, please reach out to friends in your HOA, neighborhood app, or Facebook. Uber might also be an option for transport.
  • Once you have placed your animal with the rehabber and provided information about its history with you, please donate to the wildlife rehabilitator as they do not receive assistance from city or state agencies.

Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife!

From time-to-time our domestic pets bring us gifts. Any time a baby wild animal has been in a cat or dog’s mouth it must be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator. If your dog or cat presents you with a squirrel, follow these steps to ensure that the squirrel survives the ordeal.
  • Contain the squirrel in a dark container. Make sure the container has air holes. Provide an old T-shirt for bedding. Towels are not recommended for bedding because the loops in the fabric weave can catch toes, hands, and feet and cause injuries.
  • Provide heat as the baby may be in shock or unable to thermoregulate their body temperature. (Read FAQ Ways to provide heat for orphan or injured wild animal)
  • 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 about wildlife!
As strange as it may sound, we get this call or something similar every year. Many orphaned wildlife will seek assistance if mom has been gone for several days and you were simply the next best thing. If you have had this or a similar situation happen to you, contact a wildlife rehabilitator at once. (Read FAQ How to locate a wildlife rehabilitator)
Until you can speak with a professional it is important to:
  • Keep children and pets away for everyone’s safety.
  • Contain the squirrel in a dark container. Make sure the container has air holes. Provide an old T-shirt for bedding. Towels are not recommended for bedding because the loops in the fabric weave can catch toes, hands, and feet and cause injuries.
  • Do not feed the squirrel. A wildlife rehabilitator must rehydrate the squirrel before resuming a feeding schedule.
  • Transport to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible, as dehydration may be critical. Do not attempt to bottle feed or use a medicine dropper as you can easily aspirate which will result in aspiration pneumonia. When a squirrel has aspiration pneumonia it cannot suckle. This can be a deadly situation.
Thank you for seeking professional assistance with squirrel rehabilitation. 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.
Accidents can happen. If you find that you have unwittingly put squirrels at risk follow these steps to remedy the situation.
  1. Collect the babies. Did the mother survive? If she survived, she is nearby watching what is happening to her babies.
  2. Refer to the FAQ on I found a baby squirrel for details on how to reunite the babies.
  3. After you have concluded the tree trimming, place the container with the babies on the stump or branch of the tree you were trimming.
    • Remember babies must be kept warm! Mother needs two hours to make a new nest.
    • Restore peace in the yard by removing all equipment so that mother will not feel threatened.
  4. Watch from inside and give mother the time to make a new nest and retrieve the babies. Do not leave babies out after dark or extreme weather.
  5. If mother does not retrieve the babies, contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Read FAQ How to locate a wildlife rehabilitator. And read FAQ Ways to provide heat for orphan or injured wild animal and FAQ How to contain, prepare, and transport wildlife.
We have all heard squeaks and scratches from the attic or chimney. What could it be? What should you do?
  • What time of day do you hear the noise? 
  • If the noise is during the daylight you probably have a squirrel. If it is during the months of February through May and August through October there could be babies.
  • Locate potential entry points
  • Our urban wildlife has learned that our homes and out buildings can make good homes. Check the perimeter fascia (roof overhangs) for any entry points. Openings can be rather small and often will have fur on the edges.
If you are hearing noises in your chimney, safely check to see if your chimney cap has been disturbed. If you do not have a chimney cap you will want to schedule having one installed as squirrels, raccoons and chimney sweeps may find your chimney as a desirable home.
  • Eviction is best when removing the unwelcome visitors
Once you know the location(s) of entry, it is easy to evict a squirrel family. An eviction allows the squirrel family to remain together. Methods such as trapping and animal relocation will not solve the problem of animals in the attic. More importantly, trapping and relocation are not as effective and humane as eviction.
Please do not relocate a mother squirrel and her babies. Trapping inevitably leaves young babies behind. Studies reveal that trapped and relocated wildlife do not survive long term. Wild animals are territorial, and a relocated animal is thrust into another’s territory without any knowledge of where shelter, food, and water are located. An animal’s immediate response is to return to their original territory. As has been documented in several studies, many relocated animals are killed on our city streets and highways as they attempt to return to their territory. In addition, as soon as animals are removed by trapping or relocation, their absence creates a vacuum that is soon filled by another animal. Your best option is to evict and then make permanent repairs that will prevent reentry. If permanent repairs must be delayed, make a temporary repair with hardware cloth and stout staples that are at least ¾ inch.
  • How to evict from an attic
It is easy to evict! All you need is utility light and a portable radio tuned to a 24-hour rap or talk station. The most important step is when to introduce these deterrents. When evicting squirrels, first thing in the morning turn on the radio and light in the area where you believe the family is nesting. Squirrels are active in the morning and this is when mother squirrel leaves her nest to forage for food to feed her young. If mother feels that her babies are being threatened she will relocate them. She may actually have an alternative nest and begin immediately. The process of making a new nest may take two hours or so. Turn off the light and radio deterrents at night. If you believe that the squirrels have moved, put a temporary covering over the entry hole such as a newspaper or trash bag. If the temporary covering remains in place for 24 hours, you should immediately begin repairs to close the entry point. If you delay, she or another animal may move back into your attic. In some cases, it may take two days to evict. Be sure you turn deterrents off at night and back on at daylight. On day two, you may add apple cider vinegar-soaked rags as an additional deterrent.
  • How to evict from a chimney
  • Evicting animals from the chimney uses the same deterrents as an eviction from an attic. All you need is utility light and a portable radio tuned to a 24-hour rap or talk station. Place the radio in the firebox and the light into the chimney. You may also want to place apple cider soaked rags in the fire box as an additional deterrent. When you believe the animals have left, cover the area with a temporary covering for 24 hours.
Squirrels can be very entertaining. However, when they move in it is extremely frustrating. Rest assured, you can outsmart and evict. Please feel free to contact the DFW Wildlife Coalition hotline at 972-234-9453 to discuss your eviction if you are having trouble or are unsure. If you desire to hire a professional, call us so we can refer you to a company that will humanely evict and guarantee the job. Be an informed consumer as some wildlife removal companies are not humane. If you have ever tried to out smart a squirrel you know it can be challenging. Call the hotline! We will empower you and save you money.