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!

Please reference our “Quick Tips” located in the upper right corner of our website for instructions on containing, transporting, providing life saving heat, and finding a wildlife rehabilitator.

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.