Squirrel Wildlife Rehabilitation

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Baby Squirrel Feeding With Eyes Closed




ATTENTION  The information contained on this web page is not designed to take the place of a wildlife rehabilitator or a veterinarian BUT is designed to give you some guidance in what you can do to help the baby squirrel(s) you have found until you can reach a rehabilitator. If it is an injured adult, please take PRECAUTIONS so that you do not get bitten.

Make sure you read this entire page first before attempting to do anything as there is a lot of information here and it is all very important.

Get The Baby Warm

Before trying to give the young squirrel anything to eat, you must first get him warm. Make sure that you warm him slowly and make sure you monitor his warming so as not to overheat him. The normal temperature for a squirrel is 99 degrees, which is close to that of our own temperature of 98.6 degrees.

Place the squirrel in a box or plastic container with a clean cloth in the bottom of the box (preferably a cloth baby diaper or baby receiving blanket, NO TOWELS) and place a light cover over the squirrel. The reason I say "no towels" is the squirrels will get their toenails hung in the loops and either rip out a toenail, break a toe, or break a foot trying to get loose.

I use the see thru Rubbermaid boxes to put my squirrels in. I cut out sections of the lid and place screen over the holes and use duct tape to tape the screen in place from the outside of the box. This allows the squirrels to get air and keeps them in the box. I use bigger boxes as the squirrels grow and need more room to roam around. Make sure that the boxes you use have a lid that locks on.

Put a heating pad under one half of the box with a towel folded twice between the box and the heating pad. If the squirrel is unable to move on his own, you will need to monitor the temperature of the squirrel very closely so he does not overheat. When he is warmed up, he should feel warm to your touch. A healthy, fully grown squirrel that has plenty of cover to snuggle under will not need the heating pad once he has reached his normal body temperature.

Baby squirrels that are kept in a dry environment could develop dry skin. A little baby oil rubbed on daily for a few days may help. You can also place a wet cloth over one corner of the box and that may help add some moisture to the box. Make sure this wet cloth DOES NOT get near the baby squirrel.


Before feeding the baby anything, they should be rehydrated first. To feed the baby formula without rehydrating it first can kill the baby.

Pour some Pedialyte into a small container (only what you will use for one feeding) and warm it in the microwave, but do not over heat it. Test a few drops on your wrist to make sure that it is not too hot. You do not want to burn their mouth. You should give some Pedialyte every 15 minutes for 2 hours. Any unused Pedialyte must be stored in the refrigerator and must be thrown away after 72 hours. Any amount that is unused for that feeding should be thrown away and not put back in the bottle.

You should test to make sure the baby is rehydrated by slightly pinching the skin between the shoulder blades. If it remains tented or goes down very slowly, the baby is still dehydrated and you should continue rehydrating. If the skin falls back down quickly, then the baby is rehydrated and you can start them on formula.

If you do not have access to Pedialyte, you can make a homemade rehydration solution as follows: NOTE: Pedialyte and the following recipe are NOT a formula that the baby should be on for an extended period of time, it is only for rehydration.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons regular table sugar
  • 1 quart warm water
  • NOTE: This is NOT a formula that the baby should be on for an extended period of time, it is only for rehydration.
Stir all of these ingredients together and make sure they are well mixed and everything is dissolved. Be sure to store this in the refrigerator.

What Formula To Feed

Updated 3-29-2013

Once the squirrel has been rehydrated with Pedialyte, you can start to give powdered puppy milk replacer mixed as follows: Esbilac Puppy Milk Replacer, (but you MUST check the ingredients on the label of the can to make sure the first 5 ingredients are listed as: Vegetable oil, Casein, Whey Protein Concentrate, Cream and Dried skim milk) , reconstituting it with distilled water. Feeding an improper formula can result in Metabolic Bone Disease as well as other medical problems that will not be reversible once the damage is done. You can look at these photos and see what an Improper Diet can do.

Mix the powdered formula 1 part powder to 2 parts water (USE DISTILLED WATER ONLY) and 1/8 part of heavy whipping cream. By whipping cream I mean real cream that is found in 1/2-pint cartons in the dairy case, not substitute whipped creams. Only mix what you will use in a 1 day period and keep it refrigerated. The powdered formula can be kept in the freezer.

You should gradually introduce the new formula to the baby. You should mix 25% formula with 75% rehydration solution for the first couple of feedings. Then you need to mix it 50% formula with 50% rehydration solution for 2-3 feedings. Then you mix it 75% formula with 25% rehydration solution for 2-3 feedings.

Make sure that you warm this formula up in the microwave and only warm up what you will feed in ONE feeding. Be real careful not to overheat and you can test the formula on your wrist to make sure it is not too hot.

Elimination Of Waste

Young squirrels who do not have their eyes open will need help in eliminating their waste. After each feeding gently stroke their genital and anal area with a Kleenex for about 60 seconds. Normal urine will be a light yellow color. If the urine comes out dark it indicates that the squirrel has held the urine too long, and will need to be stimulated more often. If the urine is thick and honey colored, the squirrel is dehydrated and needs to be placed on a rehydrating formula. The normal bowel movement of an infant will be soft and have a deep yellow color to it once he has gotten the formula in him. When you first get him it will be almost black and well formed. After the squirrels eyes open you can cut back on the number of times you stimulate him to go, but make sure you watch to make sure they are going on their own. Continue to help them as long as it is needed. You may sprinkle with corn starch if a rash develops.

Feeding Tools

When you first receive a young squirrel, it will not be familiar with a dropper or syringe. DO NOT USE A PET NURSER, the babies will drink to fast and get formula in their lungs and get pneumonia or literally drown. Most of the time it takes several feedings for him to get use to eating. The best thing I have found to feed a baby squirrel with is a 1cc syringe with a Catac nipple attached to the end. These nipples can be ordered through mail order catalogs where they carry pet supplies. You can order them online from Chris's Squirrels and More, item ST1 Nipple. The nipples will fit on the end of a syringe (without the needle of course). You must cut the very tip end off of the nipple to open it up.

You have to be very careful when feeding the baby squirrels, they can suck so hard that they will get the milk down in their lungs and this can cause pneumonia. If the formula starts to come out of the nose, immediately stop feeding and dab the nose with a tissue to absorb any formula that comes out of his nose or mouth. Do no allow him to breathe the formula back in. If you should notice a faint clicking when he breathes or any difficulty breathing, you should contact a veterinarian immediately. They may need to be put on antibiotics for pneumonia. Also listen and watch for the symptoms when you first receive a squirrel. They can also get pneumonia from the exposure of laying in the cold until they are found. If these respiratory problems are treated in the early stages with antibiotics, they can be cleared up. Make sure the veterinarian you use has experience in dealing with wildlife as their dosages are different than most animals.

Weighing The Baby Squirrels

I cannot stress the point of weighing the babies on a DAILY basis on GRAM scales. The weight gain/loss from day to day is not enough to be picked up accurately on scales that weigh in ounces. By the time any weight loss shows up on the ounce scales, it will probably be too late to save the baby.

Gram scales can be bought almost anywhere and they are worth every penny when you have to base what a baby gets to eat every day on his/her weight. If you are going to be rehabbing, you should invest in a real good set of scales. I paid over $100 for mine 8 years ago and they have more than paid for themselves. So do yourself and the babies a favor and get a set of good gram scales, you never know when it could save their life.

Feeding Schedule

Begin feeding every 2 hours when you first get a baby squirrel after it has been rehydrated, then adjust the schedule based on age as follows. Please note the amount of each feeding has been left out as this has to be based on the babies weight in grams.

If you want to see the chart, you have to click on the link, but keep in mind that every baby MUST be weighed once a day and his weight used in the mathematical equasion below the chart on this page to determine how much they must be fed.

1 based on weight every 2 hours YES
2 based on weight every 3 hours YES
3 based on weight every 3-4 hours YES
4 based on weight every 4 hours YES
5 based on weight every 4 hours If Needed
6 based on weight every 4 hours If Needed

I use a formula to figure out, based on the squirrels weight, how much they should eat each feeding. We take the squirrels weight in grams and multiply by .25 then divide by the number of feedings in a 24 hours period. That will give you the number of cc's per feeding.

EXAMPLE: Squirrel weighs 25 grams X .25 = 6.25, then divide by the number of feedings, let's say 12 = .5208 or .52 cc's.

5% Feeding Rule

You can also figure the amount to feed going by the 5% feeding rule. The stomach capacity is generally 5% of their body weight in grams (this will NOT work if you weigh in ounces). You can weigh the baby on your gram scales and multiply that by 5% and that will be the amount you should feed for that feeding. This amount will be a little more than figuring it the other way, but this is easier for some people to calculate.

EXAMPLE: Squirrel weighs 50 grams X 5% = 2.5 cc's

Squirrels will overeat and get diarrhea if you are not careful. That is why feeding based on their weight is more accurate. You will need some digital scales that can weigh in grams. The squirrels need to be weighed every day at the same time to determine if they are gaining or losing weight. As long as you are not losing ground you are OK, there should be a weight gain every day, but if occasionally stay the same that is OK.

Squirrels are like humans in that they come in different sizes and the schedule may need to be adjusted to fit the squirrel. A small 5 weeks old that has his eyes open, but is not developing as he should needs to be feed every 3 hours. Also a large 4 week old that does not have his eyes open but eats like a horse (6-8 cc) maybe OK on a 4 hour feeding schedule.

Squirrels that are 6 to 8 weeks old should be eating solid foods and should not have to be fed the formula as often. Offering water in a hanging bottle will supply the squirrel with liquid if they get thirsty and yes they must be shown how to drink from the hanging bottle.

NOTE: When you are feeding a baby squirrel, make sure you feed him in a natural position on his stomach with his head up.

Baby squirrels may nurse on the males genitals when they are housed together. Watch to see that the genital area does not get swollen. If necessary, you may have to separate the squirrels until they are a little older. You can try rubbing Vicks vapor rub or Bitter Apple on the male and sometime this stops them, but not always. I have never had any luck with the thumb sucking medicine for children, but you can try that also.


Bloating can occur when a squirrel eats too much and too often. Also it can be caused from eating too fast and getting air in their stomach. Watch the stomach to make sure that it does not become too distended. If this does occur, skip a feeding and decrease the amount of formula for the next feeding. Lengthening the amount of time between feedings and stimulating to encourage the elimination of waste will also help.


Hypoglycemia is a problem that squirrels seem to be susceptible to. It can be caused from spacing the feedings too far apart. If you notice a squirrel with its back arched and gasping for breath, start the squirrel on a mixture of one part distilled water or Pedialyte mixed with one part of Kayro syrup. Once the squirrel is improved, you should see an improvement within 30 minutes, adjust the feeding schedule so that you are feeding smaller amounts more frequently.

Feeding Trance

Frequently, when you are feeding young squirrels, they will go into a gulping trance. Their mouth will gap open and partially close while their arms will stretch forward. This is nothing to be alarmed about, except that it is real easy to let them overeat because they will not stop until you pull the food away. Sometimes you will have to massage them to get them to come out of it. When they have come out of the feeding trance, you can resume feeding them.

Which One Have I Fed?

When you are caring for 3 or more babies, it is sometimes difficult to tell which one you have fed. It is OK to mark them with nail polish, I use the polish made for dogs nails that the groomers use. I will put a little on top of the head if I have more than 1 of sex in a litter so I can tell which ones are which. I always keep a written record of what time I have fed, how much was eaten and by whom. That way, if I have to go to the vet for anything I have my written record on each squirrel for him to look at. I also record the weight each day on this chart also. It does not take long to write down who ate how much and it sure does save wondering later on how each one was doing on a certain day. Also, if the wildlife officer ever comes to visit, he has records to look at to tell what I am doing and how many squirrels I had and what I did to each one.

Food For Squirrels With Eyes Closed

Their eyes open when they are 5 weeks old, Eastern Grey Squirrels that is. I usually place rodent block in the box with them before their eyes open so they get use to the smell and can nibble between feedings. I also use Zu/Preem Primate Dry monkey biscuits which can be ordered from Jeffers, 1-800-533-3377 (Item number NA-D2-43 for 2 pound bag, cost $4.59, which is subject to change). Try the rodent block or monkey biscuit first and give them an opportunity to try it. Just place it in the nest box with them and leave it, they will nibble on it inbetween feedings.

Housing For Infants

I will repeat this section here in case it was missed in the earlier section. I use the see thru Rubbermaid boxes to put my squirrels in. I cut out sections of the lid and place screen over them and use duct tape to tape the screen in place. This allows the squirrels to get air and keeps them in the box. I use bigger boxes as the squirrels grow and need more room to roam around. Make sure that the boxes you use have a lid that locks on.

When I move them to the real long one, I put a small cardboard box, with the top removed, in one end of the Rubbermaid box with their blankets in the cardboard box. I also cut out a section of the front for the "door" that is sort of like a squared U so that they can use that to get in and out of the box. Sometimes I place a baby cloth diaper going thru the door to the floor of the plastic box in case they have a hard time getting back in, they can pull themselves up the diaper and get back in. I use newspaper with paper toweling on top to line the bottom of this box.

Feeding An Infant Eastern Grey Squirrel When Eyes Open
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