In the Spring and Summer, squirrels have already built their nests and are having their young. It is also a time when many of us trim trees and branches.
If at all possible, please postpone trimming trees and branches with nests in them. Wait until the babies are old enough to leave the nest on their own. An average nest of squirrel babies may consist of 2-4 young , but can even be as many as 5 -6.
When first born, the babies are hairless, we call them “pinkies” and their eyes are closed. They are totally helpless and need their mothers for warmth and nourishment. The babies won’t open their eyes for 4-5 weeks, and they are not able to regulate their body heat until about 6-7 weeks of age.
Many orphaned baby squirrels brought to Native Animal Rescue for rehabilitation are brought due to human interference.
A mother squirrel who is frightened off her nest by tree trimmers, leaves her young very vulnerable to the elements and to other predatory animals.
If you must trim trees, please check all limbs for squirrel nests before hand. If you accidentally knock a nest out of a tree, retrieve the babies and their nest and place the nest with the babies in a nearby tree limb safe from predators and out of direct sunlight.
If the nest is broken, make a replacement nest of the same shape. You can use a common household container, such as a margarine tub, strawberry basket. A word of caution:do not use cleaning product containers, they are highly toxic to young animals.. Poke holes in the bottom for drainage and line the container with natural materials like those of the original nest. Place this as close to where the original nest was located.
Many people believe that if you touch and handle a baby squirrel and the nest, the mother squirrel will not take the baby squirrels back. Not true. Don’t worry, the mother squirrel will always take her young back. So always put the nest back into a tree as close to it’s original location as possible.
If you find that a mother squirrel has moved into your attic and has given birth to babies, please refrain from evicting her and her young until AFTER her young are old enough to leave on their own. The following are some simple steps you can take to safeguard your house BEFORE squirrels take up residence in your attic.
- Never attempt to handle an adult squirrel as they are excitable creatures and handling causes intense stress. A stressed squirrel may bite or scratch.
- Be sure to seal up any openings that lead to your attic or underneath your house.
- Trim branches at least 10Ft away from your house . Squirrels use branches as their “freeway” system of travel and can jump from branches to your roof.
- Make sure your chimney opening on your roof is covered by wire mesh to prevent squirrels from entering your house through the chimney..If a squirrel falls into your chimney, secure a heavy rope from the top of the chimney and drop it down to the fireplace.This provides a perfect escape route during daylight hours.
- Place several ammonia-soaked rags in cans that are punctured with several holes in places such as attics or underneath houses and decks. Do not use this method if baby animals are present.
- If you do find a squirrel has already found its way into your attic and you KNOW there are babies, please wait until they are old enough to leave before evicting the family.
If you do not want squirrels in your yard, you can make your yard less attractive by:
- Removing as many food sources as possible. This means feeding birds in squirrel proof feeders or not at all.
- Fallen acorns and other nuts can be raked up and removed from small yards.
- Protect flower bulbs and prevent digging in gardens by placing one inch mesh chicken wire over the bed before bulbs sprout in spring.
*Remember that live-trapping and relocating is not a final solution and it is illegal.
If you find an orphaned or injured squirrel, it is of vital importance to keep the baby warm. Warmth is imperative for it’s survival. Immediately bring the baby squirrel to Native Animal Rescue where experienced rehabilitators can take over. DO NOT FEED ANY BABY SQUIRREL, AND PLEASE DO NOT GIVE ANY WILDLIFE MILK. All wildlife has special dietary needs that are unique to their species. Too often “well meaning people” find an orphaned and/or injured baby squirrel and try taking care of the baby themselves. They soon realize the baby squirrel is not doing well. The majority of those babies do not survive.
Paradoxically, these charming, bushy-tailed creatures are consistently judged “Most Popular” among our wild neighbors. It seems many of us want them around and many of us don’t – depending on what they are up to at any given moment. Either way, squirrels are one of the most successful mammals in human-altered environments and great entertainers.
For more information on squirrels or any other wild animal, please call Native Animal Rescue at 462-0726 . Visit our website a: www.nativeanimalrescue.org.
Article written by:
Native Animal Rescue