Back to Feeding Mammals

Rearing Young Squirrels

Toileting

Do not forget to toilet them; using a soft piece of damp tissue or cotton wool, gently tickle their genital area
to stimulate the passing of urine and faeces.

You should barely touch the skin; a light touch is the most effective and doesn't make the skin sore.

Holding the squirrel almost upright so that you can see what you are doing may be necessary at first,
until you have more experience of the process. Then you can toilet the squirrel while it is standing on a towel.


Upright position                            Prone position

                Upright toileting                                                      Prone toileting


The Very First Feed

For their very first feeds if very dehydrated or ill, a newly arrived squirrel is given warm Lectade or
similar rehydrating liquid. 
Rehydration is vital to alleviate shock and organ damage and is given for 1-3 feeds, depending on the condition of the patient.
After 3 complete rehydration feeds, give a smaller amount of fluid followed by a milk based feed until the squirrel is back to normal.
Under 35g; between 0.5 and 1 ml every 1½ -2 hours
35 - 40g; about 1-2 ml every 2 hours
40 - 60g; about 2-3ml every 2 hours
65 - 85g; about 3-5ml every 2-2½ hours
90 - 110g; about 4-6ml every 2-2½ hours
120g and over; about 6-8ml every 3 hours

Only warm up enough mixture for one feed at a time. 
To feed them use a 1ml sterilised syringe and small teat. (Catac size ST1)

Feeding Position and technique

Young squirrel

Healthy uninjured squirrels

Fold a towel and place on a heatpad (or hot water bottle) when feeding tiny babies.
Larger babies can be positioned on a towel on a table, your knee or chest.
Squirrels feed lying on their tummies or held in a slightly more upright position with their back feet on a towel;
they like something to hold onto.
You need to be able to see the baby's mouth and throat so I find sitting at a table or standing at a bench are best.
Put your reading glasses on if necessary!
You can cup a small baby in one hand and close your fingers gently around it, it will hold on to a finger or to the syringe.
New babies need time to get used to the system and you will probably have to gently push the teat in at the side
of the mouth to start with for the first 3-4 feeds.
Some will shake their heads and keep refusing the teat but you must persist and feed them at least a minimal amount.
Try a tiny dab of honey on the teat as incentive. Not too much, though as honey can cause diarrhoea.
They eventually get the hang of feeding and will suck eagerly at the teat.
You need to press the plunger fairly slowly but smoothly, keeping pace with the rate of swallowing.
Be prepared to stop occasionally as the young squirrel will pause and make a kind of yawning movement.

Inhaled milk
Sometimes they will pause before you do and some milk will get up their nose and be sneezed out.
STOP feeding immediately.
Dab the nose with soft tissue and mop up any droplets.
Let the baby rest a few moments; inhaling milk is shocking and it needs time to recover.
If the feed was almost finished when the accident happened, give the back a gentle patting and rubbing and mop up
any more milk that is sneezed out.
If the baby is able to resume feeding, be extra careful when giving the final few mls.
Make a note on the feeding record and put the squirrel back in the incubator to recover.

Injured or dehydrated squirrels
Once their body temperature is back to normal, you must get some liquid into them.
Warm up a small amount of lectade or similar rehydrating liquid and add 2 drops of Rescue Remedy or
1 tablet each of Homoeopathic Aconite 6 and Arnica 6. Stir well to dissolve.
Fold a towel and place on a heatpad (or half filled hot water bottle)
Lie the squirrel down on its stomach and gently raise the head and shoulders with one hand while you introduce the teat to the lips.
Very carefully squeeze a drop or two of warm lectade solution into the mouth onto the tongue.
Stop and check to see that it is swallowed and hasn't just run out of the side of the mouth.
Be gentle but persistent, it is important to rehydrate these small animals as soon as possible to prevent organ damage and combat shock.
Squirrels are remarkably resilient so if it is impossible to get it to feed, it may have severe internal  injuries and
will have to be given sub cutaneous liquid by a vet instead.

Feed  at regular intervals (1½ 2-hourly at first) between 6am and 12 midnight

Squirrels under 35g

These are tiny, mainly pink babies, their ears and eyes are closed and the skin is very delicate.
Use soft woolly gloves or a fine wool cloth when handling.
These need the colostrum in Esbilac and are too young to digest the rice in 'squirrel mix'

Milk Feed
Make up their feed with 1 part Esbilac : 3 parts hot, previously boiled water.
Mix the ingredients thoroughly together and store in a clean container in the fridge.

Give the milk a good 10 second shaking up before use as some ingredients will have settled.

Feeding Times
Feed 1½ hourly at first, between 6am and midnight.
Toilet before and after every feed and make notes of whether urine and faeces were produced and the amount of feed taken.
As they develop they will refuse feeds or feed erratically so the intervals can be changed to 2 hourly after 1-2 weeks, 
    depending on their progress, until the weight approaches 35g

Feeding amounts

Very tiny babies will take between 0.5 and 1 ml in each feed at first, gradually increasing to about 2.5 -3 mls.
Check the temperature of the feed on your wrist first.
Do not let it get cold; stand container in a small pot of hot water to keep warm.
Feed very carefully and watch to see each mouthful is swallowed before slowly pressing the syringe plunger again.

Squirrels 35g and over

These are fed a special “Squirrel mix” mixed up as follows:

1 x 15ml measure dried goats milk (or 3x5ml teaspoons)

2 x 5ml teaspoon baby rice

1x 5ml teaspoon Esbilac milk powder

¼ pt warm, previously boiled water

Mix the ingredients thoroughly together and store in a clean container in the fridge.
If this isn't enough for one day of feeds, use double or treble the quantities but be careful to measure them out accurately.
Make sure all the powder is tipped out of the measuring spoons each time, otherwise the mix will not be nutritious enough to satisfy them.
If the squirrels seem extra hungry and want a lot of milk at some feeds the mix is probably too thin.

How much, how often?

Weight 35g    Tiny squirrels with a hint of grey fur, closed ears and eyes
    These need between 1 and 3 mls at 2 hourly intervals between 6am and midnight
Weight 60-80g    Developing fur; ears and eyes beginning to open
    Give 3-5ml at 2½ - 3 hourly intervals between 6am and midnight.
Weight 90-100g    Eyes open, beginning to eat solid food.
    Give 5-7ml at 3 - 4 hourly intervals.
Weight 110-120g
    They are now able to eat solid food quite well, so give 7-9ml squirrel mix four times a day between about 8am and 10pm
Weight 120-130g
    Give 3 feeds x a day of 7-9ml each feed. You can tell a lot by sitting quietly and watching them.
    If they are eating their dry food well, cut the milk feeds down to 2 a day to encourage the to feed themselves.
Weight 130-140g
    Give 2 feeds a day, then 1, then gradually  phase them out altogether.
Once they are weaned they can get pretty feisty so do wear thick leather gloves when handling them.

Diarrhoea

If a squirrel produces runny faeces, make up 100ml of Lectade or similar rehydration fluid.
Take out enough for a full feed and warm up. Stir in a pinch or two of baby rice to thicken it slightly.
Give this mix instead of milk for up to 3 feeds and then gradually introduce milk back into the diet.
The following two or three feeds can be made up of 1- 2ml of lectade and then squirrel mix for the rest of the quantity.
If the diarrhoea persists add 1 crushed tablet of Arsen alb 6 to the next feed. Crush the tablet between teaspoons and dissolve in the warm mix.
Add 1 crushed tablet to subsequent feeds if needed, ideally to feeds 12 hours apart.
Make sure the urinogenital area doesn't get sore. 
Wash gently and dry thoroughly by dabbing with very soft tissue, finally applying a thin smear
    of vaseline or homoeopathic Hypercal ointment to the whole area.
This puts a waterproof film over the delicate skin and protects against the irritant effect of the urine and faeces.
The maximum amount of milk to be given at any one feed must not exceed 10mls. The squirrel should be eating a lot of solid food by this stage.
Too much milk when older will cause severe diarrhoea.
If the squirrels seem permanently hungry for milk check that you have made it correctly, stirred it before use and have added enough Baby Rice.

Weaning

Squirrels are weaned on brown bread, rabbit mix (Russell Rabbit food), chopped nuts, small pieces of fresh sweet corn and chopped apple.
Later they can have acorns, hazelnuts and walnuts in shell, squirrel mix, corn on the cob, sweet chestnuts, peanuts, apple, grapes etc.      


Top of page
Back to index