Squirrels are a part of daily urban life. They’re cute and fun to watch as they chase each other, climb trees, and nibble on snacks they find foraging. Sadly, many consider them pests when they find their way into homes where they can nest between walls or attics. This can be a problem for homeowners and renters alike because they can cause damage by chewing through electrical cables or insulation.
Learning how to live with the animals residing out of our backdoors is important. Let’s learn about squirrels and what to do if we happen across one who needs our help.
Squirrel facts to know
This fluffy-tailed forager collects nuts and seeds for food and buries them underground, storing them for colder months. Luckily for us, they’re also forgetful. Often they’ll forget where they stored their food, and the abandoned seeds eventually sprout into plants. This means the common grey squirrel is unwittingly responsible for helping to grow hundreds of new plants and trees yearly.
Preferred habitat. Grey squirrels are tree dwellers but will approach nearby home gardens for food. They are easily spotted at the base of trees and disappear up the trunks if disturbed.
Diet. Most, but not all, squirrels are vegetarian. Nuts, acorns, seeds, fruits, & buds are the main foods in a squirrel’s diet. Flying squirrels will eat bird eggs, baby birds, and insects.
Breeding habits. Females give birth twice yearly to litters of between three to seven babies. They typically nest high in trees.
Baby squirrel sleeping on a blanket / Source
What to do if you find baby squirrels
- Look for the nest or any siblings that might be nearby.
- Search the area for predators, like dogs, cats, or other dangers that might be present.
- Check them for signs of injury.
- Handle babies as little as possible, using a soft cloth such as a washcloth or an old flannel shirt. Place in a protective container with a soft, clean cloth.
- Keep babies warm; this is especially important if they have little to no fur.
- Don’t feed them! Wildlife rehabilitators use a formula specifically for baby squirrels. Do not feed them cow’s milk!
- Look for the mother. She may be trying to find her baby. If you happen to spot her, place the container where she can see and access it. Remember to keep the area safe and watch out for predators!
Close-up of a grey squirrel / Source
What to do if you find an injured juvenile or adult squirrel
- Check for signs of injury. Common causes include: Being hit by a car, falling from a tree, being attacked by another animal, and poisoning. Head trauma or poisoning symptoms may include listing to the side, walking in circles, looking/acting dizzy, or bleeding from the nose or mouth.
- If the squirrel is hurt, handle them with care. While squirrels aren’t naturally aggressive, they can claw or bite to avoid capture and have sharp teeth and strong jaws. It’s a good idea to wear thick gloves for protection.
- Throw a towel over the squirrel and scoop him up to put in a box or cage. There are animal cages with detachable bases that can capture a squirrel, similar to catching an insect in a cup and sliding something underneath.
- Don’t hold or pet the squirrel.
- Provide a soft bed; an old shirt will do.
- Place the box or cage in a quiet area away from other animals.
Get professional help
No matter the squirrel’s age, you should always contact a professional such as Squirrelmender Wildlife Rehabilitation once you’ve rescued the animal from any immediate danger (or determined that you cannot).