Eastern gray squirrels bear young in trees or structures high off the ground. The nest, or drey, may look like a basketball-sized wad of leaves and sticks stuffed between branches or it may be out of sight, situated inside a tree cavity or structure. Young squirrels may be seen venturing from the nest at about 6-7 weeks and by 10 weeks of age they are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and independent.
If you find an uninjured young squirrel that is easy to capture, every effort should be made to get it back with its mother. Mother gray squirrels have more than one nest site and will move her young naturally due to a variety of triggers, including parasite infestation, structural damage, or other dangers. Squirrel mothers are very attentive and will almost always retrieve their young if given the opportunity.
Gray squirrels are only active during the day (diurnal) and retreat to their nests at night. Reuniting young must only be attempted during daylight hours.
Containing the young squirrel(s):
Wearing gardening gloves and/or using a clean hand towel, scoop the young squirrel into an open topped container just deep enough to prevent escape (cardboard box, storage bin, etc).
Ensure the baby squirrel is warm:
Very young squirrels may need help getting warmed up before the reuniting process. To warm a cold squirrel, wrap it in a hand towel that has been heated in the microwave for 20-30 seconds; replace the towel as it cools every couple of minutes. Very young squirrels are not able to stay warm without supplemental heat.
Offer one of the following supplemental heat sources during the reuniting process:
Heating pad set on LOW under 1 of container
Chemical hand warmers (e.g. Hot Hands or similar brand) wrapped in a clean cloth, placed inside at one end of the container
Sock warmer: Pour one cup of dry rice or bird seed into a clean tube sock. Tie the sock end and ensure there are no holes or loose strings. Microwave the sock for approximately 30 seconds to one minute (should be warm when placed on the underside of the wrist, not hot). Place sock at one end of the reuniting container.
Secure the container, with baby(s) inside, in the nest tree or a tree as close as possible to where the baby was found, as high as you are able to reach. The container may be placed at the base of the tree if it is not possible to secure it up off the ground and if it can be monitored closely. Protect from harsh elements such as strong direct sunlight or rain.
If the baby is not retrieved by nightfall, bring it indoors for the evening. Keep in a warm, quiet place away from people and pets. Do not feed or offer water. At dawn, return the young to the reuniting site.
Healthy baby squirrels should be available for the mother squirrel to retrieve during daylight hours for up to two 12-hour periods.
If reuniting is not successful, contact the Wildlife Rescue Center at 636-394-1880 or for further instructions.
Contact the Wildlife Rescue Center at (636) 394-1880 or firstname.lastname@example.org for instruction on any situation not covered by the preceding information.
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