Found Baby Squirrels
Living with Nature: Squirrels
Squirrels are a common backyard wild animal - grey squirrels and fox squirrels are native to Missouri.
In years with mild winters, squirrels are born as early as the last weeks of February. Females have one litter their first season and two each season thereafter. The second round can arrive as late as the last week of November.
Newborn squirrels are hairless and about the size of a mouse. Eyes open from 21 to 28 days depending on the subspecies.
Most people have a difficult time identifying neonate squirrels and might think they've found a baby mouse. A squirrel's head is about the same size as the body, the hands are quite large, and the tail is very thick compared to a mouse, which has a tiny head, hands, and tail. Also, a squirrel's muzzle is thick, not tapered like that of a mouse.
The weaning process begins at eight to 10 weeks and squirrels are independent at 16 to 18 weeks.
Offspring of late litters sometimes stay with their mother until the following spring. Grey squirrel females may live with their mothers their entire lives in an extended family, raising their babies alongside their mother's subsequent offspring
Squirrels are very good mothers, and mom should retrieve the baby, even if she detects human scent. Mother squirrels make extra nests as a backup if the nursery nest becomes overcrowded, damaged, or infested with parasites. Just because one nest has been destroyed doesn't mean that they don't have a home. If the babies did not get injured from a fall (no bruises/scrapes/cuts/head injury), the mother should retrieve them. She often has another nest to which she can move them.
Baby squirrels are best off with their mother. Their survival rate under the care of a human, even someone properly trained, is significantly lower than if left with mom.
Should I feed a baby squirrel until I get it to a rehabilitation center? No.
Because all wildlife have specialized milk and nursing specific to their species, it is not advised to give them milk or food. Sometimes even offering water can cause unintended side effects such as aspiration.
Found baby squirrels?
What best matches your situation?
- Babies on the Ground
Check the baby for signs of injury (blood or bruising) or presence of flies and fly eggs. If baby appears healthy, the first step is to warm the baby up. This is very important as a mom may perceive a cold baby as dead or dying and will not retrieve.
Warming items might include a water bottle, rice or bean bag (socks work well as bags!) or hand warmers. Items should be warm to the touch. If it is too hot it may cause burns.
- Affix a box or tub/container as high up as you can. It does not need to be on a limb, it can be affixed directly to the tree trunk. Place it in the nearest tree where baby was found. Place the baby in the box/tub with a heat source (such as a warming item from above) and towel. Leave until nightfall.
- If mom has not retrieved before dusk, bring back inside and try again first thing in the morning. If still there at noon, bring into the center.
- Nest / Tree Cut or Fell Down
If the nest has fallen or the tree limb has fallen or been removed, check the baby for signs of injury (blood or bruising) or presence of flies and fly eggs. If baby appears healthy, follow the same steps:
- Affix a box or tub/container as high up as you can. It does not need to be on a limb, it can be affixed directly to the tree trunk. Place it in the nearest tree where baby was found or the tree that the limb came off of. Place the baby in the box/tub with a heat source (such as a warming item from above) and towel. Leave until nightfall.
- If mom has not retrieved before dusk, bring back inside and try again first thing in the morning.
It is important that you monitor activity from a distance. Mom may already be stressed and anxious from the limb or tree removal.
If you have not seen mom going into the nest in the next 24 hours, bring the babies into the center.
- Nesting in House
Squirrels are very adept at getting into attics, gutters and other roof areas of the house. Blocking off the area of entry or repairing a hole is the best means of keeping squirrels out. If they do end up nesting in an area of the house, you have several options.
- Simply let mom raise the babies and once they are out of the nest, repair or block the area so she does not use it again.
- Install a reunion box near the point of entry to the nest. Put the babies in the reunion box and install an exclusion door at the point of entry. Mom will not be able to re-enter the nest site and will take the babies to one of her back-up nests. For more information and to obtain a reunion box contact Lakeside Nature Center
- See our critter eviction page for information on removing the animals safely.
- Critter Control Removed Mother
If you had a professional remove a nuisance animal, you need to contact that same company to remove any of their offspring.
If you have questions, please contact the center at (816) 513-8960