Unlike many animals in the wild, baby squirrels can’t survive on their own and they require great care until they’re old enough to leave the nest. If you come across a baby squirrel, a huge part of caring for it is knowing what its diet should consist of. If you’re wondering what to feed baby squirrels, then you’ve come to the right place.
This article is a guide on the right food to give baby squirrels according to their age, as well as what you should do if you find an abandoned baby squirrel.
Determining the Age of the Baby Squirrel
Establishing a proper diet for a baby squirrel largely depends on you knowing its age. This helps you figure out the correct food amount you should give it to meet its nutritional needs.
If you’re looking for a way to tell how old a baby squirrel is based on how it looks and behaves, the following guide will help you get a good estimate:
|Newborn to 7 days||● Pink-colored skin with no fur
● Eyes are still closed
● The length of its body is around three inches, not counting its tail
● An American red squirrel shows a dark stripe down the center of its snout, while an Eastern grey doesn’t
|2 weeks||● Fur starts to appear on the back
● No fur on the belly and underside
● Eyes are still closed
|3 weeks||● The length of its body reaches around four inches, not counting its tail
● Teeth are starting to show on the front lower jaw
● Eyes are still closed
|4 weeks||● The length of its body reaches around five inches, not counting its tail
● Fur starts to develop on the belly and underside
● Eyes are open
|5 weeks||● The length of its body reaches around six inches, not counting its tail
● Teeth are starting to show on the front upper section
|6 weeks||● Teeth are starting to show at the back (cheeks)
● Can use its front paws to hold food
● Can sit up without assistance
|7 to 8 weeks||● The length of its body reaches around seven or eight inches, not counting its tail
● Fur has grown all over its body
● Increase in activity levels
|8 to 12 weeks||● Learns how to climb
● The body is smaller than fully-developed squirrels
● Can be released back to nature if healthy
What Food Should I Give a Baby Squirrel?
There are a few options when it comes to providing baby squirrels with a proper diet, the following are our top two recommendations:
1. Homemade Formula With Goat Milk
- Three tablespoons of goat milk
- Three tablespoons of yogurt, plain
- Two tablespoons of heavy cream
- Half an egg yolk
Goat milk is readily available at most markets and grocery stores. However, if you can’t get your hands on fresh goat milk, you can instead add powdered or canned milk.
Keep in mind that you must first dilute powdered or canned or milk using water. Follow the directions on the container for the exact measurements.
Also, you shouldn’t use this formula for longer than a few weeks because it won’t supply all the required vitamins and minerals as the squirrel gets older.
2. Powdered Puppy Milk – Stages
You can give baby squirrels powdered puppy milk prepared as follows:
- Stage 1 — Combine one part powder with three parts salt and sugar water or Pedialyte drink.
- Stage 2 — Combine two parts powder with two parts of either solution.
- Stage 3 — Combine three parts powder with one part of either solution.
- Stage 4 — Switch to undiluted, regular puppy milk.
Each stage should last for two feedings and you should provide the baby squirrel with the solution approximately every two and a half hours. If possible, schedule a feeding during the night to give the baby squirrel an extra dose of nutrients.
Make sure you closely stick to the directions stated on the puppy milk container to achieve full dissolving of the powder.
To encourage the baby squirrel to feed, avoid chilling the mixture. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before giving it to the baby squirrel.
How Much Food Should I Give a Baby Squirrel?
The amount of food you should give to a baby squirrel differs according to its age and species. Here’s a simple guide to the recommended frequency and dose of a baby squirrel’s diet:
|Age||Amount for American red squirrels||Amount for Eastern grey squirrels||Interval|
|Newborn to 7 days||0.5 cc||0.75 cc to 1.25 cc||Every 2.5 hours|
|2 weeks||1 cc to 1.5 cc||2.5 cc to 3 cc||Every 3 hours|
|3 weeks||1.75 cc to 2 cc||4 cc to 5.5 cc||every 3 hours|
|4 weeks||2 cc to 2.5 cc||6 cc to 9 cc||every 3.5 hours|
|5 weeks||3 cc to 4 cc||10 cc to 12 cc||every 4 hours|
|6 weeks||4 cc to 6 cc||12 cc to 14 cc||every 4 hours|
|7 to 8 weeks||7 cc to 8 cc||14 cc to 16 cc||every 8 hours|
|8 to 12 weeks||9 cc to 10 cc||16 cc to 18 cc||every 12 hours|
As you can tell from the table, American red squirrels should be given less food compared to Eastern grey squirrels. This is because American reds are smaller in size, so their nutritional needs aren’t as high.
Note that if you’re taking care of a malnourished baby squirrel, it’ll need to regain a good portion of its strength before it can handle a full feeding schedule.
After every feeding session, don’t forget to wash the baby squirrel’s face and neck. Also, continue to stimulate urination.
What to Do if You Find a Baby Squirrel
If you come across a baby squirrel and you don’t have the means to care for it, don’t feel bad. The best chance for it to survive is under the care of its mother, so you should help it make its way back to its home.
- Place the baby squirrel at its nesting tree. This tree should be nearby to where you found the squirrel. If you’re not sure about the location of the nesting tree, or you suspect that the nest has been destroyed, simply pick the tree closest to where you found the squirrel.
Squirrels can build nests either in tree cavities or in dreys at the tops of trees.
- Check the baby squirrel’s eyes. If they’re open, the squirrel can likely climb, so you can place it on the tree trunk to encourage it to do so.
If the squirrel doesn’t climb, place it in a box and put the box on the tree trunk while open. Do the same thing if the baby squirrel’s eyes are still closed.
There you have it, a complete guide on what to feed baby squirrels.
Keep in mind that baby squirrels will require your care for approximately three months. After that, the best way you can support them is by setting them free and providing a squirrel feeder outdoors to ensure they have a source of nutrition as they learn to find food on their own.