Tiny Orphaned Squirrels at WildCare

Wild Babies Need Trees — Maybe Even Yours!

Orphaned baby squirrels at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Our three tiny orphaned squirrels have no fur, their eyes are still shut and their ears tightly sealed. Photo by Alison Hermance

It may be only February, but wildlife Baby Season has already begun! WildCare admitted the first tiny, pink baby squirrels of the season this past weekend, after successfully reuniting another pair with their mother on Valentine’s Day.

The nest these newborn squirrels called home fell from its tree in heavy winds— spring storms often mean danger for tiny babies like these, as does spring-season tree trimming and gardening work.

WildCare recommends you regularly check your yard and neighborhood for fallen babies and call us immediately if you find them at 415-456-SAVE (7283).

Baby squirrel nursing at WildCare. Photo by Alison Hermance

Baby squirrels this young must be fed a special squirrel formula every three hours! Photo by Alison Hermance

Babies this young lack fur and the ability to maintain their body temperature, so rapid response can literally save their lives. These youngsters were lucky— their rescuer saw them soon after their nest hit the ground. He called WildCare, and got the babies to the Wildlife Hospital in good time.

Medical Staff immediately warmed the tiny squirrels by heating dry hand towels in the microwave and wrapping them around the furless babies. This soothing, dry heat raises the little ones’ body temperature and makes them comfortable quickly. These babies were perfectly healthy, so, once warm, they were given subcutaneous fluids and oral electrolyte solution to keep them hydrated, while plans were made to attempt to reunite them with their mother.

Although WildCare does a fantastic job raising orphaned wild babies, we know the little ones are always better off if they can be returned to their mothers’ care.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, reunite attempts on two different mornings were not successful, so these three squirrels became the first Foster Care orphans of 2016. We anticipate 150 – 200 more baby squirrels will come through our doors in the next weeks and months… It looks like 2016 will be a big year for orphaned squirrels, especially with Baby Season’s early start!

Nest from inside cut log. Photo by Alison Hermance

Some birds nest in hollow cavities inside branches and logs. Always check your trees before trimming! Photo by Alison Hermance

Don’t Trim Those Trees!

Rescuing fallen babies like these is one way you can help wildlife this spring, but you can keep even more babies safe by delaying non-emergency tree and gardening work!

Spring may feel like the proper time to neaten up your garden and prune your trees, but be careful—wild animals are probably already using those branches as a nursery… even as you read this!

Every spring, baby animals arrive at WildCare that have been orphaned or injured because their nests were damaged or removed. Most people are appalled to find they have caused these accidents, especially when the injury to wildlife is so easy to prevent: just procrastinate!

Wait until resident wildlife have raised their broods, or even better, until nesting season is over. If you’re facing an active nest, it really won’t be long— usually just a matter of weeks. Before you cut that tree, take a look to see if there are wild families already living there. If so, give them a chance to grow up and move out. Some species of birds (especially raptors (birds of prey)) nest in hidden tree cavities, so don’t forget to check both limbs and trunks thoroughly before trimming or removing. Call WildCare if you have any questions or doubts.

When is wildlife nesting?

Baby wrens in nest. Photo by Veronica Bowers

Nesting season for squirrels is now! Birds will start nesting in the next week or two also. Photo by Veronica Bowers/ Native Songbird Care and Conservation

There is some variation, but most wild animals have their babies in March through August.

If you can plan to trim your trees in the autumn months instead of during the spring and summer, you can completely avoid the possibility of damaging a nest. Autumn pruning is also healthier for the trees, as autumn and winter are when the sap has gone down and trees will be in their dormant phase. Call WildCare at 415-456-7283 if you’re unsure when is a safe time to trim or remove a tree and for recommendations on wildlife-friendly arborists.

Baby squirrel or baby rat? Photo by Alison Hermance

Rescuers of baby squirrels often think they’ve found a baby rat, but this photo shows how different the babies of the two species are. These youngsters are approximately the same age– 10 – 14 days old, but the rat (right) is fully furred and his eyes are open, while the baby squirrel (left) is much less developed, despite being larger in size. Photo by Alison Hermance

What do you do if you find a fallen baby animal?

Click here for a handy decision chart to help you determine what to do if you find a fallen baby bird…

If a wild baby has fallen from a tree, first, be sure he is warm and protected, then call WildCare right away at 415-456-7283. Our 24-hour Living with Wildlife telephone advice staff can help you figure out how to do the right thing to help the little one and maybe even reunite the wild family.

Baby birds and mammals knocked from nests that remain intact MAY be returned to their nests! A mother bird or squirrel will continue to feed her babies after they have been handled by a person (although a mother may smell your scent on her baby, she will not be deterred from caring for him). However, if a baby is obviously injured or if he is cold, please follow the instructions on our Found an Animal page and bring him to WildCare (click for directions) or your local wildlife center immediately.


Hungry baby squirrel at WildCare. Photo by Alison HermanceMake a Monthly Donation to help us raise these orphaned baby squirrels!

These babies will be in care for nearly three months!

They’ll need special squirrel formula while they’re tiny. They’ll also need heating pads, Snuggle Safes and special containers called Kritter Keepers to keep them warm and safe. As they grow, they’ll need larger wire cages and protected outdoor space to learn and explore.

Once they’ve grown a bit, we’ll introduce them to nuts, seeds, fruit and other foods adult squirrels need. These are expensive!

It costs money every day to raise these tiny orphans to be healthy adults, ready to return to the wild. Your monthly donation of any amount makes long-term care like this possible!

Click to start your monthly donation of any amount now!