How To Reunite A Baby Squirrel With Its Mother

Tips:

  • Watch how others have successfully reunited baby squirrels (links to YouTube videos below)
  • Use our Found A Baby Squirrel? Online Assessment Tool to ensure that the baby is healthy enough (and warm enough) to attempt a reunion
  • Keep all activity (people, kids, pets, etc) away from the area until after mom retrieves her babies.  Watch from a distance for mom's return, but keep out of sight.
  • Place the box containing the babies as high as possible, in a location where pets and predators can't find them.
  • Never leave babies out overnight.  Bring them inside at dark and set them back outside at dawn (see Age Considerations below).
  • If mom comes back and inspects the babies but leaves without them, she may be going to build an alternate nesting site, or something temporarily scared her away.  Wait a little while longer, allowing her time to return to get her babies.
  • Make sure the babies are warm.  Warm babies are easier for mom to find by smell, are more active and more likely to call out for mom as they get hungrier.
  • If possible, you should line the box with the original nesting material.  It contains the baby's scent, making it easier for mom to find.

Quick Facts:

  • Mom doesn't usually stay with her babies, so until she comes back to nurse them, she isn't aware there is a problem.  If mom is not around, she should be returning within an hour or two.
  • Squirrels can only carry one baby at a time.  It may take mom a few trips to retrieve each baby and carry them to an alternate nesting location.

Steps:

  1. Make sure baby is healthy and warm:  use our Found A Baby Squirrel? Online Assessment Tool
  2. Use the Found A Baby Squirrel? Online Assessment Tool to determine the age of the baby.  You'll need this information to know how to set up a temporary box to hold the babies as well as determine when and how long you can attempt to reunite the babies with mom.
  3. Prepare a box to hold the baby; refer to Age Considerations (below) as a guide on box setup
  4. Place the babies as close to their nesting site or where you found them or where you have seen the mom.  Either create a nest using original nesting material or contain the babies in a box (see Placement Considerations below)

Age Considerations

  • Use the Found A Baby Squirrel? Online Assessment Tool to determine the age of the baby.
  • Newborn to 4 weeks old Since these babies can't see or climb out of the box, you can use a more shallow box, making it easier for mom to see them.  These babies must have supplemental heat in their box (chemical handwarmer packs, heating pad under half of the box, etc).  If it is extremely cold, you will need to check and change out the supplemental heat more frequently.  If it is raining, the box needs to be positioned so that it has overhead protection from the rain (such as branches with leaves or something else to keep out rain).  These babies nurse frequently, so they can't go without feedings for too long. If more than four hours (for newborn to 14 days old) or 8 hours (for 2-4 weeks old) have passed and mom has still not returned for them, they should be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator immediately. To save precious time (just in case the reunite is unsuccessful) you may want to make arrangements with a wildlife rehabilitator while you are waiting for mom.
  • 4+ Weeks old  These babies are much more active and may climb out, so a taller box should be used.  They need much more bedding inside the box; this makes them feel secure and less likely to try to crawl out.

Placement Considerations

  • If you will be able to continually keep an eye on the babies (and can keep pets, predators and other activity away), you can build up a nest (using leaves or the original nesting material) at the location which you think mom will be able to find them.  If they continually try to crawl away, you will need to place the nesting material and babies in a box.
  • If you aren't able to continually keep an eye on the babies during the reunite attempt, you will need to place them in a box to contain them to the location you think mom will be able to find them.
  • If these babies came from a tree that was cut down, keep them warm and contained until the tree removal is finished then place them at the original location of the tree.  You can also watch the area for signs of mom (who is probably watching from a distance).  If you spot her, you can try placing the babies close to her location rather than waiting until the tree removal is complete.

Here are some youtube videos of successful baby squirrel reunions:

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