What To Do If You Find A Baby Squirrel On The Ground
"This is baby season right now," David Bassi, of Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation in San Antonio, Texas, told The Dodo - baby squirrel season, that is.
"It started about three weeks ago," he said, "and will go through the end of June." Bassi explained that around this time he gets tons of calls from people concerned about the baby squirrel they found in their yard.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you find a baby squirrel.
Make sure the little squirrel is really a baby.
Just because the squirrel is tiny doesn't mean he's a baby. If the squirrel has a fluffed-out tail or a body longer than 6 inches, he's probably fine on his own.
Rule out injuries ... then find mama.
If the baby squirrel doesn't have visible wounds and seems warm, the main goal is to get the baby squirrel reunited with his mom if at all possible. Usually, the baby has just fallen from the nest.
"We ask the people to make a little nest box, to put them where the mother can see them, and take them up to the nest again." A nest box is a container that can be attached to a tree where the mom can find the baby and bring him back to the nest. (You can make or buy one of these - or even use a makeshift cardboard box.) If you don't know which tree the baby fell from, just choose the tree closest to where you found the baby.
Keep pets away and keep watch.
Place the baby near the tree from which he fell, and be sure to keep pets away. Watch to see if the mama squirrel returns and brings the baby back to the nest.
If the mother doesn't come, you'll need a contingency plan. Find a wildlife rescue center near you that can give the little guy the care he needs.
"If the mother doesn't come, we ask people to bring the baby to us," Bassi said. "When they get old enough we put them in an outdoor enclosure with other squirrels. We don't pet them, we don't name them. And when they're ready we take them out and let them go."
Let a squirrel be a squirrel.
Many people Bassi talks to fall in love with the baby squirrel they've just rescued. But it's usually illegal to keep wild animals as pets - plus, they don't get to live the life they were born to live.
As of Friday, at the wildlife center where Bassi works, there are already about 30 baby squirrels being rehabilitated for their eventual release back into the wild.
"It's a very interesting job," Bassi said about the calls he gets all day. "I get to help animals and I get to help people. It's very rewarding."
Click here for resources to find a wildlife rescue center near you. And see this handy flowchart or click here for more info: