The Importance Of Not Picking Up Baby Squirrels: A Guide To Wildlife Safety


Have you ever spotted a cute and helpless baby squirrel all alone in the wild? Although your first instinct might be to rush to its rescue, you might be surprised to learn that picking up baby squirrels is not the best course of action. In fact, interfering with their natural development and well-being can have unintended consequences. So, before you jump to their rescue, let's explore why it's important to resist the urge to pick up baby squirrels and instead leave them in their natural habitat.

Characteristics Values
Size Small
Fur Soft and fluffy
Eyes Closed in young squirrels, open in older squirrels
Behavior Helpless and dependent
Teeth Barely developed in young squirrels
Feeding Require specialized formula
Mobility Unable to crawl or walk effectively
Communication Vocalize with high-pitched squeaks


Why is it important not to pick up baby squirrels?

Picking up baby squirrels may seem like an innocuous act of kindness, but it can actually be detrimental to their well-being. There are several reasons why it is important not to pick up baby squirrels:

  • Disturbing the nest: Baby squirrels are born in nests which are usually high up in trees. By picking up a baby squirrel, you are likely to disturb their nest, causing stress to the mother and potentially damaging the nest. The mother squirrel relies on the safety and warmth of the nest to protect her young, and interfering with this can disrupt their development.
  • Abandonment: In many cases, baby squirrels found on the ground were not actually abandoned by their mother. Squirrels have multiple nests and may move their young from one nest to another. The mother squirrel may leave her young temporarily to forage for food or relocate them to a new nest. If you pick up a seemingly abandoned baby squirrel, you may be inadvertently separating it from its mother, leading to abandonment and potential harm.
  • Disease transmission: Baby squirrels, like all wild animals, can carry diseases such as rabies or parasites like fleas and ticks. Picking up a baby squirrel without proper protection can put you at risk of contracting these diseases. Additionally, if you have pets at home, the baby squirrel may be carrying diseases that can be transmitted to them.
  • Feeding challenges: Baby squirrels have specific dietary needs that are different from adult squirrels. They require a specialized diet that includes a combination of formula and solid food as they grow. Feeding a baby squirrel incorrectly can lead to malnutrition or digestive issues. Without proper knowledge and experience, it is best to leave the feeding to wildlife rehabilitation professionals who have the expertise to ensure the squirrel's health and development.
  • Legal implications: In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to keep wildlife, including baby squirrels, as pets without the proper permits. By picking up and attempting to care for a baby squirrel yourself, you may be breaking the law. It is essential to contact local wildlife authorities or licensed wildlife rehabilitators who can provide appropriate care for the squirrel within the bounds of the law.

Instead of picking up a baby squirrel, there are several steps you can take to help them without causing harm:

  • Observe from a distance: If you come across a baby squirrel on the ground, observe it from a safe distance for a period of time. The mother squirrel may still be nearby and observing her young. If the baby squirrel appears alert and uninjured, it is likely best to leave it alone.
  • Create a safe space: If you are concerned for the well-being of a baby squirrel, you can create a safe space by placing a small box or container near the squirrel. Place soft bedding, such as leaves or cloth, inside the box and leave it open and accessible. This provides a safe space for the squirrel to seek shelter if needed.
  • Contact wildlife authorities: If you believe the baby squirrel is in immediate danger or requires urgent care, contact your local wildlife authorities or licensed wildlife rehabilitators. They have the experience and resources to provide appropriate care for the squirrel.

Remember, wildlife experts are best equipped to handle and care for baby squirrels. By avoiding unnecessary interference, you can ensure that baby squirrels have the best chance of survival and return to their natural habitat.

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How do baby squirrels survive without human intervention?

Baby squirrels, like any other wild animal, have the ability to survive without human intervention. While it may be tempting to intervene and assist a baby squirrel, it is important to remember that squirrels are wild animals and have evolved to survive in their natural environment.

Firstly, baby squirrels are born in nests, typically built in trees. These nests provide them with protection from predators and the elements. The nests are lined with soft materials such as leaves, moss, and fur, which help to keep the baby squirrels warm and comfortable.

In terms of feeding, baby squirrels rely on their mothers for milk. Squirrel mothers produce highly nutritious milk, which is crucial for the growth and development of the baby squirrels. The mother squirrel will nurse her babies until they are old enough to start eating solid food.

As the baby squirrels grow older, they begin to explore their surroundings and learn essential survival skills. They observe and mimic their mother's behavior, such as climbing, jumping, and foraging for food. This learning process is crucial for their long-term survival as it helps them develop the necessary skills to find food and evade predators.

When it comes to finding food, baby squirrels are quite resourceful. They have a keen sense of smell and excellent eyesight, which enables them to locate food sources such as nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects. They are also agile climbers, allowing them to navigate trees and branches in search of food. Additionally, squirrels have cheek pouches that they use to store and transport food, allowing them to gather and hoard food for future use.

Another important factor in the survival of baby squirrels is their ability to adapt to their environment. Squirrels are highly adaptable animals and can thrive in a variety of habitats, including forests, urban parks, and suburban areas. They are opportunistic feeders, meaning they can adjust their diet based on the available food sources in their environment.

It is worth noting that there are times when human intervention may be necessary for the survival of a baby squirrel. For example, if a baby squirrel has been orphaned or injured, it may require professional care and rehabilitation. In such cases, it is best to contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center or animal rescue organization for assistance.

In conclusion, baby squirrels have evolved to survive in their natural environment without human intervention. They are born in nests that provide them with protection and warmth. They rely on their mothers for milk in the early stages of life and gradually learn essential survival skills through observation and mimicry. They have the ability to find food and adapt to their environment, making them well-equipped to survive in the wild. However, there may be instances when human intervention is necessary, and in such cases, it is important to seek professional assistance.


Can picking up a baby squirrel cause harm to the animal?

Picking up a baby squirrel can potentially cause harm to the animal if not done correctly. It is crucial to handle baby squirrels with care due to their fragility and vulnerability. In this article, we will discuss why it is important to handle baby squirrels properly and provide step-by-step instructions on how to pick them up safely.

Baby squirrels, also known as kits, are born hairless and blind, relying completely on their mothers for survival. When they are found alone and abandoned, it is essential to take appropriate measures to ensure their well-being. While it is natural for humans to want to help and care for these adorable creatures, mishandling them can lead to severe consequences.

Picking up a baby squirrel incorrectly can cause physical harm or distress to the animal. Their delicate bones and fragile bodies can easily be injured if mishandled. For instance, excessively squeezing or dropping the baby squirrel can result in broken bones or internal injuries. Additionally, improper handling can also lead to stress and emotional distress, which can negatively impact the health and development of the squirrel.

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to safely pick up a baby squirrel:

  • Assess the situation: Before attempting to pick up a baby squirrel, ensure that it is indeed abandoned and in need of assistance. It is natural for mother squirrels to leave their young ones unattended for extended periods. Observe the area for at least an hour to confirm if the mother is returning. If there is no sign of the mother, proceed with caution.
  • Protect yourself and the squirrel: Wear protective gloves before handling the baby squirrel. This prevents the transfer of human scent and protects both you and the animal from potential harm.
  • Prepare a suitable container: Find a small, ventilated box or container lined with soft bedding, such as a towel or cloth. Make sure the box has secure sides to prevent the squirrel from escaping.
  • Approach the squirrel calmly and slowly: Make gentle clicking noises or use a softly spoken voice to alert the squirrel of your presence. Slowly place your hand near the squirrel, allowing it to become familiar with your scent and presence.
  • Lift the squirrel gently: Carefully cup the squirrel in your hands, ensuring that its head and body are fully supported. Avoid gripping too tightly as it can cause injury. Remember to keep the squirrel at a comfortable temperature, as they are unable to regulate their body temperature efficiently.
  • Place the squirrel in the prepared container: Transfer the baby squirrel into the box or container you have prepared, ensuring it is safe and secure. Keep the container in a warm and quiet location away from direct sunlight or drafts.
  • Seek professional help: After safely picking up the baby squirrel, it is advisable to contact a local wildlife rehabilitator or animal rescue organization for further guidance. These professionals have the necessary expertise and resources to provide appropriate care and ensure the successful rehabilitation of the squirrel.

It is crucial to note that while picking up a baby squirrel may be necessary in certain situations, it is always best to leave them in the care of their mother whenever possible. If you encounter a baby squirrel that seems healthy and is not in immediate danger, it is best to monitor the situation from a distance and give the mother a chance to return.

In conclusion, picking up a baby squirrel can cause harm to the animal if not done correctly. It is important to handle them with care, ensuring proper support, and avoiding excessive pressure or mishandling. Following the provided step-by-step instructions and contacting wildlife professionals can help ensure the well-being of the baby squirrel and maximize its chances of survival. Remember, these adorable creatures are best left in the hands of experts who can provide them with the appropriate care and rehabilitation they need.


Are there any special precautions to take when encountering a baby squirrel?

Encountering a baby squirrel can be an exciting and adorable experience, but it is important to take special precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of the squirrel. Baby squirrels are fragile and require specific care and attention. In this article, we will discuss the necessary precautions to take when encountering a baby squirrel.

  • Assess the Situation: Before approaching a baby squirrel, it is important to assess the situation and consider if intervention is necessary. The presence of a baby squirrel alone does not always indicate that it is in distress. The mother might be nearby, and the baby squirrel might be temporarily left alone while she searches for food. If the baby squirrel is injured, weak, or visibly distressed, that is when intervention is required.
  • Ensure Your Safety: It is crucial to prioritize your safety when encountering a baby squirrel. Keep in mind that squirrels are wild animals and may bite or scratch if they feel threatened. Wear gloves and handle the baby squirrel gently to avoid any potential harm to yourself or the squirrel.
  • Create a Warm and Safe Environment: Baby squirrels are vulnerable to temperature changes and require a warm and safe environment. If you find a baby squirrel outside, place it in a small box lined with a soft cloth or towel. Place a heating pad set on low underneath the box, ensuring that only one side of the box is heated. This will create a warm and cozy environment for the baby squirrel.
  • Do Not Feed Cow's Milk: Avoid feeding baby squirrels cow's milk as it can cause digestive problems and lead to dehydration. Cow's milk does not provide the necessary nutrients for their growth and development. Instead, you can purchase a specialized formula for orphaned baby squirrels from a wildlife rehabilitation center or consult a veterinarian for advice.
  • Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center: It is important to contact a wildlife rehabilitation center as soon as possible when you encounter a baby squirrel that requires intervention. These centers have the necessary expertise and resources to care for and rehabilitate baby squirrels. They can provide guidance on how to properly care for the squirrel until it can be transferred to their facility.
  • Do Not Keep It as a Pet: While baby squirrels might seem cute and friendly, it is important to remember that they are wild animals. Keeping them as pets is against the law in many areas and can have negative consequences for their development. Squirrels require specialized care and a natural environment to thrive.

In conclusion, encountering a baby squirrel requires caution and adherence to specific precautions. Assess the situation, ensure your safety, create a warm and safe environment, avoid feeding cow's milk, contact a wildlife rehabilitation center, and avoid keeping them as pets. By following these steps, you can ensure the well-being of the baby squirrel and give it the best chance of survival and successful rehabilitation.


What should someone do if they find a baby squirrel in need of assistance?

If you come across a baby squirrel in need of assistance, it is important to handle the situation with care and provide the appropriate support. Baby squirrels are often orphaned or injured, and helping them through this crucial stage can greatly increase their chances of survival. Here are some steps to take if you find a baby squirrel in need of help:

  • Assess the Situation: Before intervening, observe the baby squirrel from a distance to determine if it truly needs assistance. Sometimes, baby squirrels may appear lost or abandoned when their mother is foraging for food nearby. In such cases, it is best to give the mother some time to return before intervening.
  • Create a Safe Space: If it is clear the baby squirrel is in need of help, create a safe and warm space for it. Use a cardboard box lined with a soft cloth or towel. Ensure there are adequate air holes to provide ventilation and prevent the squirrel from escaping.
  • Handle with Care: When handling the baby squirrel, it is crucial to be gentle and avoid causing any harm. Wear gloves to protect yourself and prevent any potential transmission of diseases. Never pick up the squirrel by its tail as this can cause serious injury.
  • Warmth is Vital: Baby squirrels are unable to regulate their body temperature effectively, so it is essential to keep them warm. Use a heating pad or a hot water bottle wrapped in a cloth, set on low, to provide a warm spot in the box. Ensure the squirrel has room to move away from the heat source if it becomes too warm.
  • Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator: It is crucial to seek professional assistance from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. These individuals have the knowledge and experience to provide the appropriate care and treatment for baby squirrels. They will also ensure that the squirrel receives the necessary vaccinations and medical attention, if required.
  • Feeding and Hydration: If you are unable to immediately reach a wildlife rehabilitator, the baby squirrel may require temporary feeding and hydration. However, it is important to note that squirrels have specific dietary needs, and giving them the wrong food can be harmful or even deadly. Never feed a baby squirrel cow's milk or any other human food. Instead, purchase a specialized formula from a pet store or consult a wildlife rehabilitator for advice on appropriate feeding techniques and schedules.
  • Hands-Off Approach: It is essential to remember that baby squirrels are wild animals and should not be treated as pets. Refrain from excessive handling or trying to domesticate them. Interacting with humans can cause undue stress and may interfere with their ability to survive in the wild.
  • Release: Once the baby squirrel has received the necessary care and has grown sufficiently, it should be released back into the wild. The best time to release is during the spring or early summer when natural food sources are abundant. Ensure the release location is safe, away from busy roads and with plenty of trees for the squirrel to climb and forage.

Remember, rehabilitating wildlife is a specialized task that requires knowledge and experience. If you come across a baby squirrel in need of assistance, reach out to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. They will provide the necessary care and ensure the squirrel has the best chance of survival and returning to the wild.

Frequently asked questions

It is important to not pick up baby squirrels because they may be abandoned by their mother temporarily. Squirrels leave their young ones alone for short periods of time to find food or relocate them to a safer place. The mother will return for them once it is safe.

Yes, picking up baby squirrels can harm them. Baby squirrels are fragile and can easily be injured or stressed by handling. They have delicate bones and sensitive skin that can be damaged if mishandled. It is best to leave them undisturbed to avoid any harm.

If you find a baby squirrel, observe it from a distance for at least an hour to see if the mother returns. If the baby squirrel appears to be in immediate danger, you can gently place it in a container and keep it warm until you can contact a wildlife rehabilitator. It is important to avoid feeding or attempting to care for the baby squirrel yourself, as they require specialized care to ensure their well-being. Contacting a professional is the best course of action.

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