Baby squirrels should be kept in the area they are found. The new law prohibits wildlife rehabilitators from rearing and releasing young grey squirrels that have become separated from their mum.
When do grey squirrels breed?
Usually, squirrels will have two litters of young a year - one between February and March and the other between June and July. The litter size averages three to four babies.
Baby squirrels' eyes open at four weeks and they start to explore outside the nest at about six weeks old. They're weaned by ten weeks and then quickly become independent at around 10-12 weeks.
How to tell if a squirrel is a baby
A squirrel is probably a baby if:
- It does not have a fluffed-out tail
- It does not have a body longer than 6 inches (15cm) not including its tail
- Its eyes are closed
What to do if you find a baby squirrel
For the best chance of survival, it's best to reintroduce baby squirrels to their mothers.
Luckily, even in cases where their nest and tree have been destroyed, female squirrels will collect and relocate their babies to an alternate nest site.
The best thing to do is to keep the baby squirrel where you found it, keep pets away and follow these tips:
- Check the area for any other siblings which may also need help.
- The baby should cry which will encourage the mother to collect her infant. You can also play squirrel baby distress noises (available online).
- If a baby squirrel or their nest has fallen to the ground, put them back in the tree for the mother to collect. The safest way to do this is to use a basket or pot you can put the nest in and hang or place in the tree.
- If the nest hasn't fallen with the squirrel you can find leaves and small twigs to keep in the basket with the squirrels. Using a basket and securely placing it in the tree will be the best way to protect the baby squirrels from predators.
- Don't give a baby squirrel food or water, as this can do more harm than good.
Baby squirrel in the wild
If a baby squirrel isn't reunited with its mother
Monitor the nest or baby squirrel from a distance. If the parents don't return after a few hours then they're not likely to return. Unfortunately, in these cases, or if the infant is injured or sick, humane euthanasia may be the best option to prevent the animal from suffering.
Contacting your local vet or wildlife rehabilitator is the quickest way to get help.
If you're asked to contain the infant this should be done by wearing suitable gloves, and by quickly placing the baby squirrel into a secure metal or plastic pet carrier with ventilation holes, lined with a towel or newspaper.
Found an injured squirrel
Be careful when approaching wild animals, as they can scratch and bite when frightened - particularly if they're injured.